Halloween: Tricks for Handling Treats
Sweets and Halloween go together, like milk and cookies. But this old tradition can be quite a challenge for families living with diabetes. Here are some tips and tricks for handling the sweet treats that your brood gathers up in their costumed trip to neighbors, school or a community party. With the exception of comments about carb counts and blood sugar monitoring, these same techniques are also workable for the kids in the family who do not have diabetes.
- Sweets can be a healthy part of anyone's overall diet. They are things everyone can enjoy in modest amounts. No guilt necessary.
- The biggest challenge regarding sweets is that eating them can displace more healthful foods from the diet. This is true at all ages, but is a special concern for younger kids. Little ones have relatively high nutritional needs (for growth) but relatively low total energy intake. So while eating sweets is entirely fine, it's up to the adults in the house to make sure that sweets complement, not displace, more nutritionally valuable foods. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, for example:
- Keep the portions of sweets offered appropriate for the child's age, size and appetite. You wouldn't give a three-year old a full size steak. Don't offer a full size piece of cake either - OR, all the Halloween candy at once.
- Include sweets into meal and snack plans and set out the amount to be offered at the beginning along with other foods. Don't make getting the sweets contingent on eating all of the "healthier" foods." This just convinces kids that sweets are the most important and desirable foods.
- Decide ahead of time how to handle the booty from Halloween. Will each child keep his or her own items or will you pool all the candy in a "family" stash? Whatever your decision, choose a method that you are comfortable with for ALL siblings. This will cut down on arguments and help prevent the child with diabetes from being "singled out."
- Set a consistent method for the youngsters to enjoy the candy without ruining appetites. For example, maybe each child gets to choose one or two items to put in the lunch bag, one item to have with the afternoon snack and one item to have with supper every day until it's all gone. Gear the size of the "piece" or "choice" to the child's age. For the littlest kids, something with 5 grams of carb is probably plenty of "dessert" for most meals (one small cookie, for example, or one caramel). For older youngsters in a growth spurt, more generous portions won't ruin their appetite for other things.
- Set expectations for Halloween night too. In most homes, kids enjoy a bit of an "orgy" when they go through their bag of goodies after trick or treating. It can help avoid a war if you set the expectations ahead of time: how many pieces will be eaten tonight, with the rest going into the stash for gradual consumption.
- Print out the list of candy "counts" posted here or use the bags treats come in to get accurate carb counts for the varieties your kids received. You can even make a game of working together to label the candy, using sticky mailing labels and colorful markers. Don't forget to note the carbohydrate value of "sugar free" candies and sweets too. Some of them have as much or even more carbohydrate than the regular sweets they are meant to replace.
- Candy and other treats that contain fat will cause a more blunt glucose rise than fat-free candies/carbohydrates. You also blunt the glucose-raising effect of sweets by having youngsters consume them WITH regular meals and snacks instead of alone
- Check BG an hour or two after eating to see if the count worked. Try to avoid the temptation to "chase" blood sugars with frequent insulin touch-ups. Instead, see what you and your youngster can learn from the experience. If necessary, change the amount eaten or the insulin ratio the following day to take advantage of the experiment.
- If your youngsters seem to "go crazy" over candy, consider whether it's been made into a "forbidden fruit" or "guilty pleasure" by being withheld. Eve probably would have never touched that apple if it hadn't been forbidden. By including small amounts of sweets in age-appropriate portions in meals and snacks on a regular basis, you may substantially improve your children's ability to self-manage these foods.
Nutrition Facts for Top Halloween Treats
|Candy||Serving Size||Calories||Carbohydrate (g)||Fat (g)|
|3 Musketeers, Miniatures||0.21 oz piece||24||8||1|
|3 Musketeers, Fun Size||0.59 oz bar||70||13||2.5|
|Buncha Crunch, Fun Size Bags||0.75 oz bag ||110||14||5.5|
|Butterfinger, Fun Size||0.75 oz bar||100||15||4|
|Candy Corn||26 pieces ||140||35||0|
|Crunch, Fun Size||0.36 oz bar||50||7||4|
|Dots, Mini Boxes||0.75 oz box||80||20||0|
|Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, Snack Size||0.61 oz bar||95||10||5.5|
|Hot Tamales||0.71 oz pkg||75||18||0|
|Jolly Rancher Lollipops||0.61 oz pop||60||16||0|
|Kit Kat, Snack Size||0.54 oz bar||80||10||4|
|M&M's, Peanut, Fun Size||0.75 oz pkg||110||13||5|
|M&M's, Plain, Fun Size||0.75 oz pkg||100||15||4.5|
|M&M's, Mini Box||0.54 oz box||73||10||3.5|
|Milky Way, Miniatures||0.31 oz piece||38||6||1.5|
|Milky Way, Fun Size||0.71 oz bar||90||14||3.5|
|Reese Sticks, Snack Size||0.61 oz piece||90||9||5|
|Skittles||0.71 oz pkg||80||17||<1|
|Smarties||4 rolls (1 oz)||100||25||0|
|Snickers, Miniatures||0.32 oz piece||43||6||2.5|
|Snickers, Fun Size||0.71 oz bar||95||12||5|
|Starburst, Fun Size||0.71 oz (4 pieces)||80||17||2|
|Super Bubble Gum||1 piece||15||4||0|
|Tootsie Roll, Midges||0.71 oz (3 pieces)||80||17||1.5|
|Twizzlers, Snack Size||0.27 oz piece||24||6||0|
22 October 2000
Last Updated: (none)
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