Healthy Halloween Advice for Children With Diabetes

Expert suggests ways for kids to keep blood sugar under control, without feeling deprived

SATURDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- While there are challenges, Halloween can still be fun for children with diabetes, an expert says.

"They can enjoy Halloween and enjoy some of the sweets the holiday offers -- within reason," Dr. Kenneth McCormick, a pediatric endocrinologist and senior scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center, said in a university news release.

"We give parents and kids three options and let them decide how they want to handle Halloween and the sweets that come with it," he explained.

The first option is to count carbohydrates. A child tracks how many carbohydrates he or she consumes and takes, for example, one unit of insulin for every 15 to 20 grams of carbs.

"This is an easy option for kids on an insulin pump because they can just dial in an extra dose of insulin to compensate for what they are about to eat. But for kids that take shots, this could prove to be more difficult or inconvenient if they have to go to the school nurse for an extra dose," McCormick said.

The second option is to exchange candy for other goodies.

"Parents can trade the child a gift, money or low-carb snack for their candy. Parents also can provide a substitute snack for their child if a Halloween party at school is an issue," McCormick said. "We have been advising parents to do this for many, many years, and it is a solution that continues to work."

The third option is saving Halloween treats for dessert after dinner.

"By incorporating a sugary treat into mealtime, when a child would normally get a dose of insulin, it eliminates the need for adding doses to their regimen," McCormick said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and diabetes.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: University of Alabama at Birmingham, news release, Oct. 11, 2011

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