Find your new favorite candy rationing strategy among these 13 genius ideas from experts, parents, and bloggers.
“On Halloween night, I let my kids consume as much of their candy as they like until they decide to turn it over to me. One night of gluttony. (I confess, I secretly hope that in doing so, they’ll SELF-limit, but that hasn’t really happened yet.) I do find it kind of stressful to watch James consume so much candy in one night. For us the numbers usually aren’t too terrible following our night of total indulgence, and my kids feel like they are the luckiest kids on the planet! I make sure they brush their teeth REALLY well that night!
After Halloween, the leftover candy goes into the movie night bag. Once a week, usually on Friday, we have “movie night.” Each kid in our family gets the opportunity to choose a movie to share with the whole family. And each kid gets to pick three small treats from the candy bag.
I think it helps that they got to eat so much candy the night before. Also, they still get to have the rest of their candy, just at a (much) slower pace! I like that they are not continuing to consume extra sugar night after night after night.”
—Jen M., Southern California
“My 5-year-old son, Ian, loves trick-or-treating, but I know he shouldn’t have all that candy. So I allow him to go ahead and collect candy throughout the neighborhood, and then we go through it together as he picks out five pieces that he can eat over five days — with me factoring in the carb counts, of course. Then we set the bag of candy by his bed and tell him the ‘Switch Witch’ is coming that night to switch out his candy for a toy. He loves his new toy, and I love knowing he won’t be tempted by sweets he shouldn’t be eating in the first place.”
–Barbara, Oklahoma City, Okla.
By October, the teacher may already know all about your son’s or daughter’s type 1 diabetes, but be sure to have a chat before the class party nonetheless. Let her know if your child can have one or two pieces of candy — but not 10 or 12! “The key is that the candy be a special treat, not a free-for-all, eat-as-much-as-you-want gorge-fest, says Robyn Webb, M.S., nutritionist, cookbook author and “Healthy Eating” columnist for the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast magazine. Make sure you and the teacher are on the same page, and have a chat with your child beforehand too, so he or she knows the parameters. If you can volunteer in the classroom that day, that might alleviate some of your concerns.
“This year I plan to use one of two strategies. The first idea comes from my children’s dentist. She suggested that I let them have as much candy as they want for three days after Halloween and then throw the rest away. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. When they first trained us at the hospital, one of the diabetes educators said that it’s better to have a couple of ‘bad’ diabetes days mixed in with a majority of really ‘good’ diabetes days than to have just ‘so-so’ diabetes days all the time. So, within reason (I certainly don’t want her levels to go through the roof, have her feel lousy for three days straight, or suffer any other consequences), this might be a really good strategy, especially in coming years when I have less control over each and every piece she eats. That said, this is just what our diabetes care team suggested, and it may not work for everyone. And if we try it, we’ll be monitoring blood sugar levels closely.”
“When I was young, I was one of those kids that would save and savor every piece of Halloween candy. It wouldn’t be a rare occasion for me to still be working on my Halloween stash until February, just in time to get a new candy stash at Valentine’s Day. I wouldn’t eat a lot at once, so I’d always have some available when I wanted it. This tends to be how I handle candy now with Kaitlyn as well. I usually confiscate all the candy Kaitlyn gets and create a ‘low’ goodie bag. Then, she gets a piece here or there, but especially when she has lower blood sugar levels.”
“We have a lot of trick-or-treaters come to the house, but we don’t give out candy. Instead, we pass out trinkets or little toys. That way, my 10-year-old son with type 1 diabetes won’t be tempted to sneak the candy when we’re not looking — and my husband and I won’t be tempted to eat junk food either. It’s a win-win for the whole family!”
–Joanna, Tujunga, Calif.
“We try to make sure Kaitlyn’s blood sugar numbers are right where they should be before going out for the big night of trick-or-treating. I always choose a hearty and protein-heavy dinner on Halloween night so that her numbers will be nice and steady. If I were to feed Kaitlyn pizza instead, we would probably end up chasing high numbers all night, and she wouldn’t be too happy to have to wait to eat her candy. When we aim to keep her numbers right in range or even on the low side, a piece of candy here and there throughout the night is just fine!”
“I’ve tried to create new Halloween traditions for my two kids ever since my child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. On Halloween night, we dress up in costume and go out to a nice — but sensible — dinner at the restaurant of their choice. Then we go to the mall, and I give them each $20 to spend on whatever they like. It’s a fun thing for them and creates a lot less stress for me.”
–Robyn, Jersey City, N.J.
Some clever dentists hold “Candy buy-backs” on November 1 that reward kids with nifty prizes for giving up the goods collected Halloween night. You can do something similar at home. After picking out a few pieces to savor, give your child a small prize or toy for handing over the rest of the loot.
–Cheryl Patterson, R.D., C.D.E., program coordinator for the Diabetes Education program at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.
Encourage children to donate the candy to a nursing home or children’s hospital.
–Robyn Webb, M.S., nutritionist, cookbook author and “Healthy Eating” columnist for the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast magazine
A cupboard full of sweets is hard for anyone to resist, let alone a child. Temptation can make Halloween a tough time for children with type 1 diabetes — and a stressful one for parents trying to ensure their children make the right choices. You can ease the pain a bit by keeping alternative Halloween snacks around the house. Fun snacks that are great to have around at Halloween include:
- Rainbow-colored Goldfish® crackers
- Raisins in cute little boxes
- Roasted pumpkin seeds (fresh from your jack-o’-lantern)
- Apples for bobbing
- Frozen grapes (which can double as “eyeballs” for a spooky snack)
— Robyn Webb, M.S., nutritionist, cookbook author and “Healthy Eating” columnist for the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast magazine.
“As chief candy inspector, my kids know I have complete control over incoming candy. Once it comes through that front door, all ownership goes out the window. So, what do I do with the candy? You’re going to have to ask your own doctor on this one, but I don’t buy glucose tabs –we save [non-chocolate] hard candies for lows. In my opinion, they’re just as good as glucose tabs but cheaper, and Kaitlyn thinks they’re more fun to eat.”
“Save the chocolate [Halloween candy] for chocolate chip cookies. I have a hard time throwing away chocolate knowing that I’ll end up buying chocolate chips for baking at a later date. I put all the chocolate in zipper bags and hide it away in the back of the pantry, or even chop it into chunks and put it in the freezer. Then, the next time one of my kids comes home and says ‘Mom, I need to bring two dozen cookies for my school play on Friday,’ I can whip up some cookies with bits of candy bar instead of making a trip out to buy chocolate chips.”
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.
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