When one considers holidays that involve candy, Halloween automatically springs to mind. What I’ve observed, as a mom acutely aware of candy consumption, is that Halloween is only one of many holidays that we celebrate that includes — or even centers around — consumption of sweets! But most are really not too difficult to take care of.
The most common “holiday” is of course a birthday — not only the child’s own birthday, but friends’ or family members’ too. Your child will be invited to their party, will want cake, and will likely receive some kind of “goody” bag, often including candy! Honestly, birthday cake and ice cream aren’t too challenging for an experienced mom to handle. Because we eat them infrequently, I feel little guilt in letting James indulge in these yummy sweets when they’re offered in a social setting.
Christmas and Valentine’s Day also have a candy/goody component that we have to be careful to steer through with wisdom and moderation. We personally just try to be extra healthy and offer James’s favorite noncandy foods to fill his stomach and offset the effects of sugar consumption. So far, we’ve been able to navigate these holidays without too much trouble.
Where we’ve really struggled — and unquestionably my toughest candy holiday of all — is actually Easter! Similar to our experience with Halloween, Easter wasn’t an issue at first. When it became one, I tried substituting a basket full of candy with a basket full of stuff — devoid entirely of candy! This wasn’t a huge hit. So we fell to our third strategy, permitting the candy binge, like at Halloween, as our diabetes care team okayed.
One year I allowed James to eat as much candy on Easter morning as his little heart desired. This was not however, a similar experience to the one we had had at Halloween a few months earlier! The difference is, that Easter candy, unlike Halloween or Valentine’s Day candy or even candy in a goody bag, is eaten first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. We’ve found the first meal of the day is notoriously difficult to dose correctly for, and eating candy (and essentially nothing else) led to dramatic and horrible blood sugar spikes.
So here’s what we do now. We still allow for “bingeing,” but we feed him an ultra hearty breakfast first. Then the kids get their Easter baskets and start indulging. The immediate result is that James’ blood sugar rise is tempered by the fat and protein of his breakfast. (Again, this may not work for everyone, and we know we always need to check with our health-care provider about ideas like this and be vigilant about monitoring blood sugar.) The unintended but still very positive consequence is that he has little appetite for candy after such a hearty breakfast. So while he doesn’t feel deprived, he also limits the amount of candy that he consumes!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.