The hunt is on for that perfect witch’s costume and the biggest pumpkin ever. In less than two weeks, trick-or-treaters will spill into the neighborhoods in search of as many treats as possible.
It’s the one night of the year when some kids will overindulge on an assortment of candy. It can get little hairy, especially considering about 4 percent of all candy consumed in the U.S. is eaten on that single day, according to according to The NPD group, which does market research on eating trends. It can get even hairier for the child with type 2 diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last two decades, Type 2 diabetes has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency.
Those with type 2 diabetes must maintain a healthy diet, stay physically active and monitor their blood glucose levels in order to maintain a regular lifestyle. They must monitor their blood glucose levels constantly, even on Halloween. That does not mean they can’t have fun. It just means a little extra planning.
Most children with type 2 diabetes can still have candy. They just need to be cognizant of carbohydrate counts. Carbohydrates can spike sugar levels.
Read labels and reach for fun-size snacks as opposed to a full candy bar. Watch the numbers and make trade-offs. For example, a snack-size Kit Kat bar, for instance, has 70 calories, 4 grams of fat and 9 grams of carbs, whereas a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup has 105 calories, 6.5 grams of fat and12 grams of carbs. Picking the Kit Kat will save 3 grams of carbs and sugar, and 35 calories. Choosing long-lasting hard candies with less sugar won’t do as much harm to blood sugar levels, as well. Three pieces of Jolly Rancher hard candies have 7 grams of sugar, while one fun-size bag of Skittles can contain more than double that amount.
Remember this, too. Halloween does not have to be all about trick-or treating. Invite your children’s friends over and have a stay-at-home party with healthy treats everyone can enjoy. Have a costume contest and award prizes.
Roast the seeds from the pumpkins you carved, and let your kids try adding different flavors (who knew cumin would taste good on pumpkin seeds?). A vegetable tray in the shape of a jack-o-lantern and ghost pops and banana ghost pops are just some of the ideas we are going to try in our house this year. And I’m looking forward to serving my kids a glass of water with eerie eyeball ice cubes inside.
Finally, health care providers recommend that you make sure to send your kids out trick-or-treating with a full stomach. Give them a healthy dinner beforehand, which will help reduce their temptation to fill up on candy. Halloween is a lot of fun, and with a few small changes, it can be a little bit healthier as well.
Have fun with healthy, sugar-free chocolate, raisins, craisins, strawberries and more. Get creative. If you’re looking for ideas, check out this video from the American Diabetes Association.
Let’s face it part of the fun of Halloween is seeing how much candy you can actually get. So, if after eating some and the fun of the night has worn out, check out the Halloween Candy Buyback Program. The programs are usually, though not always, sponsored by dental offices.
Participants buy back kids’ Halloween candy at a scheduled event with cash, xylitol products, coupons, toothbrushes, creative exchanges – They can partner with local businesses to give away coupons for food, services, goods, etc.
It helps the children learn about service, helps a worthy cause and can save them calories and possibly cavities.
A version of this story first appeared on HealthCentral.com.