Happy Holidays! When family and friends get together during the holiday season, it usually involves a lot of different types of foods and beverages. When you are living with diabetes, one wrong decision can cause big problems, especially when it comes to choosing what to drink.

This article will help you sort through the most popular drink options so you can choose what works best for you (it even includes drink carbohydrate charts - charts are great!). This includes beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks and cocktails, shooters, juices, mixers, holiday punch, non-alcoholic drinks and even eggnog.

So at this year's Christmas party or New Year's Eve event, you'll be able to make an informed decision for just about any drink that comes your way.

There are two things to be mindful of when choosing something to drink: the amount of carbohydrate it provides and whether or not it contains alcohol (more on that later).

For non-alcoholic beverages: Select diet sodas, seltzer or club soda instead of regular soda or tonic water. A non-diet soda can contain as much as 49 grams of carbohydrate per serving compared to the zero carbs found in a diet version.

Choose unsweetened iced tea instead of sweetened and avoid the punch bowl. If you like to sweeten your coffee or tea, then it's always helpful to bring your favorite sugar-free sweetener along with you just in case there is none available.

The chart below shows the number of carbs in commonly served non-alcoholic drinks (juices appear later).

BeverageCarbs per 8-ozCarbs per 12-oz
Diet Soda 0g0g
Regular Soda23g35g
Regular Cream Soda33g49g
Seltzer / Club Soda0g0g
Tonic Water 22g32g
Egg Nog 20g
Iced Tea, Unsweetened 0.4g0.6g
Iced Tea, Sweetened 22g33g
Fruit Punch (regular) 13-30g
Holiday Punch with Juice & Soda 24g
Holiday Punch with Juice , Soda, Sherbet or Ice Cream 38g
Coffee, black 0g
Coffee with cream & sugar 15g
Milk 12g

For juice choices, watch out for "juice cocktail" juice drinks, which may be a blend of juices and sweeteners. Tomato juice, V-8 juice and grapefruit juice have among the lowest carbs.

If you plan to drink grapefruit juice, make sure it does not interfere with your medications, such as those for high cholesterol and blood pressure.

There are also "light" juices available, including Trop 50 and Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Juice, which have less carbs (see the chart below).

JuiceCarbohydrate per 8-ounces
Tomato Juice 5g
V-8 Juice 10g
Grapefruit juice 11g
Grape juice 19g
Orange juice 26g
Orange juice, light (Trop 50) 13g
Apple juice, unsweetened 29g
Passion fruit juice 32g
Pineapple juice 34g
Pomegranate juice32g
Cranberry juice, regular 30g
Cranberry juice cocktail 34g
Cranberry juice, light (Ocean Spray) 11g
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Alcoholic Beverages

Most people with diabetes can drink alcohol safely if they drink in moderation, which means an occasional drink or two. But there are some important points to remember.

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. This is a particular risk in diabetics using oral medications or insulin. Low blood sugar can cause shaking, dizziness, and collapse -- which means that some people may mistake your behavior as drunkenness and fail to offer or seek medical attention.

Some oral diabetes medications, like tolbutamide (Orinase) and chlorpropamide (Diabinese, Glucamide), can cause dizziness, flushing, and nausea when combined with alcohol. It is a good idea to contact your doctor, or even your pharmacist, with questions about the safety of drinking when taking these and other diabetes medications.

If you're going to have a drink, then consider the following information about the carbs in certain types of alcoholic beverages and mixed drinks.

If you want to drink a beer, choose a light beer first. Regular beer would be a second choice and dark beer is not recommended. Many bottled beers provide nutritional information, so you can always ask to see the bottle first.

Both white and red wines provide a similar amount of carbs per 5-ounce serving, between 3 and 5 grams. Dessert wines, however, can contain up to 20 grams.

BeverageCarbohydrate
Beer, Lite
12-oz
5 grams
Beer, Regular
12-oz
12 grams
Beer, Dark
12-oz
Up to 25 grams
Beer, Guiness Draft
16-oz
17 grams
Beer, Non-Alcoholic
12-oz
5-12 grams
Wine Cooler
12-oz
up to 30 grams
Champagne, Dry (brut)
5-oz
2-5 grams
Champagne, Spumante
5-oz
up to 10 grams
White Wine
5-oz
4 grams
Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio
5-oz
3 grams
Dry Champagne
5-oz
4 grams
White Wine
5-oz
4 grams
White Zinfandel Wine
5-oz
4 grams
Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Semillon
5-oz
5 grams
Dry Red Wine
5-oz
3 to 4 grams
Sweet/Dessert Wine
5-oz
12 to 20 grams
Liqueurs like Amaretto and Kahlua
Per Ounce
17 grams
Sambuca, Cointreau, and Bailey's Irish Cream
Per Ounce
5 to 7 grams
Vodka
Per Ounce
0 grams
Rum
Per Ounce
0 grams
Gin
Per Ounce
0 grams
Tequila
Per Ounce
0 grams
Whiskey
Per Ounce
0 grams
Scotch
Per Ounce
0 grams
Brandy
Per Ounce
0 grams
Cognac
Per Ounce
0 grams
Southern Comfort
Per Ounce
3 grams

Unsweetened vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, scotch, brandy, and cognac have zero carbs. When added to a zero-carb mixer, such as diet cola, you end up with a zero-carb drink.

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Mixed DrinkCarbohydrate
Gin and Tonic
Per Serving
15 grams
Rum & Regular Cola
Per Serving
15 grams
Rum & Diet Cola
Per Serving
0 grams
Black Russian
Per Serving
16 grams
Bloody Mary
Per Serving
5 grams
Fuzzy Navel
Per Serving
38 grams
Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
Per Serving
44 grams
Kamikaze
Per Serving
15 grams
Long Island Iced Tea
Per Serving
10 grams
Manhattan
Per Serving
2 grams
Margarita, Classic
Per Serving
11-25 grams
Margarita, Frozen
Per Serving
12-96 grams
Mint Julep
Per Serving
8 grams
Old Fashioned
Per Serving
5 grams
Martini
Per Serving
0-1 grams
Mojito
Per Serving
25 grams
Pina Colada
Per Serving
30-50 grams
Seabreeze
Per Serving
20 grams
Screwdriver (vodka & OJ)
Per Serving
19 grams
Sloe Gin Fizz
Per Serving
3 grams
Tequila Sunrise
Per Serving
15 grams
Tom Collins
Per Serving
3 grams
White Russian
Per Serving
16 grams

Shots, or shooters, are usually about 1-1/2 ounces per serving. Here's what to expect for some of the more commonly served shooters.

Shots / ShootersCarbohydrate
Alabama Slammer
1.5 ounces
8 grams
Amaretto Sour
1.5 ounces
19 grams
Fuzzy Navel
1.5 ounces
19 grams
Jager Bomb
1.5 ounces
14 grams
Jello Shots
1.5 ounces
3-4 grams
Kamikaze
1.5 ounces
19 grams
Mud Slide
1.5 ounces
19 grams
Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey, Vodka
1.5 ounces
0 grams
Snake Bite
1.5 ounces
1-2 grams
Southern Comfort
1.5 ounces
3 grams

More about Diabetes and Alcohol

For everyone, frequent, heavy drinking can cause liver damage over time. But because the liver stores and releases glucose, blood glucose levels may be more difficult to control in a person with liver damage caused by alcohol abuse. Frequent heavy drinking can lead to higher levels of fats in blood, which increases heart disease risk.

Alcohol has calories without the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health. A doctor can discuss whether it's safe for an individual with diabetes to drink. People who are trying to lose weight need to account for the calories in alcohol in diet planning. A dietitian also can provide information about the sugar and alcohol content of various alcoholic drinks.

Last but certainly not least. Don't drink and drive. Depending on how much you weigh, you can be considered an impaired driver after 2 drinks and legally drunk after 3 drinks. If you plan on drinking alcohol, limit yourself and/or find a designated driver.

One drink is considered:

  • 12 ounces beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of hard liquor

If you want to estimate your blood alcohol content, then try this Blood Alcohol Content Calculator.