Spooky decorations, scary movies, pumpkin carving, cool costumes — and loads of candy. As October 31st nears, your children are likely getting excited about many aspects of Halloween, and those sugary treats are probably at the top of their list. But if you're a parent to a diabetic child, the candy part of the Halloween equation can cause a significant amount of stress. It's true that children who have diabetes need to be extra careful about managing their sugar and carbohydrate intake not just on Halloween, but year-round. So, what's the best way to handle the onslaught of sweets without taking the fun out of it?
From school parties and community events to after-school activities like trick-or-treating, here are seven tips to keep in mind — so the whole family can celebrate this festive holiday.
1. Come up with a game plan. Whether you're implementing a new bedtime routine or a rule about eating candy on Halloween, talking with your child ahead of time about what's going to happen is a great way to ensure there are no surprises. Involve the whole family in your conversation and make sure everyone is on the same page. For example, you might decide that it's best for your children to wait until they get home from trick-or-treating to eat their candy. Communicate that rule in the weeks leading up to Halloween and remind them why it's a good idea to follow.
2. Give your child a choice.
Before you come up with your Halloween game plan, talk to your child about what their expectations are. You can give them a choice between trading in their candy for cash, a new toy or a fun experience, or keeping their favorite candy. If they want to keep their candy, you can help them decide how much they can have and how often. Allowing your child to have a say in the matter makes setting healthy boundaries a lot easier for everyone.
As a parent, you also have choices to make. You can decide to host a Halloween party at home if you want to keep a close eye on your child's candy intake. You can also hand out non-candy Halloween favors or serve diabetic-friendly Halloween treats.
3. Don't restrict all candy. Attempting to enforce a blanket "no candy" rule on Halloween is likely a losing battle. Plus, telling your child that candy is off-limits will make it that much more desirable. Instead of restricting it entirely, let your child know that they can absolutely enjoy candy as part of their Halloween celebration — just not all of it, and not all at once. It's also a good idea to emphasize other exciting parts of the holiday, like carving pumpkins, choosing a costume, watching Halloween-themed movies and setting up decorations, to help them focus less on the treats.
4. Encourage moderation.
While diabetic children must watch their sugar and carb intake more than other kids, moderation is important for everyone. You can encourage your children, diabetic or not, to enjoy a few of their favorite Halloween treats, but also remind them that overloading on sugar isn't healthy for anyone.
Wondering what to do with all that extra candy? Set aside non-chocolate sweets to help treat low blood glucose.
5. Get familiar with Halloween candy for diabetes. As you decide how much candy your child can have on Halloween, keep in mind the nutritional value of the most popular Halloween treats. That way, you can be sure to properly manage their blood sugar and help avoid high blood glucose.
6. Ensure you have glucagon on hand. On Halloween especially, managing your child's carbohydrate intake and avoiding extreme lows or highs will be top of mind. One way to feel more prepared is to ensure your child has glucagon on hand at school or while they trick-or-treat. Gvoke HypoPen® (glucagon injection) is a two-step, premixed autoinjector for very low blood sugar in adults and kids with diabetes ages 2 and above. Ask your doctor if Gvoke® is right for you.
7. Talk to your doctor or school nurse if you're concerned. Communication is key when you're managing diabetes. If your child is attending a Halloween party at school, speak to their teacher or the school nurse in advance — that way, you'll be in-the-know about what treats are being served and how your child can participate. You should always feel comfortable reaching out to your child's doctor as well to discuss any concerns about helping your child enjoy Halloween safely.
There's a lot you can't control about October 31st — costume snafus, for example, or how much candy your neighbors hand out. But if you prepare in advance, come up with a game plan and encourage your child to participate in a safe and healthy way, they can enjoy Halloween regardless of their diabetes diagnosis. Trick or treat!