Children With Diabetes Can Enjoy Halloween's Sugary Treats

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 30, 2001 -- Halloween can be a difficult time for children with diabetes, but with careful planning, these kids can enjoy tricks -- and treats, say diabetes experts.

"Proper planning is really the key to making sure that Halloween is as fun a holiday for kids with diabetes as it is for all children," says Margie Lawlor, MS, in a news release. She is coordinator of pediatric research and education and helps lead the Joslin Diabetes Center children's programs.

"We emphasize to parents of youngsters with diabetes that their kids can fully participate in Halloween and other holiday festivities, but it does take planning ahead -- including counting the number of grams of carbohydrates and using extra insulin such as Humalog [a very rapid-acting insulin] to match with food intake," she says.

Carbohydrate counting allows kids with diabetes to actually enjoy that candy bar that they found on their hunt for sugary treats. This allows your child to tantalize her taste buds without sending her blood sugar through the roof.

Many people think that diabetics must avoid all types of sugar. But this is not the case. For example, on occasion, a small piece of candy can be incorporated into your child's daily carbohydrate diet by replacing the sugary treat with another type of carbohydrate, such as potatoes.

It's true that your child won't be able to chow down his whole pumpkin bag full of treats. But there are ways to have fun while staying healthy, Lawlor says, by being creative and offering kids tasty alternatives to sugary snacks.

For example, parents can serve ants on a log (made with celery, peanut butter, and raisins), carrot sticks and dip, pretzels, party mix snacks, or fresh apples. And small amounts of sweets can even be included.

But how do you deal with that bag full of treats that your child brings home?

Susan Perry, registered dietitian and diabetes educator at St. Barnabas Ambulatory Care in Livingston, N.J., says that children should enjoy trick-or-treating and then parents should ask their child to pick out some of their favorite treats. These snacks should then be incorporated into the child's overall diet plan.


"Another great option is to have parents buy back some candy so that kids can get money to get a non-food fun treat, such as a game of cards or a small toy," she says in a news release. "We never want children to feel deprived or that they have to sneak candy."

The Joslin Diabetes Center says that sweets in moderation are OK. Candy equal to about 15 grams of carbohydrates includes:

11 candy corns
4 Starbursts
1/2 stick Twix
2 sticks Kit Kat
30 Reese's Pieces
1/2 pack of M&Ms (plain or peanut)
1 piece of Fruit by the Foot
6 Hi-C Gummy Fruits
5 LifeSavers GummiSavers <
3 Twizzlers
3 Tootsie Rolls (small)
6 Junior Mints
16 Good & Plentys
15 Skittles
9 SweeTarts
2 Jolly Ranchers
1 Tootsie Pop

The Joslin Diabetes Center also offers a sampling of carbohydrate gram counts for various candy bars:

Baby Ruth (2 oz) 37
Butterfinger (2 oz) 41
Hershey's Almond (1.45 oz) 20
Nestlé Crunch (1.5 oz) 28
Milky Way (2.15 oz) 43
Snickers (2.07 oz) 36
3 Musketeers (2.13 oz) 46
Heath (1.4 oz) 25

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD on October 30, 2001
© 2001 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.