A no-frills, no-bake snack mix that's
delicious by the handful. What it lacks in sophistication it more
than makes up for with its 5-minute prep time.
Christine Palumbo, a
mother of three, is a registered dietitian in Naperville and
an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University.
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Inez Lane remembers her daughter Jordan's Halloween
just weeks after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005. At
the time, Jordan was in the third grade. "We were very careful the
first Halloween. We paid her 25 cents for each piece of candy,"
says Lane. They allowed her to have just a few pieces that
"Now we are more comfortable with the situation. We still
pay her but let her keep a small bagful. She's allowed one piece a
day or every other day."
The sugary frenzy that accompanies the entire Halloween
season is enough to cause any parent to sigh. But for parents with
a diabetic child, Halloween can be worrisome. Treats abound the
entire month of October, culminating in the big day of
Yet diabetes experts generally agree that children can
enjoy some of their loot as long as they balance it with the proper
dose of insulin. "As long as it is worked into a meal plan and
covered by the child's insulin, sugar is allowed," explains Lela
Iliopoulos, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes
She says this is where carbohydrate counting skills are
used. "After eating treats, you can check blood glucose levels and
make any insulin adjustments, if needed." Iliopoulos, the diabetes
program coordinator at Palos Community Hospital, recommends looking
up the candy's carbohydrate content ahead of time, if
You can download the carbohydrate information for many
popular Halloween treats at diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/youth/ada-halloween-candy-list.pdf
It can be a challenge when there are siblings without
diabetes. "Instead of focusing on diabetes, shift it to overall
health by setting the same guidelines for all the kids and the
entire family. Do not single out the diabetes child or treat
him/her any differently than the other children-because then they
will feel different," Iliopoulos says. For example, each member of
the family can select two pieces of candy as a treat.
Try to avoid putting a negative emphasis on eating candy.
Instead, focus on moderation and teaching your kids how to fit
treats into a healthy, balanced diet for special
If you're the one hosting the party, you will definitely
have more control over the situation. Incorporate fun games to take
the emphasis off candy consumption. Costume contests, pumpkin
carving, crafts, face painting and spooky storytelling are classic
Offer healthier alternatives, such as homemade popcorn
balls, apple slices with just a bit of caramel, nuts, sandwiches
outlined in Halloween shapes using a cookie cutter, or homemade
cookies made with a little less sugar. Toys and other non-candy
prizes such as colorful pencils, stickers, erasers or coins are
also a hit.
Set a few rules like "no candy eating during the hunt" to
minimize the amount of sugar ingested.
Limit the number of houses at which your children can
Agree on a candy allowance ahead of time with your
children. Have them pick out a few pieces at a time and put the
Swap the candy for money to be used for books or toys. Or
have them trade you their candy for cash to buy something they've
been saving up for. That will last longer than a piece of
After the holiday, save what remains and allow a piece of
candy each day that has been worked into the meal plan.
Keep a stash of treats to treat low blood sugar
levels. Like anyone else, children with diabetes should be
allowed to enjoy Halloween, as it only comes once a year.
Lane says her daughter, who is a competitive gymnast,
truly enjoys the holiday. "Now she trick-or-treats by herself. I
really put her diabetes care in her hands and put a lot of faith in
her. She has done it very well. She rarely gets low. She knows her
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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