Nutrition Express

Got a Kid with Diabetes? Don’t Be Spooked this Halloween

Got a Kid with Diabetes? Don’t Be Spooked this Halloween: Main Image
Because you aren’t going all out on the food, put those resources toward some killer decorations
Halloween should be filled with delightful fright—but it doesn’t need to be scary for parents of children with type 1 diabetes. With some creepy creativity and planning, you can host a hopping Halloween party for your kids, while avoiding the pitfalls of too much sugar.

Shift the focus from food

There’s no hard and fast rule that Halloween treats have to be edible. About a month before Halloween, start buying little treats to share with kids at the party, such as pencils, erasers, Halloween-themed temporary tattoos and stickers. Start early: if you don’t find what you’re looking for locally, you can let your fingers do the walking—on your computer keyboard—and purchase small items online.

And because you aren’t going all out on the food, put those resources toward some killer decorations. Your kids will love helping you put them up!

Go with the tried and true

It may seem quaint to do “old school” Halloween activities, but kids still love bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, and painting faces. Enlisting your kids to help can make the prep as fun as the party.

Kid-safe face paint

  • 3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons vegetables shortening
  • Food coloring (add drop by drop to the mixture, until you reach the desired color)

Also, try a spooky treasure hunt, hiding items like little plastic spider rings throughout the house for guests to find.

Make a meal of it

Instead of just offering the sugary dessert items, have a small meal or mix of savory snacks. Kid-favorite fare such as sloppy joes or burgers, cole slaw, and peanut butter granola chewies are always popular. Or you might go the harvest route focusing on pumpkin, pear, apple, or other fall flavors. If you’re serving punch, prepour or have an adult pour it for the children to keep serving sizes appropriate (make a mix of one-half apple cider or cranberry and one-half sparkling water to lower the sugar content).

For dessert, keep your eyes open for sugar-free Halloween-themed baked goods or candies from your grocer and choose one or two as a big treat. Or use Halloween-themed cookie cutters to make wiggly, jiggly treats from orange, sugar-free gelatin. Consider leaving the gelatin in several large, shallow baking pans, and let the kids cut out their own Halloween gelatin shapes to enjoy. You can also serve apple wedges sprinkled with cinnamon (if you prepare these in advance give them a squeeze of lemon too to keep them from turning brown).

Plan for after trick-or-treating

Make a plan. More and more parents are giving out nonfood items such as stickers and “googly eye” rubber balls to acknowledge that childhood obesity is a serious problem, and that most kids can do without the extra sugar and calories typically associated with Halloween. However, you should plan for what to do with the candy that your child with diabetes inevitably will collect.

Use candy wisely. You can save a few small packets of sugar-based items such as candy corn and jelly beans. Keep these on hand for when you’re going to give sugar anyway, such as when you’re correcting your child’s blood sugar lows. Also account for any extra activity walking house-to-house, which may lower your child’s blood sugar.

Teach your child the joys of sharing. Call your local hospital to see if they have a program for sharing candy with children who can’t trick-or-treat themselves. The hospital should have guidelines in place to ensure that only small amounts of candy are shared with any one child, and that candy is only given to those children for whom it is safe to eat.

Take cues from other traditions. Use the Tooth Fairy concept to deal with leftover candy: let your child choose a few treats from the candy bowl—to be eaten only after meals (they affect blood glucose levels less that way). Put the rest of the candy in a special place where the “Halloween Fairy”—who travels the world protecting kids’ teeth and health—can find it. Then when your child is sleeping, get rid of the candy all at once, and replace it with a small gift or toy.

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

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