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Happy Halloween… Tricks & Treats!

October 21, 2010

With just a few tricks in mind, Halloween can still be a treat for children with type 1 diabetes. While children across the nation are going to parties, running from door to door, and eating chocolates and candy by the bagful, there are ways that Halloween can still be fun for children who don’t have the traditional treats in their diet.

Dr. Aaron Kowalski, Scientific Program Manager for JDRF, was diagnosed with type 1 as a child, as was his brother. He grew up having to deal with Halloween envy. “It’s hard to watch other kids tear into sacks of candy, but with a little pre-planning, our parents managed to make the holiday more fun for us,” he said. “Our parents made the neighbors aware of our situation, and they in turn made sure to have healthy alternatives on hand and some even gave us coins instead of candy. We never knew the difference, and it saved us from feeling different from our friends.”

By the time they’re going trick-or-treating or being invited to Halloween parties, children with type 1 generally know what they can’t eat and why. What’s important is to exchange the sugar shock for something just as good – or better. Here are some ideas to help make sure there on no real scares on the 31st.

Trade candy for cash or toys
Renowned chef Michel Nischan has two sons with type 1 diabetes, and he says that a little candy on Halloween is OK, but suggests that most of their treats be exchanged for a toy or something they really want. “Parents can also buy back the collected candy with a coin for each piece,” he says, adding that “older kids may appreciate their parents making a contribution to a worthy charity like JDRF or to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.”

Plan alternative activities and treats
Host a Halloween party and offer things like glow-in-the-dark insects, Halloween-themed stickers, and cause-related wristbands as treats. Popcorn balls and sugar-free candy and other sugar-free treats can replace the usual sweets. By placing the focus on fun and not food, the holiday can be better and healthier for everyone involved.

Inform teachers and health care officials at your child’s school
Prepare your child as well as faculty and staff with information about type 1 diabetes before Halloween events begin. The holiday can be an opportunity to teach about health, science, and diet. Some schools have used Halloween as an occasion to calculate the carbohydrate counts (see carb counts below) for varied serving sizes of sweets before classroom parties.

From all of us hear at JDRF, have a very safe & Happy Halloween!

Carbohydrate Values for Common Candies*

Candy Size/Package Carbs (g)
3 Musketeers 16 gram fun-sized bar 12g
3 Musketeers 2.13 oz bar 46g
Baby Ruth 2 oz. bar 37g
Baby Ruth 1 fun size 17g
Blow Pop sucker One sucker 13g
Butterfinger 2 oz. bar 41g
Butterfinger 22 gram-fun sized bar 15g
Candy corn 15 pieces 15g
Dum Dum suckers One sucker 5g
Gummy Bears 11 pieces 30g
Heath Bar 1.4 oz. bar 25g
Hershey’s Almond 3 minis 15g
Hershey’s Almond 1.45oz. bar 20g
Hershey’s Kisses 6 pieces 16g
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar snack size 10g
Jolly Rancher 1 piece 6g
Kit Kat bar 3 piece bar 10g
KitKat 1.5 oz. package 26g
Licorice 3 6-inch Twizzlers 15g
M&M’s “Halloween” mini box 10g
M&M’s, plain mini pack 15g
M&M’s, plain 1.69 oz bag 34g
M&M’s, peanut mini pack 13g
M&M’s, peanut 1.74 oz bag 30g
M&M’s, peanut butter 1.69 oz bag 27g
Milky Way 2.15 oz bar 43g
Milky Way fun-sized bar 14g
Nestle’s Cruch 1.5 oz 28g
Nestle’s Crunch 4 mini bars 26g
Reese’s Cups 2 regular-sized 1 oz cups 18g
Reese’s mini cups 4 1-oz mini cups 16g
Skittles 15 pieces 15g
Skittles mini pack 17.5g
Snicker’s fun size 12g
Snickers 2.07 oz. bar 36g
Snickers 20-gram fun-sized bar 12g
Starburst 4 pieces 16g
Sweet Tarts mini packs – 5 packs 13g
Tootsie Pop 1 pop 16g
Tootsie Roll midgets 12 30g
Tootsie Rolls 2 bars 23g
Twix 2 2-oz. cookies 37g
Warheads 5 13g
Whoopers 8 Pieces 15g
Whoppers 1 small pouch 16g
Wonka Pixie Stix Each (about 6 in. in length) 2g

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* Carb Counts from Children with Diabetes
Article from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation national website.

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