It’s October, otherwise known as the month dominated by all things pumpkin. Not that we’re complaining, sometimes we wish it was October more often. However, October and pumpkins goes hand-in-hand with Halloween, which can be an intimidating and challenging day for diabetics and their parents. Our goal here is to provide support and ideas that might help change the common negative or fear-filled views of the holiday for parents of diabetics into positive ones.
One of the first places to start is with your child’s teacher. By Halloween, it’s possible teachers have a pretty good understanding of the needs and requirements of their student’s diabetes. But Halloween isn’t like every other day of the school year, so they’ll need to know what to do differently. Many schools and classrooms have parties and give out candy. Let the teacher know your child can have a piece or two of candy during the school day, but they can’t eat the whole goodie bag. It’s important for your child to feel like the rest of the students while still considering what’s in their best interest. Though it’s not an option for everyone, volunteering to help at the school Halloween festivities might make things easier for your type one and lower some of your stress.
Blood sugar levels don’t always feel like working with us, but we can try to influence them as much as possible. Something you can do throughout Halloween, especially at dinner, is to try and get your child’s levels as steady as possible. We all have certain foods and regiments that tend to work best for us, so try making those meals. For many this is a meal high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Having those blood sugar levels as steady as possible will make a couple of pieces of candy less of a big deal.
Another approach is to try and redefine what Halloween is all about. For many kids, the focus is costumes and candy, but there’s ways to minimize the role that candy plays in the day. Instead of going trick-or-treating, you can create the tradition of going to or throwing a party. Your child can still dress up and get into the spirit, but the activity can change from trick-or-treating to spooky games and gathering with friends.
Some kids aren’t going to want to change the way they participate in Halloween, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The goal is to prioritize their health, not make them feel like they’re missing out. If your child still wants the day to be all about the candy, then let’s do it! Instead of changing or eliminating trick-or-treating, look to encourage your child to change what they do with the candy. There are many places, such as hospitals and nursing homes, that accept donated candy. If your child is going to end up giving away their candy to a good cause, everyone can feel good about them trying to get as much candy as possible when trick-or-treating. Some dentists also have programs in place to give children prizes in return for them trading in their candy.
No matter how you decide to handle Halloween this year, remember this more than anything else: it’s only one day. While we typically obsess over managing our children’s blood sugar levels, it’s okay for them to have a day where they aren’t perfect. Be prepared, but don’t drive yourself crazy with worry over a single day. Time to get spooky!