Living with diabetes blog

Halloween: Tips for treats if you have diabetes

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. October 26, 2012

Halloween is celebrated by wearing costumes, going trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, visiting haunted houses and attending parties. It's also one of the biggest days of candy consumption in the United States. For many children, Halloween is all about "hauling in the sweets." Americans purchase 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween and eat 1.2 pounds (0.5 kilograms) on the actual date.

I didn't remember how much candy means to children until I was recently reminded by my 8-year-old granddaughter. She mentioned that she was looking forward to the high school homecoming parade which goes by her house. She doesn't know anyone attending the high school, so I asked her why she wanted to see the parade — for the candy thrown out on the parade route, of course!

I don't think we can take candy out of the Halloween celebration equation. But as parents, grandparents, and health-conscious individuals, we may be able to provide some moderation and healthier alternatives.

I remember trying to use some psychology with my own son when it came to treats at home. If he wanted a treat, I would ask him to choose between an orange and an apple instead of the less healthy snack he wanted. Initially, he'd make a choice between the apple and the orange. But, eventually he caught on, so it only worked for a limited time.

For times when that trick doesn't work, here are some tips from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation:

  • A little candy on Halloween is OK. Have the child pick out a few pieces and eat them at supervised times. Keep an inventory, and be the keeper of the candy stash.
  • Trade candy for cash.
  • Refocus the celebration. Host a Halloween party and focus on fun, not food.
  • Try alternative treats at home, such as popcorn, sugar-free candy, low-carb candy or something you've made yourself (that way you know what's in it). Offer things like glow-in-the-dark insects and theme stickers for trick-or-treaters.
  • Count carbs with your child, and apply the appropriate insulin-to-carb ratio, which can also be a good learning experience.

What ideas do you have or have you used to help make Halloween healthier but still fun for children?

Have a spooktacular Halloween!


Oct. 26, 2012