Halloween is all about candy and can therefore be a stressful time for parents of a child living with diabetes. Here are a few tips to make this holiday enjoyable for everyone.

Not just candy

There is much more to Halloween than the simple pleasure of eating candy. Putting up Halloween decorations, carving the pumpkin, choosing a costume, special Halloween makeup for your child and, of course, going trick-or-treating with family and friends – these are all activities that create a festive mood.

Offering kids a non-edible surprise bag can be a marvelous way to complement the usual sweets. Kids like stickers, temporary tattoos, figurines, pencils and other small toys in Halloween colours just as much as candy

Sort the loot

Once you’re home from the tour, it’s time to sort. That mountain of colorful sweets on the table is tempting! Here are a few suggestions to help children manage their loot – and it’s good for all kids!

  • Let the child eat a few treats on the evening of the party, giving the required amount of insulin before eating. It can also be combined with a protein source to minimize the risk of hyperglycemia followed by hypoglycemia.
  • Candies that takes longer to eat, such as lollipops, hard candies or chewing gum, treats with less than 15 g of carbohydrates (mini chocolate bars and jelly beans, small bags of popcorn, fruit leathers, etc.), as well as a few of your child’s favorites, can be part of the batch of candies that will be kept.
  • Some of the candy (not the chocolates and chips) could also be separated into small bags of 15g carbohydrate portions to treat future hypoglycemia. It is important, however, that hypoglycemia should not be the only occasion for the child to eat sweets.
  • Suggest a swap: some of the candy for a non-food but attractive surprise, such as a toy or even a outing to the movies.

Post Halloween

  • Keep candy out of sight in a kitchen cupboard.
  • Set a maximum number of treats to be eaten in the few days following Holloween. This rule should apply to the whole family. Offer small amounts of sweets, for example at the end of a meal, always making the necessary insulin adjustments.

It’s normal for your child to eat more sweets than usual on this occasion. By setting fair limits for all family members and proposing strategies to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, you show your child that it’s possible to eat all kinds of foods. This will help them develop a healthy relationship with food.

Helpful resources

External resources

To find out the nutritional value of a few treats and snacks:

Research and writing: Diabetes Québec’s team of health professionals

July 2022