Kids with diabetes can enjoy Halloween with parents’ advance planning

Children in costumes sitting down together with their candy buckets

For many kids, Halloween time is nothing but a big sugar rush. But for children with diabetes, the holiday can be very challenging for the entire family.

Fortunately, kids with diabetes can enjoy the holiday just as much as others, say providers with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center, a partnership of the University of Louisville and Norton Children’s Hospital.

It just requires a different approach: Parents should plan ahead to work the candy into their child’s diabetes meal plan or ensure they get enough insulin to cover the carbohydrates in the candy.

The Wendy Novak Diabetes Center provides families the following tips on how to enjoy the holiday:

Plan ahead

Sit down with your child in advance to discuss specific Halloween plans so they know what to expect. Involving your child with these plans will more likely increase the chances of them being on board.

Know your candy

Educate yourself and your child about how certain types of candy can impact their bodies. Some candy like Skittles or Starburst can be used to treat a low blood sugar, but chocolate and other high-fat treats don’t work as well. This also can be used as an opportunity to teach them how to cover carbohydrates with insulin.

Limit pieces of candy per day

Teaching your children moderation is important. Set a rule on how many pieces of candy your child can have in a day, as long as their blood glucose levels aren’t too high. Stick to this plan and apply it to everyone in the house, not just to your child with diabetes.

Divide the candy properly

Divide treats into servings of 15 grams of carbohydrates and bag them individually. This will help keep your child from eating too much at one time.

Prepare activities that don’t involve food

Take the focus off candy. Encourage arts and crafts like pumpkin carving, watching Halloween movies, going on a hayride, or visiting a haunted house. 

Select a favorite, trash the rest

Eating all of the candy from trick-or-treating can give a definite sugar high. Pick a treat they can enjoy  throughout the week and get rid of or donate the rest. 

‘Make a Trade’ Game:

Let your kids trade pieces of candy for something non-food related, such as a movie ticket, trip to the zoo, new toy, family outing, money, chores, a gift card, etc. This can help redefine the word treat.

For more information, including making appointments with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center, call 502-588-3400 during business hours and 502-629-6000 after hours and on weekends.

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Whitney Cessna, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N.

Whitney Cessna, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N, is a diabetes educator at UofL Physicians-Pediatric Endocrinology.

All posts by Whitney Cessna, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N.
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