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What to drink when you have diabetes


Your body is made up of nearly two-thirds water, so it makes sense to drink enough every day to stay hydrated and healthy.

Water, tea, coffee, milk, fruit juices and smoothies all count.

We also get fluid from the food we eat, especially from fruit and veg.

Does it matter what we drink? Yes, particularly when it comes to fruit juices and sugary drinks – you can be having more calories and sugar than you mean to because you’re drinking them and not noticing. 

Five ways to stay hydrated… 

  1. Water is the best all-round drink. If your family likes flavoured waters, make your own by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime, or strawberries. Children often need reminding to drink, so give them a colourful water bottle with a funky straw.
  2. Tea, coffee, chai and hot chocolate – cut back on sugar and use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.
  3. Herbal teas can make a refreshing change and most are caffeine-free.
  4. Fruit juices (100 per cent juice) contain vitamins and minerals and 150ml provides one portion of our five a day – but remember, fruit juices only count as one portion, however much you drink. They can harm teeth, so for children, dilute with water and drink at meal times.
  5. Milk is one of the best drinks to have after sport. It’s hydrating and a good source of calcium, protein and carbohydrate. Choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.

…and two drinks that are great for hypos

  1. Fizzy sugary drinks provide little else apart from a lot of sugar, so only use these to treat hypos. Otherwise, choose sugar-free alternatives
  2. Energy drinks – the only time when these drinks can be helpful in diabetes is when you need to get your blood glucose up quickly after a hypo. Energy drinks are high in sugar and calories.

Quick quenchers

  • Add slices of cucumber, lemon, or mint leaves to a glass of iced water.
  • Mix sparkling water with a small amount of squash or cordial.
  • Make ice cubes from watermelon or grapes to brighten up your sugar-free drinks.
  • Gradually dilute fruit juice so you get used to less sweetness.
  • Try different types of flavoured teas – fresh mint leaves in boiling water is very refreshing.
  • Keep a bottle or a jug of water on the dinner table.
  • Add ground elaichi (cardamom seeds) to flavour chai in place of sugar and use semi-skimmed milk rather than whole or evaporated milk.
  • Use diet or light versions of hot chocolate.
  • Check the label on drinks cartons and choose the one that’s lowest in sugar.
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