Celebrating Halloween with a Diabetic Child: Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Experience
Boo! Halloween is back and we thought it incumbent upon us to post about one of the all-time great days you can have when you’re a kid. Halloween is when vampires and werewolves and all sorts of creepy crawly creatures take center stage – in the form of our children having the time of their lives dressed in their favorite costumes.
But there’s another big part of Halloween and that’s all the pumpkin heads and pillowcases full of candy. For a parent of a child with diabetes, this can understandably add a little extra fright to the night. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there’s no reason kids with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can’t get their Halloween on just like their friends.
Obviously, we’re not suggesting throwing caution to the wind. There are things kids with diabetes and their parents have to pay attention to that other kids and parents get a free pass when it comes to worrying about on Halloween. That’s why we’re creating this post. To give you as a concerned parent some tips on dealing with the year’s sweetest holiday, while making sure your kids have as much fun as possible – which they certainly deserve.
Should I take my child trick or treating?
Yes, you can absolutely take your kid out trick or treating. After all, this is the most exciting part of Halloween, a veritable rite of passage, and most kids don’t want to feel as though they missed out.
Here’s the trick (no pun intended). You have to do a little pre-gaming. Set down some important rules before hitting the neighborhood. These should include the normal safety rules like no running off. But it should also include an extra important rule – no eating candy while trick or treating.
This might be a tad difficult to follow if friends are gobbling up goodies in front of your child, but if you explain before setting out that there’s nothing more important than health, and that diabetes means we have to be extra careful, they’ll likely understand, even amid the occasional grumble.
Better yet, involve friends and the parents of friends in the rule. After all, it’s always safer to wait until you get home and examine candy in a lighted room before eating it. So, make it a group-wide rule, involve the kids, and there you have it – a safe and diabetes-friendly Halloween adventure.
A treat or two is fine
The last thing a parent wants for their child living with diabetes is to feel left out. The key is indulging safely. Many consider allowing your child to have some candy on Halloween to be a good thing because it removes the “taboo” stigma that’s often associated with candy in the diabetes community. You know kids, even wonderful kids like yours – once they’re told they can’t have something, they want it all the more. So be safe. Wait until you get home and are settled to dole out a little bit of candy. Because you’re in the comfort of your home, you can test your child’s blood sugar and make any insulin adjustments if those carbs elevate blood sugar a bit.
Another Halloween option - celebrate at home.
This tip comes from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and while it’s not for everyone, it is certainly a viable Halloween option.
Invite friends and family over to your home for a diabetes-friendly celebration that can have all the spooky fun you want. Create a creepy haunted house or backyard. Carve jack-o-lanterns with the kids. Bob for apples. Host a creepy costume contest. There’s no end to what you can do. Best of all, you’ll be in charge of the treats, which means you can serve up low-sugar goodies and healthy diabetes options. Need some help? Check out these awesomely fun ideas from childrenwithdiabetes.com.
Offer your kids the big candy buy
Another interesting option designed to make your kids feel like they’re winning in the whole low-sugar Halloween agenda is to offer to buy some of that collected candy for cold-hard cash. Kids love feeling like adults and the chance to make a few bucks to buy toys or save up for something special is a pretty good incentive to give up that candy.
Make A sweet donation
Not every child is as fortunate as yours and donating Halloween candy to a food bank or a children’s hospital or to our brave troops stationed overseas is a great way to do some good with your kids. There are plenty of causes out there and kids, particularly those who are a little bit older, tend to feel good about helping others. It’s a win/win. Your child gets to have a fun Halloween and you get to avoid worrying about having all that candy around.
Squirrel that sugar away
The thing about candy, whether it’s Halloween or not, is that a little bit now and then is okay. The good thing about candy is it lasts a long time hidden on the top shelf of your pantry. So put it away. Then, once in a while, you can work a piece or two into your child’s healthy diabetes meal plan.
Got other kids? Involve them!
Siblings may squabble now and then, but ultimately there is nothing closer than family. If you have other young children who do not have diabetes but also love Halloween, involve them in watching out for their brother or sister. They can follow the same rules. They can watch out to make sure there’s no sneaking of treats. When siblings are part of the plan, everyone has a great and safe Halloween – together.
Are you a parent with diabetes?
Halloween isn’t just a challenge for kids. We adults can have a sweet tooth, too, and watching out for ourselves is important because that willpower can quickly fade with too much candy lying around. So, if you’re an adult who wants to give out candy to kids, buy stuff you’re not too crazy about. For example, if you love Snickers, then give out Skittles. If you love Skittles, give out something else. The point is it’s a lot easier to resist candy that you’re not wild about than it is to resist sweet treats you love.
Candy nutrition information
Not all candy is created equal – especially when it comes to the carbs and fat that we have to watch for as people living with diabetes. Luckily, the American Diabetes Association has put together a handy list of popular Halloween candies with some important nutritional information to help you better understand what’s in that candy collection. Check it out here.
Remember, Halloween is more than candy
It’s crazy costumes. It’s carving pumpkins. It’s hanging out with good friends. It’s telling spooky stories. There’s so much more to celebrating the holiday than gobs of sugar. Granted, as a kid, this might be a little hard to see at first. But as a parent, you can do a lot to help them understand that candy is just part of the fun and that the real blast about Halloween is family and friends having a great time. Happy Halloween everyone.