Having PKU does not mean that alcohol is off limits. You just need to be aware of the type you choose to drink.
What you should know
- The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18 years
- Some alcoholic drinks such as those that contain milk, egg or cream contain protein and therefore phenylalanine (Phe) e.g. If you choose to have these drinks you must count them in the usual way
- Beer does contain protein with 0.9g protein in each 285ml glass of regular beer
- Spirits may be mixed with diet soft drinks. Many diet soft drinks also contain Phe due to the artificial sweetener used. If you want to mix a drink, do not choose a diet mixer
- You can keep track of how much alcohol you are having by counting your standard drinks
- Alcoholic drinks that do not contain Phe will not affect your blood Phe levels. However the effect of drinking too much alcohol is the same for people with and without PKU!
What is a Standard Drink?
A standard drink is any amount of drink that contains 10 grams of alcohol.
Examples of a standard drink include:
- 330ml beer
- 1 small glass wine/100ml
- 30ml spirits
For more examples of typical drinks, check out www.alcohol.org.nz
For healthy men and women, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends no more than 2 standard drinks per day, to reduce the risk of alcohol related conditions.
How do I count standard drinks?
To count your standard drinks check your drink serving size and simply add up the numbers.
For example if a person has one nip of spirits and two average* restaurant glasses of wine, they would have consumed 4 standard drinks (1 + 1.5 + 1.5).
*An average serving of wine is usually 150ml. Depending on the venue, glass size can vary from 120 to 180ml.
Aspartame in Drinks
Aspartame is found in alcoholic drinks that are mixed with diet drinks (e.g. rum and diet coke). As aspartame contains Phe, it needs to be avoided.
Some beer and lager may also contain aspartame; therefore it is always best to check the labeling.
Drinks Containing Cream
As creamy alcoholic drinks (such as baileys, creamy liquors or creamy cocktails) contain protein, it is best to avoid these drinks.
Please Note: The dietary treatment for PKU varies for each person so all information presented here is for guidance only. Your own dietitian and/or doctor will advise you on all aspects relating to management of PKU for you and your family.