Even before the leaves start to change, Halloween candy is everywhere you turn. Many people who aren't familiar with type 1 diabetes are under the impression that children who have it can't eat candy…ever. In truth, this isn't the case. But parents need to make sure their children indulge in moderation and be careful to minimize the disruption in blood sugar control.
"It's important to make sure they're covered with insulin for the amount of carbs the candy contains," says dietitian Robyn Webb, M.S., nutritionist, cookbook author and "Healthy Eating" columnist for the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Forecast magazine.
Counting carbs is imperative. To find out carb counts for common candies, check out the handy guide on the JDRF website. Values vary widely, from 2 grams for a Pixie Stick® all the way up to 46 grams for a full-size Three Musketeers®.
When candy's for dessert, consult with your health-care provider and monitor your child's blood sugar closely. "Since everyone is different, it will be a bit of an experiment to see if a pure sugar candy -- like a hard sucker with no fat -- or a sugar/fat combo [like chocolate] works better for your child," says Webb.
That said, sugar-free candy is an option also. Totally banning candy can backfire: If it's forbidden, children may just want it more -- and may be more likely to sneak it. Instead, you can teach them how to eat candy in moderation, as a (very small!) part of their usual balanced and healthy diet.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.
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