September 29, 2021

Diabetic Friendly Drinks | Living With Diabetes

Are you looking to enjoy a tasty drink from time to time? Living with diabetes doesn’t limit you to water. There are multiple drink options to enjoy.

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Home / Living with Diabetes / Diabetic Friendly Drinks | Living With Diabetes

Whether you have diabetes or not, water is the ideal drink in terms of health. This beverage comes free of sugars, other carbohydrates, and calories – and you can get as much as you need simply by turning on your nearest faucet.

However, the fact that water is flavorless means it isn’t always the most exciting drink out there. Still, when you have diabetes, it’s essential to avoid sugar-packed beverages for the sake of your blood sugar. In this article, we’ll go over diabetes-friendly drinks that are still flavorful – and other things to keep in mind before taking a sip of your beverage of choice.

The Basics of Liquid Intake

Chances are, you already know how crucial managing blood sugar is for people with diabetes. And, of course, watching what you eat is a significant part of controlling your blood glucose levels. But did you know that being aware of what you drink is just as important, if not even more so?

Sweet drinks like juice and soda can cause your blood sugar to increase rapidly – even more quickly than sugary foods can. Along with this fact, soft drinks are the top source of added sugar and calories in American diets today. Because of that, if you have diabetes, it’s imperative to avoid these drinks (unless you’re drinking controlled portions of them to counteract the effects of low blood sugar).

Smart Swaps

While sweetened drinks can be dangerous for people with diabetes, you can still drink more than just water if you have this condition. Read on for our list of risky beverages – and ways to safely enjoy them.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk isn’t wholly unhealthy – it’s packed with calcium, and low-fat varieties can be a great way to recover after a workout. However, pre-made chocolate milk tends to be full of sugar, too.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: make your own chocolate milk! Just blend 1-percent milk with three teaspoons of cocoa powder and two tablespoons of zero-calorie sweetener. You’ll get the health benefits of milk without the added sugar!

Sweet Tea

Don’t get this Southern classic from a drive-thru! Sixteen ounces of fast-food sweet tea may contain up to 36 grams of carbohydrates.

Instead, consider sweetening your tea the all-natural way with fruit. Simply let tea steep along with some crushed fruit. Then, strain and chill before adding a touch of zero-calorie sugar substitute.

Orange Juice

Orange juice goes great with breakfast – but it’s not exactly low in sugar. A single cup contains 26 grams of carbs.

While you can find orange-flavored light fruit drinks, one of the healthiest ways to enjoy the taste of orange juice is by eating an orange instead of squeezing it. The difference is that oranges are full of fiber, which can help counteract the sugar they contain.

Chai Latte

Your nearest coffee shop might make a mean chai latte, but chances are, it’s packed with an equally mean amount of sugar. You can expect about 33 grams of carbs when you buy one of these drinks.

The good news: you can cut down on this amount significantly by making a chai latte at home. Steep a chai tea bag or two in a cup of soy milk or unsweetened almond milk, adding flavor with black pepper and cinnamon. You’ll get the same great taste, with under a gram of carbs.


Nothing beats a tall glass of lemonade during the dog days of summer. At a restaurant, though, your lemonade could come with 60 grams of sugar.

Luckily, it’s easy to make lemonade that has zero calories and zero carbs. Squeeze lemons and mix them with water, calorie-free sweetener, and ice.

Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate isn’t exactly the healthiest beverage, but some coffee houses take things too far. For example, a medium cup of hot chocolate with low-fat milk might have 60 grams of carbs.

You can cut down on this amount of carbs by over 50 percent by making your own hot chocolate. It’s easy – just combine a cup of low-fat milk, a couple of squares of 70-percent dark chocolate, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon. Melt these ingredients in a saucepan for a luxurious treat that contains just 23 grams of carbs.

Apple Cider

Apple cider may be a fall classic, but it’s also basically just unfiltered apple juice. A serving of cider contains the same amount of carbohydrates as a serving of apple juice – about 26 grams per cup.

By opting for a light apple juice cocktail, you can reduce this amount of carbs by about 50 percent. It might not taste precisely the same, but your blood glucose level will thank you.

Energy Drinks

As their name suggests, these drinks can help you get going. However, the caffeine they contain can do a number on your heart rate and blood pressure – and these drinks can be full of carbs, too.

If you still want an energy drink, there are a few steps you can take to limit their impact on your health. Find a variety that’s free of sugar, and cap your caffeine intake to a maximum of 400 milligrams per day.

Fruit Smoothie

While fruit is a nutritious option for people with diabetes, commercially-made fruit smoothies may not be nearly as healthy. One 12-ounce mango-flavored smoothie had 58.5 grams of carbs – or as much as a sandwich and apple combined.

While you’re naturally going to get some carbs from a beverage containing fruit, you can cut this amount down by adding just one serving of fruit and the rest veggies!

Ginger Ale

Ginger ale can help with nausea, and it tastes great even if you’re not sick. However, it’s also a soft drink – meaning it can do more harm than good for your health, especially if you have diabetes.

That said, it’s not hard to make your own “ginger ale” at home. Pour yourself a glass of seltzer water, and add a spoonful of grated ginger and a small amount of zero-calorie sweetener.

Café Mocha

It’s easy to understand why people like this drink, which combines coffee with chocolate. Since a mocha can contain 40 grams of carbs and 300 calories, though, it’s best to make your own.

To make a healthier mocha, blend a cup of brewed coffee with two tablespoons of low-fat milk, a tablespoon of cocoa powder, and a bit of zero-calorie sweetener. You’ll cut out 14 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, and 300 calories!

Drinking Alcohol With Diabetes

These aren’t the only beverages people enjoy drinking, of course. If you have diabetes, you may be particularly curious about the possibility of drinking alcohol. Luckily, many people with diabetes can safely enjoy alcoholic drinks.

Before you start drinking, it’s essential to make sure your diabetes is under control. If that’s the case and your doctor has given you the all-clear, there’s nothing wrong with having the occasional drink with a meal. What you drink matters, but light beer, dry wines, and sugar-free mixed drinks are better options.

However, you’ll need to be aware of when you ate last. If you haven’t had food in a while, alcoholic beverages can lower your blood sugar. You can counteract this by eating along with your drink. Since these effects can linger, make sure to check your blood sugar and have a snack if you need to before turning in for the night.

Quench Your Thirst – And Control Your Blood Sugar

Being thirsty is a part of life for everyone. If you have diabetes, though, it may feel like you have to choose between healthy (but tasteless) water and sweet (but dangerous) soft drinks. However, the reality is more nuanced. Hopefully, this article has inspired you to enjoy some delicious beverages that won’t throw your blood glucose out of balance!

Are you looking for more advice on healthy living with diabetes? Take a look at our blog articles on diet and fitness, along with our collection of healthy recipes – which includes smoothies, coffee drinks, and more. And if you need any diabetes supplies, choose US MED for free shipping and service backed by an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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