Something wicked this way comes! And its name is Halloween. As much as I enjoy the costumes and the candlelit parties, this holiday constitutes a true nightmare for those of us whose health is severely — and immediately — impacted by consuming sugary treats. For parents of diabetic kids, it’s especially rough, since you can’t deny them everything. How to achieve moderation without making your T1 children miserable? I have no idea. So I turned to someone who does. Today, please welcome D-mom blogger extraordinaire Leighann Calentine, sharing her “best practices” for Halloween.
A Guest Post by Leighann Calentine of D-Mom Blog
Halloween is one of our family’s favorite holidays. We begin scoping out the decorations the minute they appear on store shelves. We go to multiple pumpkin patches to buy pumpkins and gourds large and small. We go to several parties at both kids’ schools and at a friend’s barn. We trick-or-treat in our neighborhood and even at a nearby zoo. We sometimes even have more than one costume per person!
But just like every other reason to celebrate, food is entrenched in Halloween. You can’t escape it. And like many other holidays the treats are sugary and high carb.
My husband and I made a decision when we first began our family that we would not let our kids consume mass quantities of candies and other sweets, nor would juice be free flowing in our house. So when our daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few months before her fourth birthday, we were lucky that we didn’t need to make too many changes when it came to the foods we served her.
The best advice we were given in the hospital was the importance of letting kids be kids. This is true of birthday celebrations, class parties, and especially holidays like Halloween.
So what’s our trick to dealing with these treats?
Don’t make the treats the focus.
You CAN Take It With You
At one of our yearly parties, the tradition is for kids to decorate large cupcakes with mounds of frosting and sugar sprinkles. When our daughter
was on multiple daily injections, we didn’t want her eating this right before her bedtime BG check and didn’t want yet another injection.
We let her partake in the fun decorating to her heart’s content and then we popped it in a container we had brought with us for her to consume the next day at mealtime.
Now that she’s on an insulin pump, she can go ahead and eat and we don’t have to worry about that extra injection.
The point is that the fun is often in the process. Decorating the cupcake is the fun activity and once she was finished with it, she ran off to the next station and activity.
Maybe your school has a full-time nurse or maybe it doesn’t. But the fact remains that your child’s class will probably have a party and there will probably be sweets. You can volunteer in two ways that will help your child participate fully in the celebration.
First, volunteer to coordinate the menu or at least to bring some of the food. This year I am the class chair and I made the sign up sheet: carrots, grapes, cheese, drinks, and mini cupcakes. And I signed up to make the cupcakes! By making the sweet myself, I will know the exact number of carbs so there will be no guessing game.
Second, volunteer to help in the classroom with the party. When I am at the parties I can watch how much my daughter eats and give her an appropriate bolus. Even if there is a school nurse, as the child’s parent you can probably estimate the carbs and give the bolus a little more unobtrusively than a nurse could.
You Get What You Give
Long before the diagnosis, we began handing out small containers of Play-Doh and various trinkets such as pencils, spider rings, bouncy balls, and plastic skeletons to Trick-or-Treaters. Kids love these goodies. Setting an example that treats don’t have to be candy might catch on with the neighbors.
And the best part is that if there are leftovers, you can stash them away for the next year.
Yes, She CAN Eat That
Don’t tell your child with diabetes that he or she can’t eat the mound of candy that she collected on All Hollow’s Eve. Decide on the number of pieces she can eat each day and let her have it with a meal as dessert so that she doesn’t need an extra injection. And have the same rules for all of your family members. If everyone is limited, then your diabetic child won’t feel like she is being singled out.
We often forget about candy stashes after holidays and find them months later when we go to put the next stash in a high cabinet. After a week, take the extra into work to share.
Don’t Forget the Hypos
Last Halloween my daughter went low while we were out haunting the neighborhood. She asked if she could have a piece of candy and I figured why not.
When I read labels and realized that both Smarties and glucose tabs have the same first ingredient dextrose, I decided to buy Smarties instead. They are cheaper and a lot more fun!
Now I go through the kids’ candy stash and pull out items that are good for treating lows such as Smarties and Skittles. Some doctors do not recommend chocolate for treating hypoglycemia because the fat content makes it slower to absorb.
Further reading on Leighann’s blog:
You can also follow Leighann on twitter at @DMomBlog
Thank you for bringing the Reasonable to the party, Leighann!