Kids who have diabetes can still yell, "trick or treat" this Halloween and enjoy the sweet treats as long as parents heed the advice from Kenneth McCormick, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist and senior scientist at Alabama's UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center. He says, “We give parents and kids three options and let them decide how they want to handle Halloween and the sweets that come with it.”
• Count carbs
McCormick says by counting carbohydrates – which your body breaks down into glucose creating fluctuations in blood sugar – kids can enjoy some of the treats Halloween has to offer in moderation. In this option, the child keeps up with how many carbs they are eating and takes, for example, one unit of insulin for every 15 or 20 grams of carbohydrates.
“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,” he says.
• Exchange candy
“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 says. “We have been advising parents to do this for many, many years, and it is a solution that continues to work.”
• Save for dessert
McCormick says kids can savor their Halloween treats without an extra shot or dose of insulin by having them for dessert after dinner. “By incorporating a sugary treat into meal time, when a child would normally get a dose of insulin, it eliminates the need for adding doses to their regimen.”
Parents and children should choose the option that helps diabetic kids enjoy Halloween candy and other holiday treats while sticking to their treatment, he says.
About the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center
The UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center is a university-wide interdisciplinary research center comprised of approximately 190 faculty members from 10 different schools and multiple departments. It is the umbrella for various research projects, programs and awards, including the Diabetes Research and Training Center, one of only seven centers nationwide funded by the National Institutes of Health. Faculty at the Comprehensive Diabetes Center conduct cutting-edge research into the causes and consequences of diabetes and work collaboratively towards the discovery of better treatment approaches and ultimately a cure for diabetes. The center also offers educational services with conferences, seminars and training opportunities for scientists, clinicians and the public, and provides a number of state-of-the-art diabetes specialty clinics including a Multidisciplinary Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic to meet the needs of patients with diabetes and of the community at large. For more information go to http://diabetes.dom.uab.edu
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the state of Alabama’s largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50. Find more information at www.uab.edu and www.uabmedicine.org.