Fall is here, which means Halloween is around the corner. It’s that time of year when everyone with a faulty pancreas is forced to face their demons. Literally, there are demons out, it’s Halloween.
A holiday dedicated to the procurement of candy? Really? And my body doesn’t make insulin? I mean…are there cameras? Is this a joke?
Halloween doesn’t have to be torture with Diabetes. This post is really dedicated to the young people with Diabetes, because lord knows I struggled with this day when I was still in school. One year I stressed about avoiding candy for weeks leading up to Halloween– I’d brainstorm how I’d play it cool, ways to say no thanks without mentioning diabetes, why smelling it would be enough. And then one year I decided, screw it. No one’s gonna take my candy. I ate without reservation, pumping myself full of insulin with one hand while tearing into wrappers with the other. That year didn’t go so well, for the record.
My point is that I’ve tried it all, but the bottom line is, I like candy. Turns out that despite my bionic pancreas, the insulin pump, I am in fact human and enjoy sugar. I can’t lie to myself about it. After trying everything under the sun, I’ve learned that there are a few key tricks to Charming your Diabetes during a candy-centered holiday:
When I let my mind move past the candy obsession, I learned that there are lots of other Halloween elements that I enjoy much more than the candy.
–PUMPKINS. Love ’em. We paint them, we carve them, we visit them in the patch, I look at them on pinterest, we use them as decorations. Doing all the pumpkin prep work gets my mind off the looming day of candy. Not to mention the house looks fall-friendly!
–CRAFTS. Nothing distracts my candy-lovin mind like some good Halloween crafts. Great for the kids, great to give away. Great way to spend time together as opposed to obsessing over chocolate. Or sweet tarts. Ok I better get crafty.
–DAY OF THE DEAD. If you don’t know about this mexican tradition you should look it up. It’s much more meaningful than Halloween and the decorations are even better. I love everything about El Dia de Los Muertos, and at our house this time of year has become more about having a dedicated time of year to remember and celebrate lost loved ones. I’m not singing songs around the cemetery or anything, but Halloween can be a great opportunity to teach kids about other cultures and traditions, and, if you’re not into altar making, talk about lost loved ones’ favorite things.
–FALL BUCKET LIST. For kids, this is so fun. Ours usually includes things like pumpkin painting, leaf collecting, wagon riding, and painting fall pictures (always hilarious with toddlers). It’s just a quick little list of fun fall things to do that DON’T involve candy.
Cut the candy out and replace it with something else. Sounds painful, but in the long run you’ll be a lot happier for it. Finger puppets, vampire fangs, plastic bracelets, glow sticks, basically anything from the dollar bin at Target. Use these alternatives to pass out to trick-or-treaters and keep them around your house for fun…without the guilt that can come along with candy.
There is the option to “replace” candy with sugar-free alternatives, but I don’t really recommend it. The chemicals and artificial sweeteners are sometimes worse than the real thing, and the whole idea here is to get past the candy–not just exchange one unhealthy item for another. If you do replace with other food items, I suggest going for homemade treats (where you can control the ingredients–but don’t waste those on the trick-or-treaters because any good parent is going to make their kid throw it out), or real food treats like raisins.
3. HELP YOURSELF: BUY CANDY YOU HATE
If you know that you’ll be giving out good ol’ yummy candy for Halloween, do yourself a favor and pick something that you don’t like. I buy my candy for trick-or-treaters a day or two in advance–there’s no need for that to sit at my house for two weeks before halloween taunting me. And when I do buy it, last minute, I buy the stuff I don’t like. I’m a candy lover, but even I have a few less-than-favorites. I don’t want to call anyone out ahem, twizzlers, but there are some candies that I don’t crave , and therefore am not tempted to eat when they’re on my counter.
4. EAT THE CANDY
Um. ‘Scuse me, what?
Yep. That’s right. Eat it. Don’t do it like me all those year ago, diving headfirst into a bowl of Rolos, but if you know that you (or your child) really love(s) it, then PLAN for it.
–After trick-or-treating, pick 2 treats to eat right then and there. Count the carbs, and bolus for those.
–Go through the remaining candy and choose a few pieces to keep for later in the week–if you have kids this is a great time to get them involved in the decision making process and have them help choose the magic number of pieces to stay. I do this with my kids and they don’t have Diabetes.
If you need help getting that conversation going with your kids, the Switch Witch might be a good way to start. Like a Halloween Santa, she comes to your house to collect the candy on Halloween night and swaps it out for some other toy or prize. I just heard about it and haven’t tried it with my kids, but it seems like a good idea.
–The remaining candy goes away. Do not pass go, do not collect $100, just GET THE CANDY OUT. Let the Switch Witch take it, give it to friends, donate it, throw it away . Don’t feel too guilty about tossing it out, you’re making a healthy choice for your faulty pancreas. I’ve found that the throw-away-guilt makes me keep it around, and when it’s just lying there I eat it with reckless abandon.
The idea here is that you (or you and your kids) are CHOOSING to keep a few select pieces that you know you love. You no longer have the giant bag staring at you, begging you to eat it. You are no longer thinking about the giant bag of candy you have stashed somewhere that you shouldn’t be eating. You are freeing yourself. You have made a conscious decision to keep this select amount, and when you eat it you’ll bolus for it, and it will be delicious. None of the guilt, no closet face-shoving of m&m&m&m&m&m&m’s.
You’re free to eat it. Just do it wisely.
And here’s my last tip for Halloween–if you must buy Candy Corns, get the ones that come pre packaged in the small individual baggies, so that you have built in portion control, and you can get the exact number of carbs. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve fallen into the “I’ll just grab a couple of Candy Corns” trap! Those little suckers are dangerous!
Happy Candy Bolus, everyone!