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What Parents Need to Know about Managing a Child’s Diabetes around Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Megan Watts is a pediatric diabetes dietitian with the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National. She shares a few tips for how families and children with diabetes can enjoy trick-or-treating and Halloween.

Holidays can pose complications for all families who want to maintain a healthy diet, but especially for families and children with diabetes. Some of these families may need a little extra planning to ensure their children with diabetes can enjoy treats during the holidays.

We want all children to be able to enjoy the treats but it’s best for parents to keep the traditions of the holiday, as the main focus, rather than letting candy or other sweets take center stage.

Halloween Night

Some tips to help you plan ahead for trick-or-treating with your children with diabetes:

  • Don’t skip a meal just to prepare for the extra treats
  • Bring all diabetes supplies with you (or if you have an older child who self-manages, make sure they carry them)
  • Check blood sugars more often

With diabetes you have to balance out the medications your child takes, with the food that he or she is eating, but you also need to think about exercise. One thing that families don’t realize is that on Halloween night, we frequently see low blood sugars from all the running around and physical activity.

Prepare for the weeks ahead

One of the trickier parts of Halloween is preparing for candy management after Halloween.  If you have bowls of Halloween candy sitting on the counter or in the pantry, making the healthy choice becomes harder for children to make.

Some tips for candy management after trick-or-treating include:

  • Set expectations about how much candy children can eat that night; moderation is key
  • Figure out how you’re going to count the carbohydrates and fit it into your child’s diabetes plan
  • Decide how you’re going to manage all the leftover candy in upcoming lunches or dinners
  • Choose to donate your candy or exchange them for something like watching a favorite show

Kids actually tend to appreciate non-candy items along with their sweet treats.  Consider passing out spider rings, eyeball bouncy balls, mini play-doh containers, temporary tattoos or stickers.  These items can also be used for the candy exchange system. 

One of the most important things for families managing diabetes to remember is that letting the candy linger and stare at you for months can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Focus on the other fun parts of Halloween such as pumpkin-carving, dressing up in costumes, telling scary stories, visiting haunted houses or pumpkin patches. There are many other fun activities around Halloween that you and your family can do to celebrate that don’t revolve around candy.

Diabetes doesn’t have to hold your children back from doing the things that they want to do on Halloween. Parents just need to shift the focus and plan ahead to make sure their children have a healthy and safe Halloween. 


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