Halloween is right around the corner, and Halloween means SUGAR!
But what about children (and grown-ups) with diabetes who want to participate without sending their blood glucose levels soaring?
Here's some good news: trick-or-treating isn't off-limits.
Yes, of course high blood glucose is a concern.
But you can play it safe by allowing your child to eat candy only once he or she has returned home.
At home, you can dose the correct amount of insulin for the carbs in the candy.
Basically, for diabetic children, parents need to keep a closer eye on everything.
Diabetic kids can have some candy, but parents need to account for the sugar and cover it with insulin.
If parents of diabetic children outright “ban” candy, it increases the chances that kids will sneak it in, which can cause serious health issues.
Instead, help diabetic children to learn how to responsibly manage life with diabetes and still have fun.
Halloween – More Than Just Candy
While you want your child to celebrate the holiday just like all the other kids, parents can also take the focus off sweets.
Focus more on dressing up and trick-or-treating and seeing everyone in the neighborhood, rather than only the candy.
Besides, cutting down on sweets is smart for the whole family, too (with or without diabetes).
Do we really need to eat 10 mini Snickers in one sitting?
No, we don’t.
Fun, Low/No Sugar Halloween Ideas
Host a costume party for the kids, invite some of your child's friends over to carve jack-o'-lanterns, make papier-mâché pumpkins, or for face painting (monsters, goblins, witches, ghouls).
When the party's at home, you can control the sweets, substituting candy for healthier—but still festive—treats.
Move the focus away from getting as much candy as possible, and bring in other activities that kids actively enjoy.
If your diabetic child does come home with a big bag of candy after trick-or-treating, do what some parents do and "buy" their kids' candy with cash (which the child can then use for toys or games), or just trade the candy directly for toys or something else they may want.
Many parents with diabetic kids pick through their children’s Halloween stash and sets aside any non-chocolate sweets for treating future low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), and then donate the rest to a children's hospital for kids who are too ill to trick-or-treat.
This is a great way to teach kids compassion and it's a good reminder to children with diabetes that there are other kids in the world who face much bigger challenges than they.
Experts also recommend buying small toys — example: pencils, plastic rings, or mini containers of Play-Doh — to hand out instead of candy.
This way at the end of the night, you won't be left with buckets full of sweets that will tempt both you and your children.
An Opportunity To Teach Life Lessons
If a diabetic child does come home with sack full of candy, they may be tempted to eat it all at once.
This is a perfect time to teach portion control (a great lesson for grown-ups too).
Teaching moderation across the board is important, especially when we get closer to the end-of-year holiday season, because we tend not to moderate well during the holidays.
Set a rule as to how many pieces of candy your child can eat each day – as long as their blood glucose isn't high – and stick to it.
If you have more than one child, set the rules for everybody to make sure your child with diabetes doesn't feel left out.
Above all, it's important to remember that even with diabetes, no holiday foods are “forbidden”.
See The Big Picture
Enjoy treats in moderation, but remember that there's more to Halloween than sweets.
Even with diabetes, we don't want to prevent kids from having regular, sensible childhood experiences.
See Halloween is an opportunity to teach kids with diabetes how to safely incorporate sweets into their lives.
Beyond sugar, you'll enjoy Halloween the most when your focus is on friends, family, and celebration—instead of what you can or cannot eat!
Diabetes Halloween Resources
Diabetes Friendly Halloween Treats - From Diabetes Forecast
Diabetic Friendly Halloween Treats - From The Diabetes Research Connection
Tips from the Joslin Diabetes Center