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The Sweet Life: Halloween Tips for Children with Type 1 Diabetes

Halloween is one of the best times of the year.  When else can you dress up to be whatever your mind can imagine and go door to door asking for treats? For some families who are living with Type 1 diabetes, the concept of lugging around a giant bag of carbohydrates can seem rather scary. However, there is no reason for alarm or to not enjoy this childhood rite of passage. Just like anything, balance is key. 


Here are a few guidelines to help enjoy the holiday while keeping your child’s diabetes under control.


Before heading out

    • Avoid costumes that have gloves or cover your hands. You will want to test your blood glucose levels from time to time since walking is exercise.
    • Make sure your child has a properly balanced meal to give them fuel for the night’s festivities.
    • Make a game plan with your ghoulish gang. Is your child just walking? Are there hills? Are you stopping at a friend’s house? Are you walking through a haunted house? (Adrenaline from being scared may impact the effectiveness of your child’s insulin.) Have a plan for your insulin dosing for the evening.
    • Let your child just be a kid once their friends arrive.  Establish rules for the evening beforehand.   Once they are with their pack of monsters, it can be difficult to communicate.
      • Check-in times
      • Target blood sugar ranges
      • Basal insulin rates (when using a pump)
      • How many treats then can have when they get home
      • Some kids do not like to talk about their “numbers” in front of friends, so have a non-verbal signal that either all is good or that something feels off.
    • Keep your child’s diabetes supplies handy.
    • Be sure that someone who will be accompanying your child knows the symptoms of high and low blood sugars and what to do if an incident occurs.
    • Communication is key and can make all the difference in an emergency. Make sure to exchange cell phone numbers with everyone in the group.

While out scaring up some fun

    • Remember to test from time to time. Also, be diligent about cleaning their hands with an alcohol wipe prior to testing. Grease, paint, fake blood, and other costume accessories may impact your blood sugar readings.
    • Mini treats are around 5 carbs, fun size treats are around 15 carbs. In the event your child’s blood sugar is low, why not have some chocolate?
    • Stay hydrated! Walking is exercise.  Dehydration can lead to glucose related issues.  So, pack a water bottle or plan on stopping somewhere along the route to grab a drink.

When returning home

    • Portion treats into bags to avoid over-indulging. List the carb count on the bag for easy calculations. You can also toss in a single serving of nuts to add a little stabilizing protein to the treat.
    • If your child gets a large chocolate bar, consider trading a friend for two fun-sized ones.
    • Provide the opportunity for your child to trade candy for a movie night, trip to the toy store, or a break from household chores.
    • Find a local charity to donate your excess candy. Churches and military sites collect candy and send it to troops all over the world.
    • An evening of ghastly scares and creepy treats will most likely include some rule breaking. Make sure you test throughout the night while your child is sleeping. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate with all of the walking, treats, scares, and good times.


October guest writers ~Brian and Carla Desalle