As Halloween approaches, people tend to conjure up visions of black cats, witches and costumes.
But for children, one image tends to block out all others – CANDY. After all, isn’t the whole point of trick-or-treating to get a sack full of sweets?
If your child has diabetes, you may be concerned that he could miss out on the fun or become seriously ill. Not to worry.
Your child can still enjoy Halloween and the requisite candy – as long as you balance her carbohydrate intake with appropriate amounts of insulin.
Here are some tricks to help ensure a happy Halloween:
- Keep diabetes supplies handy. When you go trick-or-treating, take along your child’s meter, glucose tabs, gel, juice or other supplies. Test blood sugar at the start and midway.
- Learn about carbs. Before Halloween, familiarize yourself with the carbohydrate counts of different candies and determine which candies and how much your child can eat.
- Adjust your child’s insulin. Balance the candy they eat with the needed insulin. You may contact your child’s diabetes team to discuss proper dosages.
- Offer healthy options, keeping in mind that it’s the total carbs that count. You might try sugar-free candy, fruit, whole-wheat cookies, chips or yogurt.
- Don’t let your child overdose on candy. Help them appreciate delayed gratification as they take their time eating their “loot.” Make sure they know the candy won’t spoil.
- Test sugar levels often.
- Delay buying candy until right before Halloween, so that it isn’t a temptation.
- Encourage exercise, which helps lower blood glucose.
- Promote generosity. Your child may ultimately feel good if he gives away some of his candy.
- Teach negotiation skills. Perhaps your child can bribe her siblings (or even you) to do her chores in exchange for some of her candy. Everyone wins!
Carb counts. For a list of the carbohydrate content of popular Halloween candies, visit http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/youth/halloween-candy-carbohydrate.pdf.
Sugar-free Halloween candy. In addition to common sugar-free hard candies, these websites offer sugar-free jelly beans, Marshmallow Peeps, licorice, chocolate bars and Gummy Bears. Check out http://www.candywarehouse.com/candy-type/sugar-free-candy/ and http://www.blaircandy.com/sugar-free-halloween-candy.html.
More information. For more tips and the latest diabetes news, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.
Janet Haas is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and diabetes program coordinator for Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.