This post is in response to a question I received from a reader. She has a 10 year old daughter with Type 1 who is going trick or treating tonight dressed up as a black cat. She wanted to know what my Halloween experience was as a child.
I cannot really talk too much about how difficult Halloween is for diabetic children because I actually did not get diagnosed with diabetes until I was 17.
As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays because I loved to dress up in a costume and go trick or treating with my sister and friends. In addition to the gobs and gobs of candy we got on Nichol Lane and Richland Ave in Nashville, we went to Halloween parties and ate caramel apples, popcorn balls and pumpkin bread. For me, one of the thrills of Halloween was getting tons of candy, eating a lot of it on the one night of the year that my parents didn't enforce more balanced eating habits, and trading the Mounds and Milky Way's (yuck) for Reese's (my absolute favorite).
|Candy sculpture made from more than 3,000 pieces of unwanted Halloween candy. Artist Leo Sewell created this rocket ship which was commissioned by Nestle Crunch.|
Diabetic children want to be normal and enjoy the thrill of Halloween, just like everyone else. Parents and care providers allow them to indulge in a few pieces of candy and adjust their insulin levels accordingly. The problems arise when there is tons of left-over candy and when other children in the same family get to eat more candy than the diabetic child.
I guess the trick is to take the focus of Halloween off of candy and take the opportunity to teach all kids that they should never eat more than a piece or two at a time. When looking at the health statistics of our country, it's clear that some education on healthy eating would be beneficial to children everywhere. Halloween night might not be the easiest night to do this, but it's something to think about.
Halloween can be a great time to teach diabetic children how to balance holidays and their diets. Like I said before, I am really glad I was able to enjoy Halloween as a kid before diagnosis. I don't think, however, that a diabetic child cannot enjoy Halloween as much as a child without the disease. It is important to indulge in a little something every once in a while, and everyone deserves to be a kid on Halloween, no matter their age!
|"Candy Couture" for Dylan's Candy Bar, NYC|
Ideas for Halloween in a Diabetic Household:
1) fill children up with healthy dinners before taking them trick-or-treating
2) make costumes and pumpkin-carving the focus of Halloween, rather than candy
3) make artwork with the leftover candy
4) exchange dimes for your children's candy... every kid loves to make a little change!
5) take the extra candy to school and use the opportunity to teach other kids in the classroom about counting carbohydrates and diabetes
6) allow your child to indulge in a few pieces
There is great information and advice for dealing with Type 1 Diabetes on JDRF.com. Here is their "Halloween Survival Guide for Parents" : http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?page_id=105984
See how many carbs are in each different kind of candy here: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?page_id=106002
Tricks -not- Treats,