Friday, October 30, 2009

On How *Not* to Be a Diabetes Halloweenie.

Tomorrow is Halloween, and of course, I can't let this slip by without blogging. I'm sure the masses still think that Halloween (along with Easter) is a diabetic's biggest enemy. All that candy! All those sugary treats! What will our children do? Can they never enjoy Halloween again?

How often can I say it? I really love Halloween. This year I won't be dressing up as anything, and I have no parties to attend. My mom is coming to visit, and I'm actually quite excited about that. Matt and I are considering taking her on a haunted hayride, possibly a ghost tour in Philadelphia.

But really now, let's pause to look at Halloween for a moment, as people with diabetes. (Or people who help people with diabetes.) A simple Google search for "diabetic kids Halloween" or something similar turns up piles and piles of results, including a story that just appeared in USA Today. Oh, Halloween, if nothing else you seem to serve as a reminder to media outlets that kids are actually sick with Type 1 diabetes. The article is actually forward-thinking enough to have commentary from, which tells the world that sweets are not the no-no for kids with diabetes anymore. They are simply like any other indulgent food--something to be planned for ahead of time.

Someone from the Mayo Clinic then opens their big mouth in the article, saying how candy is forbidden for pediatric diabetes patients at Halloween. Parents should seek out alternatives. Hey, I like alternatives--I loved getting Halloween toys and pencils and apples as a kid on my neighborhood trick-or-treating excursions. But hey--fruit also has carbs. You know, like a fun-sized Snickers. Also, realistically speaking? I don't think any child should be eating all of their Halloween candy on Halloween. Not only is that unhealthy, resulting in tummyaches and wiley sugar-high behaviors, but I think it teaches our kids to be greedy. I think I'm digressing. I apologize.

When it comes to Halloween, you do not want your children doing what I did in my middle school years. After years of candy deprivation, I went crazy. Sure, I made a little money by "selling" my parents and grandparents the candy that they were interested in, but there were plenty of goodies that were unappetizing to them. I told everyone I was giving them to my friends at school. Instead, I kept the candy hidden under my bed, covertly eating it at night while doing my homework or noshing when I returned home from school to an empty house. Hell hath no fury like a tween five years deprived of real candy.

I've seen some parents who take all of their children's candy and save it for episodes of low blood sugar. In my opinion, that's kind of an awful idea. I don't think the practice of unintentionally teaching your kids that having lows = getting treats is a good one. It seems too easy for an older kid who checks their own blood sugar to wander into the kitchen, say, "I'm low!" and be a glutton over the candy dish. Call me old-fashioned, but I was raised to treat my lows with juice or glucose tabs, unless none were available.

I really like the stance that Children with Diabetes takes on helping your kids have a normal Halloween with diabetes. They advise their readers, "[The common misconception is that] kids with diabetes shouldn't enjoy the treats -- they should. The issue is integrating the treats into the child's meal plan so as to minimize the disruption in blood glucose control. With fast acting insulins like NovoLog and Humalog, more and more families simply integrate candy into their child's meal plan." So basically, find out what your kids' favorites are. Ask them what they consider to be bolus-worthy. The CWD article is really helpful, as it has carb-count information for a number of different varieties of candy. Yay!

Many of us have learned how to manage our diabetes from a young age. I am so with Kerri, that as people with diabetes, we all need to learn how to manage our guilt, too. So let's start young with learning that the occasional treat is not the straw that breaks the camel's back. Let's all teach our kids that treats are good once in a while, but must come along with insulin, and testing to make sure everything is okay. Sure, we're diabetics. But that doesn't mean we need to suffer and deprive ourselves at every single turn. We're also humans with cravings for sweets.

And cravings for brains.

Oh wait, that's zombies.

Happy Halloween to all. If you need me, I will be bolusing for these fabulous 15g of carbs I am about to ingest. Bless you, mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.


  1. My non-candy Hallowe'en practice has less to do with diabetes (I don't know of any kids with diabetes in our neighborhood) and more to do with both Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and the candy-tampering scares of the 1980's (and the growing public belief that NOBODY should ever eat ANY candy, EVER)...

    Then again, I remember that at least half our trick-or-treat candy was stale stuff left over from adults' candy dishes (when I was little, every home without kids would have one of these on the coffee table for drop-in guests). The good stuff, we went through quickly. The rest... got even staler.

  2. I recall my parents picking and choosing what I gathered, giving me some money, stashing a lot for meals (oh the exchange days, I do Not miss you) and a whole lot of, "Lows are ok because I can have sweets." I agree whole heartedly with your post. Well written. Well said.

    Would you mind sharing a mini Reese's? Love those!! I'll test and bolus accordingly. ;-) Happy Halloween! Enjoy time with your mom and on the haunted hay ride (those are so fun!).

  3. I won't open the bags until tomorrow afternoon, but I'm totally looking forward to eating lots of candy! I cut the nutrition info out and stick them in the bowl after the last of the trick or treaters so it's easy to carb count as I eat the leftovers.

    Whoever said candy is forbidden from the Mayo Clinic needs to stop reading their 1958 diabetes textbook. That's just ridiculous!

  4. Hello! This is 2009 get it together Mayo Clinic. We (diabetic's) can enjoy candy lol bolus and moderation. like you said "who would actually give their kid a while bag of candy to eat?" my dtr isn't a diabetic and I would let her eat a whole bag of candy.
    I just finished eating my 15 grams of I LoVE REESE's peanut butter cups:)


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