Making Halloween Safe and Fun for Kids with Diabetes - Juvenile Diabetes
For parents of kids with diabetes, Halloween can be a real test of will and spirit. Sending your child off to trick or treat may feel a bit like letting Augustus Gloop loose in Willy Wonka's famed factory -- floating up the chocolate river without a paddle. But with a little preparation, you and your children can have a safe and happy Halloween.
What parents need to know about kids, candy, and Halloween:
- Candy is dandy....as long as it's in moderation. Despite popular misconceptions, sugar is not completely off limits for kids and adults with well-controlled diabetes. Make sure the carbohydrate counts of candy are figured into your child's meal plan and covered by his or her insulin. Your child may want to stash some of his sweets to treat lows. Sock the rest away for snacks or sharing with friends.
- Treats don't have to be sweets. Stickers, small toys, books, rubber spiders, and other gifts make great goodies for little ghouls.
- Fun-size it. The smaller version of the real thing is just the ticket for kids with diabetes. Keep some extra fun-sized packages of your kids favorites from your own Halloween handouts so you can trade any high sugar or large size candy items for them. One caveat: don't let size fool you. The of a fun-sized chocolate bar runs around 10-15 g, while a Milky Way fun-sized bar contains 43 g. Always read the label.
- Set up shop. Susan Perry, R.D., C.D.E., a diabetes educator affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center, suggests that parents "buy" some of the overflow from their kids haul and allow them to use the money to purchase an appropriate toy or book.
- Trade it in. A variation on buying the loot is to barter for it. Parents can purchase a bag of fun non-candy Halloween goodies and make a game of swapping sweets for non-edible treats.
- Scare the pants off of 'em. Sure, candy is a big part of Halloween, but spooky stories, haunted houses, pumpkin carving, and other ghastly pastimes are even more important. If your kids are old enough, consider hosting a monster bash and put the focus on the fun instead of the food.
- Fun for the five and under set. Smaller children may also enjoy a costume party or Halloween parade with age-appropriate activities. Put them to work pumpkin painting, bobbing for apples, or building scarecrows. Limiting trick-or-treating to the homes of friends and neighbors can keep the total amount of candy to a reasonable level.
Your child should check blood glucose levels often if they are participating in parties, parades, or strenuous activities. The same goes for after treats. An insulin adjustment may also be in order. Check with your child's doctor for advice on covering extra carbohydrates with adjusted insulin dosage.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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