Diabetes Holiday Survival Guide – Podcast

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Amy Campbell talks about easy steps to face the holiday season head-on.

Host: Gloria Tsang, RD
Guest: Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE

The holiday festivity can be a challenge for people with diabetes. But there is no reason to get stressed about it. Diabetes nutritionist Amy Campbell, Nutrition Education Manager at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet talks about easy steps to face the holiday season head-on.



Gloria Tsang, RD: Welcome to the Nutrition Tidbits Podcast. This is Gloria Tsang, Editor-in-Chief for HealthCastle.com. The holiday festivity can be a challenge for people with diabetes but there is no reason to get stressed about it. Joining me today is diabetes nutritionist Amy Campbell, nutrition education manager at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. She is also the author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet. She is here today to talk about easy steps to face the holiday head-on. Thank you for being with us again Amy.

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: Thank you for having me Gloria.

Gloria Tsang, RD: We often talk about planning ahead being a good strategy for people living with diabetes. What exactly should we plan if we know we are going to head to a party tonight?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: That is a really good question Gloria. I think planning ahead for people with diabetes is essential, particularly around the holidays. We ask people to plan ahead in terms of thinking about what kind of foods to choose and whether they are going to have an alcoholic beverage. It’s also important for people to think about if they are taking medication. For instance, when are they going to take their insulin. Do they bring it to the party with them or not? These are all things that they need to consider before they head of to the party.

Gloria Tsang, RD: So if they know they are going to a party at six o’clock and know that they are going to over eat a little bit as its the holidays, what should they do 6-8 hours prior to the party?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: What we don’t want them to do is skip meals. All too often, people will starve themselves during the day so that they can eat a lot during the night time. That’s really the wrong approach. We want people to eat their regular meals, maybe a little bit on the lighter side that’s fine. And actually, even before they head off to the party, have a small snack. For example, an apple with a little bit of peanut butter or some cheese and crackers. That can prevent them from over eating once they are at the party.

Gloria Tsang, RD: That is a good strategy. So should they start nibbling some snacks 2-4 hours prior to that?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: That’s a great idea. And we don’t want people to over do the snack either but if they have a little bit of a snack a couple of hours before hand, that can take the edge off their appetite and it won’t send their blood glucose levels too high either.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Now what items on the traditional holiday menu are high in carbohydrates and therefore, people with diabetes should pay more attention to?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: There are so many items. Traditional foods like stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and of course, all of the delectable desserts are very high in carbohydrates. It doesn’t mean that people cannot enjoy some of them, but it really means watching portions. A way to get around that is actually try to fill up most of your plate with the non-carbohydrate foods such as turkey meat without the skin, steamed vegetables like green beans and even a nice, big garden salad. And then save a little room on the plate for the homemade stuffing, the mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can even save a little bit of room for a sliver of pie if you want some.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Let’s talk about alcohol. As you know, wine and cocktails are part of the holiday celebrations. So, what should people with diabetes know about alcohol?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: First of all, most people with diabetes can safely drink alcohol but it’s always a good idea for them to check with their physician. People do need to realize that if they are on insulin, or take certain kinds of diabetes pills, that alcohol can actually end up lowering blood glucose levels later on, if they don’t eat anything when they are drinking alcohol. So, if you are going to have a glass of wine or beer or a cocktail, make sure that you have some kind of a carbohydrate food while you are drinking that beverage. Maybe it’s a handful of crackers or maybe you drink it as part of your meal. The other thing to keep in mind is that alcohol is a source of calories so too many cocktails not only can lower your blood sugar but it can contribute to a tighter waist band and you can actually gain weight from alcohol.

Gloria Tsang, RD: So, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Is that what you are trying to say?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: Exactly. Be on the safe side and eat some kind of a carbohydrate food when you drink.

Gloria Tsang, RD: Perfect. Now where can our listeners go to find out more information specifically about holiday diabetic diet tips?

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: If they go to the American Diabetes Association website which is www.diabetes.org, there are some great tips on that website.

Gloria Tsang, RD:Great website. Thank you again for joining me Amy!

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE: Thank you.

Gloria Tsang, RD: We have been talking to nutritionist Amy Campbell, author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet. For more healthy eating tidbits and information about this show, go to HealthCastle.com.


diabetes diet, expert interviews, holidays, podcast, seasonal celebrations


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