Six Tricks to Enjoy Halloween with diabetes.

trick or treating with diabetes
from Charles Schultz

It is that time of year again, time to get ready for the Great Pumpkin and all of the fun…and anxiety that Halloween can bring many parents. For those families dealing with diabetes for the first time, the stress of trick or treating with diabetes can be greater than dealing with the challenges of Christmas.

Children are invited to Halloween parties.  There are Halloween events at school and there is the inevitable night of trick or treating.  What do you do with all of that sugar?? Well here are a few things that have helped some parents get through.

Eat while they walk

Its okay to let your child eat candy while he/she is out trick or treating. In fact, go ahead and encourage it (as long as usual Halloween safety rules are applied of course–Mom/Dad checks candy or it is from the home of a good family friend).  All of the walking, running and general excitement will most likely lead to some serious low blood sugars.  You can help to avoid this by letting your child eat the bars, rockets (Smarties for my US friends) and other treats. Your child will feel “normal” and it will be a fun way to keep blood glucose levels in range.

Halloween treats are great from treating lows when you have diabetes

Halloween is the perfect time to stock up on low supplies. It offers fabulous 15-gram packs of sugar just perfect to carry in your bag and treat lows. In fact, even if your child doesn’t take part in Halloween events, you may want to head to the grocery store during this time to grab a few bags of low treats and save a few dollars! They tend to be a lot cheaper than buying glucose tablets from the grocery store.

halloween treats at mealsMake Halloween treats part of a meal

If you like to stick to a set meal plan, you can still add in some of your child’s Halloween treats. A bag of chips is equivalent to a bread exchange. A snack-sized chocolate bar is the equivalent of a fruit exchange.  For a treat, allow your child to have one of their Halloween items as part of a meal or snack.

Buy the candy back

Some families offer their children cash for their candy.  The children can then take the money that they earned collecting candy to purchase a book, game or favourite toy.  Mom and Dad can take the candy to work or save it to enjoy during some downtime when the kids are in bed!

The Great Pumpkin

Have the Great Pumpkin or Halloween witch come to visit.  Much like buying the candy, parents will exchange the candy while the child sleeps.  In place of their loot, the child will receive a movie pass, book or other treats that don’t involve food.

Donate it

Yet another way for our children to learn care and compassion is to take their candy to a local hospital or hostel. Have them share their candy with children who are unable to go out for Halloween.

Halloween is often a fun time for children. Remember that children with diabetes are children first.  Use some of the tips above to ensure that your child has a fun and memorable Halloween or let us know what works for you in the comments!

How to Survive Hallowe’en

I have seen a lot of posts online lately about parents stressing over food and issues surrounding Halloween.  In 2014, there is no reason to have to do this.  Yes, food and diabetes take a bit more work. Yes, special occasions and diabetes can take a bit more planning but our children with diabetes can still eat, enjoy and partake like all other children.  Here are four ideas to help get you through Halloween this year.

1.  The Halloween Witch.  Some families have an issue with the amount of candy being given out at Halloween period.  Diabetes or not, they just don’t want all of that junk around for their family to indulge in.  This has led to the creation of things like the Halloween Witch or the Great Pumpkin, who come at night and take all of the children’s candy leaving behind toys, games or cash in exchange for the treats.

2.  Save Treats for lows. Halloween offers a great time to stock up on things like Rockets and juice packs that are great for treating lows.  While you are looking through your child’s loot bag, take out items that are not high fat but offer 10-15g of fast acting carbohydrates.  Put them in safe place and use them as an alternative to juice or glucose tabs when your child is low.

3.  Share with others.  Re-gift those Halloween treats and take them to shelters or the children’s ward at your local hospital.  Repacking  the treats and sharing with others can be a great lesson for children whether they have diabetes or not.

4. Count the carbs and enjoy the treats! Halloween treats can also be factored into your child’s current meal plan.  If you are using a restrictive regimen that counts things like fruits and starches, most chocolate bars and small treats are 9-10g of CHO and a perfect substitute for a fruit at a meal or snack.  Bags of chips are often 15g of CHO and again perfectly replace a slice of bread.  There are extensive lists of carb counts found all over the internet including one at Diabetes Advocacy as well as a selection at Children with Diabetes, and ConnecT1D.

If you child is doing a lot of walking when gathering their treats, allowing them to snack on one or two things as they go can also help to maintain bg levels while enjoying the fun and excitement of the day!

Remember to breathe.  Try to relax…well maybe on November 1st.  And no matter how you chose to handle the holidays, please do not let diabetes ruin your child’s fun…or yours.