Halloween and diabetes, those two words just seem to clash, don’t they?
Quite frankly, no, there is no reason why you can’t find a way to help your little ones enjoy Halloween in spite of being diabetic.
I get it.
You are worried they will eat too much candy when Mom or Dad isn’t looking.
We want to keep them as healthy as possible and every day you do such a great job.
It really won’t hurt them to allow them a little bit of freedom during this fun time of year.
So let’s discuss a few things we can do to make Halloween a little bit safer but still just as much fun for your little ones.
As the caregiver of a diabetic, you are already accustomed to planning ahead.
It’s what you do every day and you have become good at it, or if your new you will very quickly become an expert planner.
You plan your child’s meals to keep their daily carb count within the recommended guidelines.
Is it always perfect, of course not. Don’t sweat it, you are human after all.
Be vigilant in the days before the Halloween fun begins.
You know there will likely be a school party as well as the always fun Trick’or’Treating.
Plan lower carb meals that day to compensate for the few indulgences.
Discuss with your child how much treats they can have and when. Stress the importance of not sneaking candy you are not aware of.
Of course, if they do sneak more than they are allowed it will show up in their numbers and you can give a correction.
You are so on the game every day that it really will be ok if they indulge a little on this fun day.
So you know there will be a school party so plan the meals that day to allow for a few treats.
You can also make some Halloween treats that are not high in sugar or carbs.
A bowl of peeled frozen grapes makes great eyeballs.
Maybe get involved and work with the teacher to plan some Halloween fun that doesn’t involve food
It may be helpful to check their sugars a little more frequently and give a bolus if needed.
We are watching so diligently all the time that this one day of indulgence won’t be that big a deal if they are running a little high. Just watch that they don’t overdo it.
Host a party at home
This year with many towns and cities forgoing Trick’or’Treating because of COVID, hosting a home party is a great idea. I would stick within the guidelines of the area you live in and enjoy having a few friends over.
When you host the neighbourhood Halloween party, you control the food that is available.
You can serve perfectly fun, spooky, and safe Halloween food with low or no sugar added.
- sugar-free jello jigglers cuts into pumpkin or ghost shapes
- veggie and dip tray arranged as a skeleton
- frozen peeled grapes (as eyeballs, use food colouring to draw spookier looking eyeballs)
- apples at the apple bobbing station
- popcorn with plastic spiders and fake web decorating the bowl
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- string cheese sticks (made spooky by adding olives for eyes using cream cheese for glue)
- guacamole spilling out of a hollowed pumpkin
- mini-hot dogs wrapped in pastry bandages
- fresh fruit cut and arranged in some clever spooky design
- deviled eggs (use food colouring to make them more fun)
I like to use sugar substitutes in my favourite recipes.
There really are countless options to ensure everyone enjoys all the fun food at a Halloween party without the risk of a sugar spike.
Lowering the risk of sugar spikes means Mom’s and kids can truly enjoy themselves.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
The teal pumpkin project is a fabulous idea that not only makes Halloween more fun for diabetic kids but also kids with life-threatening food allergies or other diseases like Celiac’s disease.
Through the website, you can get a garden or door sign to advertise to let your neighbours know that you have safe, non-food treats to hand out.
Simply paint a pumpkin teal and place it on your front step and pass out non-food treats.
So what can you offer kids for treats that aren’t food?
There are so many options and the best place I have found is the local Dollar Store to pick up some:
- little decks of cards
- small toys
- hair accessories
- small bouncy balls
- small puzzles
As you can see you can easily find non-food, inexpensive treats to pass out.
Yes, you can still pass out candy as well.
You could ask the accompanying parent if candy is ok or would they prefer a non-candy treat.
pass out candy and a non-candy treat to each child and the parents decide at home whether the child eats the candy.
Personally, I love the Teal Pumpkin Project and fully support it.
Naturally, all kids want to go trick-or-treating. That is the fun of Halloween.
There is no need to prevent diabetic or food allergy kids from dressing up and having fun like everyone else.
It just takes a bit of pre-planning.
- Ensure they follow their regular meal and snack plan throughout the day.
- Select costumes that allow for easy blood sugar testing (if wearing a CGM make sure it is accessible to scan)
- Agree ahead of time to eat candy once they get home
- Test sugars frequently because all that running and walking house to house can cause a low to occur rapidly. Be prepared to treat a low by having sugar tabs or your usual method of treating a low with you (you don’t want to waste time trying to calculate how many treats is 15 g of carbs)
- Once home select one or two favourite pieces of candy to eat that night. Remember to dose insulin for the increased carbs.
- Keep the candy in the kitchen or living room NOT in the child’s bedroom
By following these few suggestions I am sure your diabetic child can fully enjoy their Halloween without feeling left out or different.
What to do with all that candy
Now that the kids have been out having fun all evening and you have returned safely home it is time to sort all that candy and figure out what to do with it.
The possibilities here are endless.
Why not begin by sorting out and calculating the carbs for each type of candy.
I came across this handy chart that offers carb counts for popular Halloween candy that may make this a little easier.
Once we know the carb counts of the various types of candy we like to make up little bags to use for treating lows. Each bag contains approx 15 g of carbs which is great to treat a low, the child eats one little bag of candy.
They still get their candy but it is spread out.
Another idea is to select a few favourite items and offer them for dessert after a meal. Of course, the carb count is added to their meal for insulin dosing.
One family has introduced ‘The Halloween Fairy’. What happens here is a few selected favourite treats are kept for treats after meals and a few bags are made up for treating lows. The rest of the candy is laid out for the Halloween Fairy who will trade the candy for a desired toy or tickets to a movie at the theatre.
Whatever you decide to do be sure to discuss it with your child prior to Halloween and ensure it applies to all of your children, not just the diabetic child.
As you can see Halloween and diabetes do not have to be scary.
There are many ways to embrace and celebrate Halloween that is fun and safe for diabetics and kids with food allergies.
Hosting a Halloween party is a fun way to celebrate and in these times of social distancing, a small party may be the perfect solution as many communities are not allowing Trick-or-Treating this year.
If you are allowed to head out Trick-or-Treating, ensure your child follows their regular meal and snack schedule prior to heading out.
Check blood sugars frequently. Walking and running may cause blood sugars to drop so be prepared to treat a low.
I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences.
Ensure their costume allows for easy testing.
Consider the teal pumpkin project as a viable option for your neighbourhood.
Discuss what you will do with the candy afterward so everyone is in agreement.
How do you celebrate Halloween?
What do you do with the candy afterward?
Have a safe and fun Halloween and remember to leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
6 thoughts on “Halloween and Diabetes”
A great way to help all children feel included at Halloween. In this day and age there’s also the benefit or sugar-free sweets, although it’s obviously harder to control that when it’s candy and sweets received from other houses. I do love the “Halloween Fairy” idea, and this could possibly be an option for trading out some normal sweets for sugar-free.
Do you prefer to hand out sugar-free/alternative treats as a means of creating awareness, or do you find it makes no real difference?
Personally, we pass out both candy and non-food treats as I indicated in the article. We do support the Teal Pumpkin project so our signage and teal pumpkin alerts our neighbors that non-food treats are available here.
Yes, I do make sugar free baked goods at home for family gatherings and any events our grandson may be attending. Ensuring is blood sugar level stays as close to within target range as possible is our top priority. When it comes to the candy we use the regular kind because we can use them to treat lows when they occur and they do, frequently especially now that he is in school. Thanks for dropping by. Take care.
In the past few years, I have passed the candy out of our home. I set a table up in my garage and spread the candy out so the trick or treaters can choose for themselves.
I do hide the Reese’s peanut butter cups though, I believe that Reese’s peanut butter cups are better for me than the kids!(per your handy chart)
Thank you for sharing the handy chart that offers carb counts for popular Halloween candy.
I have downloaded it and I will share it with friends and family.
I love passing out the candy and in our area, I will this year as well but I will be wearing a mask and gloves to do so. I was excited when I found that chart because it means it will take less time for my daughter to make the calculations for our grandson to have his treats. I will make a few bags to keep here for treating lows when he is here. I will also be handing out some non-food treats as I support the Teal Pumpkin Project. Happy Halloween to you and your family.
A great discussion of Halloween for kids with diabetes.
I find some of these suggestions applicable to me too, as an adult without kids, but I am eating a strict no-sugar diet now. (And no other sweeteners either, so it’s not exactly the same).
I am glad you are providing this information. Parents need to know how to manage their kids’ health, especially when they are too young to know how to make these choices themselves, or there is a serious condition such as what you write about, diabetes.
Thanks for commenting Bryce. While I personally am not diabetic (we have a diabetic grandchild) I too limit my carbs and sugar intake. I find it much harder to maintain a trim waistline as I age so watching what I eat and daily exercise is important. I know my daughter has been stressing about Halloween and how to manage this fun-filled, high-sugar day. We both support the Teal Pumpkin Project and will be passing out both candy and non-food treats this year. You are correct in stating it is important for parents to manage their children’s health and teach them about healthy food choices regardless of whether they are diabetic or not.