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Oct. 24, 2001

For immediate release

For more information, please contact:
Marge Dwyer, Joslin Communications (617) 732-2415

Helping Kids With Diabetes Enjoy Halloween and the Holidays
With Planning, They Can Enjoy Treats - And That's No Trick

BOSTON, Mass. - It is often taken for granted that children with diabetes don't enjoy Halloween since it is assumed they cannot have any candy or treats. The truth is that children with diabetes can actively participate and enjoy Halloween - and any holiday - by planning ahead so that they can fit some treats into their diabetes management plans, and find other ways of celebrating the holiday as well.

"Proper planning is really the key to making sure that Halloween is as fun a holiday for kids with diabetes as it is for all children," explains Margie Lawlor, M.S., C.D.E., coordinator of pediatric research and education, who helps lead Joslin/Boston children's programs. "We emphasize to parents of youngsters with diabetes that their kids can fully participate in Halloween and other holiday festivities, but it does take planning ahead - including counting the number of grams of carbohydrates ("carb counting") and using extra insulin such as Humalog, (a very rapid acting insulin) to match with food intake."

Carbohydrate counting is one of several different ways people with diabetes can manage their food intake to keep their blood sugars as close to normal as possible. In carbohydrate counting, you and your health care team determine the grams of carbohydrate (carb) you eat at meals and snacks. The reason you focus on counting grams of carbohydrate is because carbohydrates tend to have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.

Most of the carbohydrate we eat comes from three food groups: starch, fruit and milk. Vegetables also contain some carbs, but foods in the meat and fat groups contain very little carb.

While it is commonly thought that people with diabetes should avoid all forms of sugar, in fact most people with diabetes can eat foods containing sugar as long as the total amount of carbohydrate (carb) for that meal or snack is consistent with what their healthcare team recommends. For example, one might think that a small candy bar would make blood sugar rise faster than 1/2 cup of potatoes; but in fact, the potatoes will contribute about 15 grams of carb, while the candy bar only has 15-20 grams of carb as well. So, if a child's meal plan says that he or she can have 60 grams of carb for dinner, for example, a small piece of candy can be incorporated into that calculation on a given evening.

Exercise is also a good tool for kids, since physical activity helps the body use insulin better to keep blood sugars in control. Offering children with diabetes and their siblings alternatives such as crayons, stickers, or sugarless gum can be helpful as well.

Lawlor says Joslin diabetes educators stress healthy eating for kids with diabetes in general, and always offer parents helpful and tasty alternatives to sugary snacks. For example, for school parties, parents can send in ants on a log (made with celery, and peanut butter and raisins), carrot sticks and dip, pretzels and party mix snacks, or fresh apples in season. Small amounts of sweets can also be included. Most importantly, kids need to feel they can participate.

During the fall season, the children's groups that meet monthly at Joslin enjoy celebrating the holidays with arts and crafts projects, as well as sharing healthy snacks. "We try to provide guidelines for the holiday season when it's more challenging to eat right," says Lawlor.

"During this season, we have a holiday theme for each month's meeting, and we teach by example, with play groups and talking with kids about smart choices."

Susan Perry, R.D., C.D.E., diabetes educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate at St. Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ, suggests that children enjoy trick-or-treating and then have parents and kids discuss together what are the child's favorite treats and work those snacks into their meal plan. "Another great option is to have parents buy back some candy so that kids can get money to get a non-food fun treat, such as a game of cards or a small toy," she says. "We never want children to feel deprived or that they have to sneak candy."

Joslin Diabetes Center's

Here's a sampling of carbohydrate grams counts for candy bars:

Baby Ruth bar (2 oz.) 37
Butterfinger (2 oz.) 41
Hersheys almond bar (1.45 oz.) 20
Nestle Crunch (1.5 oz.) 28
Gummy Bears (11 pieces) 30
Milky Way bar (2.15 oz.) 43
Snickers bar (2.07 oz.) 36
3 Musketeers (2.13 oz.) 46
Heath Bar (1.4 oz.) 25

October 28, 2001

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Last Updated: Thursday February 27, 2014 19:28:21
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