11 No-Alcohol Drinks for People With Diabetes

No Alcohol DrinksSmart Swaps

No doubt: Water is the perfect drink: No calories, sugar, or carbs, and it’s as close as a tap. Want something tastier? You have options.

It’s true that some drinks cross the line. You can make swaps or easy homemade versions for many of them. These tasty treats can fit into your diabetes diet and still satisfy your cravings.

1. Chocolate Milk

This treat may remind you of the school lunchroom, but it’s a good calcium-rich choice for grownups as well. Low-fat chocolate milk can be a good post-workout recovery drink. The bad news: Ready-made brands come packed with sugar. Try this at home: Mix 1% milk, 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons of the artificial sweetener of your choice for a homemade version that saves you 70 calories, 16 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fat compared to 1 cup of store-bought, reduced-fat chocolate milk.

2. Sweet Tea

A 16-ounce fast-food version might have up to 36 grams of carbs. That’s a lot of sugar, especially when you consider the simple alternatives. Sugar-free iced tea or iced tea crystals are good carb-free choices. But you can also easily make your own: Steep tea with your favorite crushed fruit (raspberries are a good choice). Strain, chill, and then sweeten with your choice of sugar substitute. That’s a tall glass of refreshment.

3. Orange Juice

Orange juice tastes good, but with 26 grams of carbs in one cup, you’re a lot better off eating a whole orange instead. The fiber will help keep you full. If you really want to drink it, look for orange-flavored light fruit drink. Look for a brand with 3 grams of carbs, 15 calories, and 100% of your daily vitamin C.

4. Chai Latte

It’s sweet, spicy, fragrant, and creamy. What’s not to love? The typical coffeehouse version packs a whopping 33 grams of carbs. Fortunately, you can easily make one at home that tastes just as good and is a lot lighter. Steep one or two chai tea bags in a cup of unsweetened almond milk, and spice it up with cinnamon and black pepper for an extra flavor kick. That’s a warm treat with less than 1 gram of carbs.

5. Lemonade

Nothing says summer like lemonade. But 16 ounces of a popular brand served at restaurants gives you 60 grams of carbs. Making lemonade at home is really your best bet. Combine water, fresh squeezed lemons, zero-calorie artificial sweetener, and ice for a truly refreshing beverage without a single carb or calorie in sight.

6. Hot Chocolate

It’s the ultimate in decadent drinks. Coffeehouse-style versions of this classic are packed with carbs. A typical medium hot chocolate made with low-fat milk has 60 grams. Good news: You can make your own satisfying mug for less than half that. Combine 1 cup of low-fat milk with 2 squares of 70% dark chocolate, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and a little cinnamon. Melt in a saucepan, and enjoy it for only 23 grams of carbs.

7. Apple Cider

When there’s a chill in the air and the leaves are turning colors, nothing beats a fragrant cup of hot apple cider. And though it may be farm-fresh, the cider packs the same amount of carbs per serving as plain old apple juice — 26 grams per cup. Instead, choose a light apple juice cocktail, and you’ll cut the carbs and calories in half.

8. Energy Drinks

Energy drinks sport 10-25 mg caffeine per ounce, so depending on how much you drink, you could be guzzling way more than you realize. That’s a problem since caffeine can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Still want a jolt? Pick a sugar-free drink (regular has enough sugar for a meal), and limit total caffeine to no more than 400 mg over the course of a day.

9. Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies seem like a good choice, but they almost always include a lot of carbs and sugar. One 12-ounce mango-flavored smoothie from a popular chain, for example, has 58.5 grams of carbs. That’s equal to an apple and a sandwich combined. Substitute a homemade berry smoothie, with half a cup each of blueberries, strawberries, and banana. Blend with some ice and enjoy for about half the amount of carbs.

10. Ginger Ale

A 20-ounce bottle of ginger ale can have 60 grams of carbs. You can have more of the zesty ginger flavor with none of the sugar or carbs by adding a spoonful of finely grated ginger to a glass of seltzer water. Add a bit of your favorite zero-calorie sugar substitute, and enjoy.

11. Café Mocha

Chocolate and coffee are a great pairing. The bittersweet flavor combo makes it a popular coffeehouse drink. But some have more than 300 calories and 40 grams of carbs, so it’s not your best choice. Instead, make your mocha by combining 1 cup brewed coffee with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons low-fat milk, and a little of your favorite zero-calorie sugar substitute. You’ll save more than 300 calories, 40 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of fat.

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