Candy isn’t the enemy. It can be part of the holiday if consumed in moderation, with necessary adjustments to a child’s diabetes treatment.
Halloween is all about candy and can therefore be a stressful time for parents with a diabetic child. 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
The moment your child returns home after trick-or-treating, you should begin sorting the loot. Some sweets should be put aside, such as large chocolate bars, candy high in carbohydrates and soft candies that get swallowed quickly (e.g.: caramels). Candy that takes longer to eat, like suckers, hard candy or chewing gum, treats with less than 15 g of carbohydrates (mini chocolate bars and gummies, small bags of popcorn, fruit leathers, etc.), as well as a few “favourites”, can be part of the batch of candy that you keep for your diabetic child.
Suggest a non-edible but appealing surprise, like a toy or even an outing to the movies, in exchange for the candies that you’ve set aside.
Obviously, a mountain of colourful treats piled on the table is very tempting! Let your child eat a few on Halloween. Then put the “chosen” candies away in the kitchen rather than in the child’s room.
Set a fixed number of candies that your child may eat for a few days after Halloween. This rule should apply to everyone in the family. Offer a small number of sweets, after the evening meal, for example, and always make the necessary adjustments to the child’s diabetes treatment.
To learn the nutritional value of certain sweets and snacks, consult Health Canada’s pamphlet, Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods.
Research and text: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team
August 2014 (updated on August 2018)
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Galibois, Isabelle, (2005), “Les situations particulières,” Le diabète de type 1 et ses défis alimentaires quotidiens. Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, pp. 211-230.
Geoffroy, L. and Gonthier, M., (2012), “Les petites gâteries et les édulcorants,” Le diabète chez l’enfant et l’adolescent, 2nd edtion, Montréal: Éditions du CHU Ste-Justine, pp. 231-240.
Diabetes Canada (2013), 8 Halloween tips for children with Diabetes (webpage consulted on August 15, 2014).
Neithercott, Tracey, (2010), Enjoying Halloween when you have diabetes, American Diabetes Association (webpage consulted on August 15, 2014.)