Physical activity if you take insulin
Physical activity can help you feel better and cope with your cancer treatment. Physical activity may affect your blood sugar levels, so if you take insulin, speak to your diabetes team before doing lots of exercise.
If you start to do more physical activity, you may need to change the amount of carbohydrate and/or insulin you have. Your diabetes team can help you with this.
It’s a good idea to monitor your blood sugar levels before, during and after exercise, until you get to grips with the way the exercise affects your blood sugar levels. It also helps to keep a record of your blood sugar levels while you are exercising, to spot any trends. If you find that your blood sugar levels do drop during or after exercise, then always keep hypo treatments with you.
Be aware that your blood sugar levels can keep dropping the day after physical activity.
Eating out if you take insulin
Eating out can be an important social activity, a chance to see friends and family and do something you enjoy. You can still eat out if you have diabetes, but you may need to change the timing or amount of insulin you take. Speak to your diabetes nurse about this.
If you have larger portions or more fatty foods when you eat out, remember that you may need more pancreatic enzymes. If you take longer to eat your meal or have several courses, you may also need to take more enzymes, and spread them out over the meal. Read more about taking enzymes.
Alcohol and insulin
Talk to your diabetes team about whether you can have a small amount of alcohol, and how much they would suggest as the limit.
Drinking and hypos
Drinking alcohol makes hypoglycaemia more likely. And if you have had too much alcohol, you may not recognise or treat a hypo properly.
Other people can mistake the signs of a hypo for being drunk. It’s important to tell people you are with when drinking alcohol that you have diabetes. You may also want to tell them how to treat a hypo so that they can help you if this does happen.
Things to be aware of when drinking alcohol
- Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, or after exercise. Always have some starchy carbohydrate when drinking alcohol.
- Always carry identification with you, as well as a hypo treatment and your pancreatic enzymes when you are out.
- Always have a starchy carbohydrate snack, such as cereal or toast, before going to bed if you have been drinking alcohol. Don’t forget to take your pancreatic enzymes with this if you are prescribed them.
- If you have a sugary drink, your blood sugar level may rise to begin with. But if this drink contains alcohol, your blood sugar level will drop again later.
- Some alcoholic drinks such as beer, lager and cider contain carbohydrate. They are likely to cause a short-term rise in your blood sugar levels. Drinks such as sweet sherries and liqueurs contain a lot of sugar.
- Wine, champagne and spirits don’t contain much carbohydrate, and so will cause only a small rise in blood sugar levels – or no rise at all. But they may cause a hypo.
- Low alcohol wine and beer are high in sugar, so they will make your blood sugar levels rise to begin with, and then fall.
- If you drink more than the recommended amount, all alcoholic drinks will make your blood sugar levels fall several hours after drinking. This will increase the risk of hypos through the night and into the next day. The NHS website has information about the recommended amount of alcohol.
- Check your blood sugar levels more often the day after drinking alcohol, as you will still be at risk of hypos.