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Managing Diabetes with Trick-or-Treating

Q: [All Ages] As a parent of a diabetic child, how do I manage trick-or-treating?

A: Halloween can be a “tricky” time to manage blood sugars, especially with all sorts of treats available. Even fun events can distract a child from their normal symptoms of high and low blood sugar. Keeping this in mind on holidays like Halloween is important. Checking blood sugars, staying hydrated and having a plan can help you and your little ones stay safe and happy.

On Halloween day:

  • Plan to eat a healthy, balanced dinner before trick-or-treating to fuel the fun! This will help optimized blood glucose control and reduce the risk of having too much candy due to hunger before the activities begin.
  • Be safe and ready. Take a bottle of water, a flashlight, comfortable shoes, and a glucometer and glucose tablets. Always communicate with the group and other families if your child is at risk of hypoglycemia.
  • Avoid snacking on candy until they are home. Keep water and a healthy travel snack like trail mix available in case hunger sets in.

After trick-or-treating:

  • Exchange extra candy for pennies or other non-edible goodies such as stickers, small toys or fun accessories.
  • Have your child pick their favorite candy and donate the rest.
  • Invite siblings and friends to participate in these exchanges and donations.
  • Focus this holiday around spending time with friends and dressing up rather than on candy and sweets.
  • Plan fun Halloween activities such as carving a pumpkin, visiting a pumpkin patch or a haunted house.
  • Use non-chocolate candy to treat lows, but limit the amount of candy eaten each day. Make a jar designated for candy to treat “lows.”
  • Plan a schedule to eat candy; perhaps add one candy daily to their school lunchbox or as a treat after dinner.

Joanna Gallo Moreno is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag.