JDRF Halloween Article
By Rebecca Roberts
Halloween is a beloved holiday for both children and adults alike. From trick-or-treating and elaborate costumes to pumpkins and crisp fall weather, the holiday makes for fun and exciting memories. For the families of children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Halloween, however, can often times be an extremely stressful time because of its large focus on candy consumption. With the right planning and a little creativity, there are many simple modifications that can be made in order to avoid dangerous blood sugar spikes in children with T1D.
According to Robin Holbrook, mother of Emma who suffers from Type 1 and son Lucas who does not, it is important to treat all children in a family, diabetic or not, the same. By keeping Halloween routines consistent between children, no one ends up feeling left out. “I have always wanted Emma to participate like the other kids. We just do a few tweaks here and there,” reports Holbrook. Two easy adjustments she makes include encouraging chocolate over some of the more sugary candies such as lollipops and not allowing Emma or Lucas to eat any candy until they return home where she can better monitor how much sugar Emma is consuming.
Another parent Tammy Prairie, mother of Reagan who was diagnosed with T1D just over 4 years ago, explains how she manages some of the difficulties that come along with school Halloween parties. “It is very important to have good communication with the school nurse, Reagan’s teachers, and the Homeroom Mom. My husband or I usually like to attend these types of parties as it is just easier for us to tell Reagan what she can or can’t have (she is used to us telling her “No”). Since the snacks at these parties usually include plenty of sweets and carbs we limit Regan to one sweet (a cookie or cupcake), fruit, or carb snack,” says Tammy.
In all, it is important to remember that diabetic children are still children and that allowing them to participate in Halloween activities is still possible! Below are some additional tips provided by the Joslin Diabetes Center that will help ensure a safe and fun Halloween for everyone:
- Plan ahead and discuss your ideas with your child so that they will know what to expect. Involving your child in the planning process will make it much more likely that they will be on board with the plan.
- Take the focus off of candy consumption by preparing Halloween activities that do not revolve around sweets for your child with diabetes. This could include playing Halloween games, working on arts and crafts projects, or making a special Halloween snack together.
- Work out an exchange program where children can trade in their candy for other special items or a fun family outing.