How to Survive Halloween When You Have Diabetes

Expert tips for helping your T1D child have fun on a day devoted to candy!

It's hard to believe that Halloween is a week away. No doubt you noticed the stockpile of holiday candies lining store shelves starting early last month. Perhaps these goodies have even begun to make their way into your workplace and home. When you have to monitor your carbohydrate intake to manage healthy blood sugar levels, it can seem like Halloween time is a surefire ways to derail your efforts.

monster mouths halloweenMonster Mouths: Apple slices, plus peanut or almond butter and a handful of yogurt covered raisins. Or use slivered almonds instead of raisins to lower the glycemic load.

But don’t stress. With a few easy tricks you will see more of a treat on the screen of your glucose monitor rather than a scary number. Here's how:

#1. Keep Halloween candy under wraps as much as possible.
Do you remember when you were a child what would happen when you saw a bowl of candy somewhere? You most likely wanted a piece (or two, or three!). Well, this doesn't change just because you are an adult. When you see a bowl of candy that you like within arms reach, chances are you're going to want to dig in.

Even if you resist the urge to indulge, the more often you see the candy, the more likely you will be to eventually break down and eat some. This is especially true if you see the candy during times of high stress, such as a bowl of candy on your desk at work. If coworkers, roommates, or spouses insist on keeping Halloween-themed food out as a source of decoration, see if they will compromise on healthier alternatives, such as popcorn or individual bags of nuts over sugary candy. And regardless of what goes into the bowl, try swapping the bowl for an opaque color over a clear one.

Research has found individuals consume more food from clear bowls within arms reach than those in opaque colored ones.

#2. Assume you will indulge in a treat and plan accordingly.
You heard right. Swearing off candy altogether only works for a small percentage. So if you're going to treat yourself to a sweet treat, then you're much better off planning for the best type and time to do so. Throughout the Halloween season, it’s important to be realistic. Sure, you can swear off having any candy at all, but for most of us, we will indulge a bit. And that’s all right even with diabetes as long as you are smart about it. Before you grab any Halloween treat, make sure you know what’s actually in the food you are about to eat. Look at the Nutrition Facts panel (on the package or look it up online if you don’t have access to the label) and identify the grams of carbohydrate the treat contains.

Have an honest discussion with your healthcare team about your desire to have a small treat once in a while throughout the Halloween season and how to best incorporate it into your meal plan. If you bolus insulin at mealtime, you may be able to adjust your dose accordingly to compensate for the additional carbohydrates. If you are on oral medication, you may be able to replace one of your traditional carbohydrate servings for a small piece of candy. As long as this exchange is done infrequently, it shouldn’t have a negative impact on blood sugar or overall health.

#3. Stock up on healthy alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings. The reason: while an infrequent indulgence around Halloween time won’t have too much of a negative impact. However, if those indulgences start to become a bit more frequent, they can begin to increase blood sugar levels and body weight. Swap the sweet treats out for smarter options such as:

  • air-popped popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • individually-wrapped packages of freeze-dried fruit (choose options with no added sugars).
  • individual servings of nuts and seeds (some brands even have flavor options such as cocoa roasted which can provide a great alternative to chocolate covered candies).

You can even get creative and make festive treats that are healthy for everyone such as making the "monster mouths," above; banana ‘ghosts’ using a banana placed on a popsicle stick dipped in yogurt and frozen; carve a jack-o-lantern face into an orange, or create creepy ‘fingers’ out of carrot sticks and silvered almonds. With a little creativity, you can enjoy all of the festivities of Halloween while keeping your health in check.


Updated on: March 29, 2018
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