Halloween tips to help kids with diabetes enjoy the holiday

Halloween for children with diabetes can be a challenge for the entire family. Here are seven tips to help families prepare.

For many kids, Halloween is a big sugar rush. But for children with diabetes, the holiday can be very challenging for the entire family. Fortunately, kids with diabetes still can enjoy the holiday. It just requires a different approach. Parents should plan ahead to work candy into their child’s diabetes meal plan or ensure they get enough insulin to cover the carbohydrates in the candy.

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Halloween tips for children with diabetes

At the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, we offer families the following tips on how to enjoy Halloween:

  1. Plan ahead.Sit down with your child in advance to discuss specific Halloween plans so they know what to expect. Involving your child with these plans will increase the chance of sticking to the plans.
  2. Know your candy.Educate yourself and your child about how certain types of candy impact the body. Some candy, such as Skittles or Starburst, can be used to treat low blood sugar, but chocolate and other high-fat treats don’t work as well. Talking about candy is a good opportunity to teach your child how to cover carbohydrates with insulin.
  3. Limit pieces of candy per day.Teach your child moderation. Set a rule on how many pieces of candy your child can have in a day, as long as blood sugar levels aren’t too high. Stick to this plan and apply it to everyone in the house, not just to the child with diabetes.
  4. Divide the candy properly.Divide treats into servings of 15 grams of carbohydrates and bag them individually. This will help keep your child from eating too much at one time.
  5. Prepare activities that don’t involve food.Take the focus off candy. Encourage arts and crafts such as pumpkin carving, watching Halloween movies, going on a hayride or visiting a haunted house.
  6. Select a favorite; donate the rest.Pick treats your child can enjoy throughout the week and get rid of or donate the rest.
  7. Play “make a trade.”Let your kids trade pieces of candy for nonfood items, such as a movie ticket, trip to the zoo, new toy, family outing, money, chores, gift card, etc. This can help redefine the word “treat.”

Whitney A. Cessna, M.S., RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute.