It’s that tricky-treaty time of year again! Halloween is full of sweet, sugary treats, which, if you or your child is living with diabetes, can make it tricky. I’ve put together some strategies to help both children and adults avoid candy bowl overload while still maximizing the spooky fun.
1. Use this as a teachable moment. Before Halloween, discuss with your kids how to handle the candy onslaught. Ask what limits they think they should put on sweets. Talk about how healthy eating helps them grow, focus at school, perform better in athletic activities, and manage blood sugar. Look at the differences between the regular-sized candies, fun-size, and minis. Together decide how much candy they will have and under what conditions: is it a couple of pieces in the school lunchbox or a snack after dinner with a glass of milk? Use the candy to reinforce carb counting too. I strongly discourage those I speak with from banishing candy altogether or putting severe limits on it. My observations tell me that this usually backfires: it doesn’t teach children to moderate their intake, and it makes them focus instead on what they can’t have.
2. Eat right. Eat before the festivities! Both adults and children may benefit from a good meal before heading out trick or treating or to a party. Even if it seems too early for dinner, grab a hearty snack, such as a small bowl of soup, so the candy doesn’t become your dinner. This is part of that teachable moment, too: there’s room for a small amount of sweet treats in most meal plans.
3. Get into the spirit. Instead of making candy or food the focus of your festivities, wear a goofy costume, add spooky home decorations, play Halloween-inspired games, or carve a pumpkin and roast its seeds – in other words, have fun that doesn’t involve sweet stuff. One way to do this is to dress up some healthful foods in Halloween outfits. A few of my favorites (always read the labels to fit these or any foods into your meal plan):
- Jack-o’-lantern pizzas: Spread pasta sauce on a toasted English muffin, sprinkle with reduced-fat cheese and make jack-o’-lantern faces with olives and bell peppers.
- Witchy fingers: Fill clear plastic gloves with plain popped popcorn. Tie the end with black or orange ribbon.
- Toothy smiles: Cut a cored apple into quarters. Then cut a wedge at the skin-side so what’s left looks like an open mouth. Make teeth with slivered almonds.
4. Plan to enjoy just your favorites. Whether you’re an adult trying to dodge the candy bowl at work or a child with an overwhelming array of treats in your plastic pumpkin, a candy-eating plan may help. Know what your favorites are and decide how you’ll most enjoy them. And I recommend not leaving a big bowl of temptation on the counter, where it whispers your name all day. Before digging in, think about which candy really stands apart for you.
Approximate Carbohydrate and Calorie Counts
|Miniature chocolate||1 piece||5 grams||35-45|
|Chocolate w/ crisped rice||1 fun-size||7 grams||50|
|Plain chocolate||1 fun-size||9 grams||70|
|Chocolate w/ peanuts||1 fun-size||9 grams||90|
| Peanut butter
|1 fun-size||13 grams||100|
|1 snack-size||14 grams||60|
|Lollipop w/ bubblegum center||1 lollipop||17 grams||60|
|Candy corn||10 pieces||19 grams||75|
5. Limit opportunities for gorging on leftovers. There is no Halloween rule requiring you to hand out candy! Consider popcorn, dimes, glow sticks, yo-yos, and other trinkets. My trick to remove temptation is to buy candy I don’t like so much. Make it easier on your kids by offering to buy their Halloween loot. Let them trade most of their candy for a toy or a night out at the movie theater or bowling alley. You may want to consider taking care of all those leftovers by sharing with those in need, such as local shelter or food bank. Another great idea is to send your treats to the troops overseas via Operation Shoebox.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE*, is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition, and has written for many publications including EatingWell, Diabetic Living, Her Sports + Fitness, and LifeScript. Weisenberger is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience