Kids with diabetes can still enjoy Halloween



It’s October, when summer heat gives way to autumn crispness and kids' thoughts turn to costumes, candy and the other sweet-tasting goodies of Halloween.

There’s one group of children, however, who can’t splurge like most others: those with type 1 and 2 diabetes. The good news is that they don’t have to miss out entirely on treats, says Dr. Steven Mittelman, chief of pediatric endocrinology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Careful monitoring of their health can help them enjoy a safe and happy Halloween.

“Let your child enjoy some candy, making sure they monitor their blood glucose and take their medications as prescribed,” says Mittelman. “For children who take insulin with all meals and snacks, combining candy with a meal can reduce the need for extra injections, and help reduce the blood glucose spikes from candy alone.”

Other Halloween strategies parents can use to help their kids include adding low-carb and healthy snacks, such as popcorn or sugar-free candy, to their treat bags.

Dr. Steven Mittelman, chief of pediatric endocrinology at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital

Other strategies to keep children with diabetes from feeling left out include:
• Plan other Halloween activities such as pumpkin decorating, arts and crafts, and creating costumes, taking the focus off the candy.
• Work with your child to agree on reasonable rules for the evening. Ask your child for their input and include their idea in the plan.
• Make sure to treat all kids in the house with the same guidelines.
• Have your child keep their favorite candy and give away the rest. Many dentists will buy back extra candy. Or look for a buy-back location here.  Alternatively, you could offer to "pay" your child for the extra candy with stickers, coins or small toys.

But there are some things to be wary of, says Mittelman.

“The candy you don’t know your child is eating can be particularly concerning,” he says. “Make sure you and your child are on the same page with the plan and why it is important. For children who have a hard time resisting, remove extra candy to a safe location your child can’t get to. And consider checking your child’s blood glucose an extra time or two during the night, to make sure you can get them back on target.”

Also, be sure to call your doctor if your child appears ill or is vomiting, or if you are concerned for any other reasons.

Most of all, he says, “make sure that you and your children have fun.”


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