I feel like I’m writing a persuasive essay on why it’s okay for my child with type 1 diabetes to participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween. But since I find myself defending this position nearly every year, I figured I’d organize my thoughts into a blog post!
The first thing I’m going to say is that it’s fine with me if I am ultimately unsuccessful in swaying you to encourage your own child to trick-or-treat. If I have learned anything in my decade of parenting, it is that every family and every child is going to be a little bit different. Over the years, I’ve talked to many families, some with diabetes and some without, that have employed different strategies to deal with the candy holidays. To that I say: If it works for you, awesome. I’m asking for the same kind of consideration. Because we have a strategy that works for us, and it is awesome!
In order to understand our family, you have to take a look at the bigger picture. We are a family that really strives to eat healthy. We try to focus on eating vegetables and whole foods, and we pack our diet with lots of healthy variety. We rarely eat desserts, never drink soda, and try to limit added sugar that sneaks into otherwise healthy foods like into yogurt or school snacks. By doing this we feel like we already consume way less sugar than the average American family. It’s important to note that we did this BEFORE diabetes. I think sugar is something that can be a problem for all of us, not just those who count carbs and take insulin!
Now, we DO eat candy. 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. Where does the candy from the movie night bag come from? Well, any candy my kids receive during the week — whether from Sunday School or Cub Scouts® or even from the classroom — all that candy goes into the movie night bag. It’s our way to confine treats to only once per week. It’s also majorly replenished during our big candy holidays — like Easter or yes, Halloween! You’d be surprised at how popular our movie night bag really is! It has turned into a nice device to limit sweets without really taking anything away.
Now, on Halloween, we do a little thing that I can see might be considered controversial. 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. 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.
It will only be a few more years before James grows out of trick-or-treating. For now, it’s pretty much one of his favorite things. We go with it. I’m hoping that as he gets older he’ll continue to have fun on Halloween night, shifting his priority from gathering candy to giving it out to the little ones. In the meantime, we like our candy traditions. We feel like we’ve come up with a good compromise between health and getting to enjoy being a kid.
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.
Cub Scouts® is a registered trademark of Boy Scouts of America. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.