Much to my surprise, Halloween becomes a bigger deal every year in other parts of the world outside the US.
My first year outside the US, I completely forgot about Halloween. I was quickly reminded when some children came to knock on my door. They assumed that as an American, I must have had a treat or two waiting.
Sadly, I did not.
Fast forward to Dubai. There is a Fall Festival at my son’s school and several sugar-laced activities throughout the week.
Can Halloween and Diabetes Co-Exist?
My neighbor and I have thrown a costume party every year for the kids in our neighborhood for the last few years, and diabetes does not interfere. My son trick-or-treats with his friends as well.
One challenge we face at Halloween is stopping to find his pump inside his Halloween costume. One year he had a one-piece Star Wars character suit. I needed a strategy to get that pump out and bolus quickly so he could keep up with his friends running from door to door.
Our biggest challenge with diabetes during Halloween? Feeling like we are missing something, even if it’s just for the five seconds it takes me to find his pump.
Myths about Halloween and Diabetes
Many people often say, “Wow, Halloween must be difficult since he cannot have any candy.”
They are horrified in a very ghostly, open-mouth way when I tell them he can have candy. And I actually give it to him.
One of the first things our endocrinologist told us was to not make food forbidden. “You do not want an eating disorder later on,” I recall him saying.
Teach healthy eating habits. Let him be a kid.
Striking the Balance: Sweets and Candy During Halloween
Even if my child did not have diabetes, “being a kid” would not mean a candy-eating free-for-all after trick or treating.
What this means is we may have a piece of candy or two on Halloween night, and then save the rest for later.
We bolus for the candy eaten at the time, and then put the rest in the cabinet or share it with others. Everything in moderation.
I like to think our relationship with candy and sweets is pretty good. After that night, my son usually forgets about it and never gives it a second thought. I could easily recycle his candy for the next Halloween.
I know this could change over time, but I am still pleased.
However, he is also learning about sweets from a pro. Recently I walked into a supermarket in Dubai, and I found brands of candy I had not seen in years. American “classics” I didn’t even think they made anymore. And because of his love of peanut butter, of course I had to introduce him to Reese’s Pieces… forget that I will end up eating more of them than him! (Of course, all in the name of saving his blood sugar from the candy.)
If your child is not at a school that celebrates Halloween, or Fall Festival, I am sure these feelings could apply to other celebrations. My advice is aim for moderation. Let your child be a kid, and help them make good choices.
If you are like me and cave to the occasional, nostalgic sweet, I have yet to find a solution for that one. Please let me know when you do!
Do you have survival tips about managing Halloween and diabetes? Leave your comment below.
Our Traveling with Diabetes guide has advice on healthy snacks for kids to take with you on vacation.
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