Halloween. Boo! Scary lives large.
But in truth, having diabetes and joining in the festivities of Halloween does not have to be as scary as you may worry it will be or could be. Take a breath. Relax.
When our kids were little trick or treaters, almost every year Kaitlyn, who has type 1, would run low. But why give her a glucose tablet when we had a whole bag of candy right in front of us? Of course it would have been much more manageable if she had a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM), like she does now but these were the bad old days folks when we tested blood sugar the old fashioned way.
Giving her some candy was a fun, alternate sugar source for the day and went a long way toward making Kaitlyn feel normal. On Halloween, she was just another kid dressed up in costume in the group of kids trick or treating. We didn't let her diabetes interfere in the experience.
Like the resourcesful parents we are, we found clever ways to minimize the temptation of having too many sweets on Halloween and beyond. One of our best tricks, I mean alternatives to sugar overload, involved letting Kaitlyn pick some candy to keep in a separate bowl and giving the rest to us for cash that could later be redeemed for a toy.
This turned out to be a brillant strategy. Eventually we added going out to dinner prior to the toy store trip and that's when it became a real homerun. This special, annual event helped to take her mind off all the candy she was missing and turned it into something she looked forward to every year.
The mystique of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was an important part of many family's Halloween tradition back in the day. The Peanuts' classic, which happens to be celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year (it debuted Oct. 27, 1966), made it permissible to leave candy by the front door over night. At our house, the Great Pumpkin would magically appear during the wee hours, take the sugary loot and leave a really cool toy or game behind for the kids. Watching Charlie Brown and the gang together prior to Halloween night was bonus—and wonderful—family time, too.
Whether you take the candy and place it in a bowl, or leave it in their goodie bags, do not be afraid to make some ‘substitutions’ as your little goblins sleep. Add some fruit and other low carb snacks such as popcorn, or consider substituting it for some sugar free candy or gum. (You can always hide excess candy in the freezer and save for a later date or use to reward good behavior when blood sugar permits), are other good ways to handle Halloween and diabetes.
And of course don't forget the fun in stickers and small games that can easily be added to their treat bags. My wife and I always enjoyed watching the reaction the next day when they discovering our treats and wondered how they missed all that cool stuff the night before. We just told them it had been there all along. They had just been too tired to notice.
The key to making Halloween a "boo-tiful" night for everyone is to keep it fun and engaging for the kids. Don't make it a night of can'ts....candy they can't have; things they can't do. Halloween is fun and should stay that way—even with diabetes.
I am a diabetes dad.