How to Handle Halloween with Type 1 Diabetes

By Jennifer Griffin

It’s October and as the weather changes thoughts turn to Halloween. Whether it’s your first year or your fifteenth the massive quantities of candy, treats and not to mention the extra exercise of Trick or treating can be daunting for any T1D parent.

First, let me say that I will never judge another family for how they handle diabetes. This condition is big enough without us turning on each other. However, since our family has had this particular adventure for 12 years here are a few of my tips.

My DD was 2 when we were diagnosed, so it was really easy to let her go to 15 houses for trick or treating, take some pictures, give her one candy and then mysteriously make it disappear. We saved the candy for emergency lows (and mom’s energy after a long night) and moved on to Thanksgiving.

As my daughter grew we had to come up with a way to “get rid of” most of the candy without her feeling deprived. Out of this, the Halloween Fairy was born. I realize since then someone has created a “Sugar Goblin” similar to the Elf on the Shelf, but this isn’t nearly as much work. The Halloween Fairy takes some of the candy collected for trick or treating and leaves a toy instead. The more they give up, the better the toy. This works for non-T1D kids too, leaving even more candy for the “emergency stash”.

It’s hard at these times to have your kiddo see their friends digging into large piles of candy and eating whatever they want, so be sure to be ready with carb counts and insulin. Same with the school Halloween party. If your kiddo is old enough discuss what treats might be there and strategies for making good choices. Send a baggie to bring extra treats home and make sure the teacher understands your plan. This is where a pump comes in handy verses multiple injections, but just correcting after works too. Remember that candy carbs burn hot and fast. Our first few years we actually had rebound lows. Increasing a temp basal rate will allow them to graze during Trick or Treating and setting a timer to stop and check their blood glucaose every 30 minutes allows you to gage how they’re doing.

Allowing your kid to have some treats will let them feel like their peers, while setting limits helps them understand the importance of balance. Really, that’s an important lesson for anyone because no one needs to eat the entire bowl of candy in one night.

Which brings me to my final point: It’s just one night. So often we get tunnel vision on “in range” that we forget that our kids have diabetes, diabetes doesn’t have them. Ok, so it’s not ideal to pop up into the 250’s, but it won’t hurt them if it happens one night and you correct after bedtime.

So for all the sugar monsters out there – run, have fun, eat Reese’s because they’re high in protein too, share with mom and dad because they deserve it and Happy Halloween!

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