Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trick-or-treating for diabetics

With Halloween coming up, USA Today felt it necessary to run this article, about whether or not diabetic kids can celebrate Halloween:

Halloween still a treat for diabetic kids

There are two opposing viewpoints in this article: One set of experts says candy is okay, while the other says no candy, and recommends plotting with the neighbors to give your kid toys instead, or bribing them with iPod downloads to give up their candy.

WTF? When did bribing children become advisable, no matter what they've got?

Okay, let me make this quite clear: Diabetics can have candy. This isn't the 1980s. Our insulins and blood glucose monitoring systems are pretty efficient. There is no need to deprive your kid of candy on Halloween.

I like the first expert's advice:

"Sugar isn't the no-no it once was, but it's still never a good idea to sit down and just gorge on as much candy as you can. We recommend having a plan," says Debby Johnson, a nutrition and wellness coach for diabetes website

Johnson recommends getting your child involved in his or her health choices before the chocolate and Gummi worms come home.

"Do some exploring in the grocery store before Halloween. Look at different bags of candy to see how many carbohydrates are in each piece," Johnson says.

Basically, he's saying not to let diabetic kids graze mindlessly (not a good idea for anyone, actually), but to plan out how much candy they're going to have, know what is in each one, and take the correct amount of insulin.

I would also add that your diabetic kids need to be required to test their blood sugar every hour when eating candy, and correct as necessary. I find that candy and some foods, no matter how many carbs they are supposed to have in them, have a more significant impact on my blood sugar than I expect. I think it's because the super-processed sugar hits my bloodstream faster, upping my resistance to the insulin before it can take effect. (The higher your blood sugar levels are, the more resistant you are to insulin.)

They do say to be sure to moderate and not let them eat too much candy at once, but I have to say I don't think it does too much harm if they do. Just require that they keep checking their blood sugar every hour and correct as necessary. Honestly, the sooner the candy is gone, the sooner any spike in blood sugar can be brought back under control!

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