Q: I feel like I have to relent and let my daughter eat candy on Halloween because "every other kid is," and if I say no it's because of her type 1 diabetes. Truth be told, I know exactly how to compensate for the increased sugar consumption with insulin, but I just don't want her eating so much sugary candy! How can I get this message across to my child?
A: When did "Trick or treat?" become such a complicated question? Given everything we now know about good nutrition for kids, opting out of the candy overload of October 31 is something many parents are contemplating these days, whether or not their children have type 1. Looking for easy ways to limit candy, without taking the fun out of Halloween? Successful methods include:
Candy Buy-backs. Some clever dentists hold "Candy buy-backs" on November 1 that reward kids with nifty prizes for giving up the goods collected Halloween night. You can do something similar at home. After picking out a few pieces to savor, give your child a small prize or toy for handing over the rest of the loot.
Limit Treats to One Day. Just because you can buy Halloween candy beginning the day after Labor Day doesn't mean you have to. If you do decide to stock up, keep the candy stashed away until October 31. Upping the anticipation can make the day more special and exciting for kids.
Be a Good Example. Instead of handing out candy, give small Halloween-themed erasers or stickers to trick-or-treaters. If you do give out candy, buy less so you don't have those tempting leftovers hanging around.
(Find more candy management tips and ideas here.)
Yes, the bottom line is to keep doing your best to help your child make healthy choices and follow a balanced diet. But my usual advice to parents of a child with type 1 is that after "grow food" needs are met, there is room for treats, within reason and reasonable amounts for a child's age (covered by an appropriate amount of insulin, of course). That old adage, "Everything in moderation," is a rule most kids seem to be able to follow.
--Cheryl Patterson, R.D., C.D.E., is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and program coordinator for the Diabetes Education program at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.
How Other Parents Deal
"I'm okay with Halloween as a special occasion to indulge in sweets, but I usually confiscate all the candy still left at the end of the night. My son has never realized this, but some of the candy that I've kept in my purse in case of an emergency low has actually been leftover Halloween loot!"
--Jennifer, mom of Evan
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.