5 TRICKS FOR NAVIGATING HALLOWEEN TREATS WITH DIABETES
It’s almost time for little witches and ghosts to appear at your doorstep. For children with diabetes, Halloween can be a troublesome time to maintain blood sugar goals. But with a little imagination and education, finding alternative activities and carb-smart candy choices can make the day a success.
1. MAKE SURE TO PLAN AHEAD
Start early and involve the family in planning a safe and fun Halloween. For younger children, speak to nearby friends and neighbors in advance, asking them to provide non-candy treats such as Halloween pencils or small toys. Or organize a costume parade in the neighborhood.
Don’t wait until the last minute to look into activities planned by local churches or community centers. Some may require tickets or have limited attendance. For older children, helping with Trunk or Treat events, or enjoying corn mazes and spook houses can be a lot of fun.
2. ORGANIZE NON-CANDY ACTIVITIES
Halloween isn’t all about candy. There are lots of non-candy Halloween activities that are fun for kids and parents as well.
Take a trip to the pumpkin patch. This is a must, and often an annual tradition, for some families. Choosing a pumpkin, taking a hayride, and face painting are some of the activities that can be found here. When the pumpkin patch is at a farm, take advantage of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Pick up some gourds, squashes, and haystacks for decorating as well.
Organize a pumpkin decorating contest with friends or neighbors or plan a scary movie night. Serve up diabetic-friendly snacks such as “pumpkin oranges” or “ghost bananas“. These are fun and provide about 15 grams of carbohydrates each. Add some popcorn for only about 6 grams of carbs in one cup.
Consider turning your pumpkin decorating contest into a fundraiser. Provide the pumpkins and decorating tools, collect entry fees, and donate all proceeds to a local nonprofit or family in need.
3. GET “MOVING” WITH ACTIVE GAMES OR CONTESTS
With diabetes, exercise should be a regular part of the plan for meeting blood sugar goals. At Halloween, consider making it more fun by entering a local ghost or zombie walk/run. There are a few organized events in the Washington D.C. area. You can find these on the Racemob website.
Add a pumpkin cornhole game or hula hoop contest to your Halloween get-together. Or organize a treasure hunt. Make it a race to find the treasure, to promote physical activity.
Encourage neighborhood children to decorate their bicycles and helmets. Have them ride around the block to show off their work. Alert neighbors to the time and place to cheer them on.
4. BE SMART ABOUT EATING HALLOWEEN CANDY WITH DIABETES
Limit the amount of candy allowed per day, as well as the time it is eaten. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating candy as part of a healthy meal or before exercise.
Become familiar with the carbohydrate count of common candies. Making a carb-for-carb substitution can help avoid blood sugar swings. You can find a helpful Carb Counts chart on the Children withDiabetes website.
If you want to participate in the fun of trick-or-treating, but don’t want all the candy you collect, consider donating candy to a Halloween candy buyback program. Local businesses can register for a scheduled event. They buy back donated candy for cash, coupons, or other incentives, and send the candy along with care packages to US troops overseas. Dentists often participate in buybacks to reduce the excess candy kids may eat and offer toothbrushes or other creative items.
While glucose tabs are the most appropriate way to treat hypoglycemia, keeping non-chocolate candy can be useful for treating lows. These include hard candy, skittles, and lifesavers, as well as licorice sticks and starburst. The fat in chocolate slows down the absorption of glucose, and won’t react quickly when you need it.
5. TRADE CANDY FOR A NON-CANDY ITEM OR EVENT
Suggest kids consider trading candy for a non-candy item or event. This not only reduces sugar intake but gives a new meaning to the word “treat”.
For example, 10 pieces of candy might “buy” a trip to the movie theater. Or kids can “cash in” 10 pieces of candy for an agreed-upon dollar amount.
Incentives will depend on the age of the child. Younger kids may agree to swap for a small toy or action figure. Older children might appreciate a desired video game, a weekend camping trip, or tickets to a ballgame. The “price” will vary with the magnitude of the treat. This is a good exercise in negotiating, as well as cutting back on candy!
THE BOTTOM LINE ON NAVIGATING HALLOWEEN WITH DIABETES
Plan ahead. Look for non-candy activities offered in the community, by local schools, businesses, and churches. Or consider organizing your own events. Ask family and neighbors to lend a hand or participate.
When candy is included in a diabetic diet, it is important to make wise choices and monitor blood sugar levels. Eating candy with a healthy meal or before exercise can help avoid blood sugar spikes. Look for fun ways to include exercise, such as a Halloween race or treasure hunt. Become familiar with the carbohydrate count of common candies and make smart substitutions.
If faced with excess candy, seek out community buyback events in your area. They reduce candy intake while supporting and contributing to others. Offer children your own buyback incentives and help to modify their perception of “treats”.
If you need more information on how to navigate Halloween with diabetes, call or make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians who can help answer your questions and offer guidance.
Call today at 240-449-3094