Six Tricks to Enjoy Halloween with diabetes.

trick or treating with diabetes
from Charles Schultz

It is that time of year again, time to get ready for the Great Pumpkin and all of the fun…and anxiety that Halloween can bring many parents. For those families dealing with diabetes for the first time, the stress of trick or treating with diabetes can be greater than dealing with the challenges of Christmas.

Children are invited to Halloween parties.  There are Halloween events at school and there is the inevitable night of trick or treating.  What do you do with all of that sugar?? Well here are a few things that have helped some parents get through.

Eat while they walk

Its okay to let your child eat candy while he/she is out trick or treating. In fact, go ahead and encourage it (as long as usual Halloween safety rules are applied of course–Mom/Dad checks candy or it is from the home of a good family friend).  All of the walking, running and general excitement will most likely lead to some serious low blood sugars.  You can help to avoid this by letting your child eat the bars, rockets (Smarties for my US friends) and other treats. Your child will feel “normal” and it will be a fun way to keep blood glucose levels in range.

Halloween treats are great from treating lows when you have diabetes

Halloween is the perfect time to stock up on low supplies. It offers fabulous 15-gram packs of sugar just perfect to carry in your bag and treat lows. In fact, even if your child doesn’t take part in Halloween events, you may want to head to the grocery store during this time to grab a few bags of low treats and save a few dollars! They tend to be a lot cheaper than buying glucose tablets from the grocery store.

halloween treats at mealsMake Halloween treats part of a meal

If you like to stick to a set meal plan, you can still add in some of your child’s Halloween treats. A bag of chips is equivalent to a bread exchange. A snack-sized chocolate bar is the equivalent of a fruit exchange.  For a treat, allow your child to have one of their Halloween items as part of a meal or snack.

Buy the candy back

Some families offer their children cash for their candy.  The children can then take the money that they earned collecting candy to purchase a book, game or favourite toy.  Mom and Dad can take the candy to work or save it to enjoy during some downtime when the kids are in bed!

The Great Pumpkin

Have the Great Pumpkin or Halloween witch come to visit.  Much like buying the candy, parents will exchange the candy while the child sleeps.  In place of their loot, the child will receive a movie pass, book or other treats that don’t involve food.

Donate it

Yet another way for our children to learn care and compassion is to take their candy to a local hospital or hostel. Have them share their candy with children who are unable to go out for Halloween.

Halloween is often a fun time for children. Remember that children with diabetes are children first.  Use some of the tips above to ensure that your child has a fun and memorable Halloween or let us know what works for you in the comments!

Its too hard to count every calorie…or is it?

We are coming to that time of year when many of us will be making New Year resolutions.  I don’t do resolutions but I have decided on a few goals for 2016.  One of them is to get rid of that spare 15 pounds that plagued me all last year.

I have realized that there a variety of factors that have gone into my weight gain–change in activity levels as well as…cough…cough…age.  I therefore decided to look outside the box for you to have some new weight loss tips and to know how to lower your unhealthy cholesterol.

After almost 16 years of having diabetes in the house, I have a pretty good idea of nutrition.  While I no longer have a massive driveway to clear of snow each winter, I make sure that I use the treadmill we have on a regular basis with a decent intensity.  As I said, that has not been enough so I have purchased a few books to look for other theories and alternatives.

For some reason I chose Dr. Phil’s 20/20 diet book to read.  I won’t say if its good or bad because after almost 100 pages, I still have no real idea as to what his diet and exercise plan will entail.  What did strike me was repeated reference to what it won’t entail….

“juggle Tupperware containers all day with “mini-meals”  that you weighed and calculated, you might as well quit your day job,  because your diet becomes practically a full-time job!” (from The 20/20 Diet by Dr. Phil McGraw)

He talks about how unrealistic and unsustainable it is for a person to count calories every day at every single meal.  As I was reading along, I also saw that he mentions that he has insulin resistance and diabetes.  I then began to laugh a little.

While I agree fully that counting every single calorie and weighing every single morsel of food is a challenge, it’s not an option for a person living with Type 1 diabetes. Well it is but the alternative of not doing it is lethal.

I was reminded of this again after a recent visit with my son.  He sat on the couch with a bag of chocolate covered jube-jubes.  He was eating candy after candy, enjoying the super sweet taste and giving us a review of each morsel.  I was reminded how easy it is for the average person to simply mindlessly eat.  In my son’s case, he had to count every single candy that entered his mouth.  He then had to multiply it by the carbohydrates in each candy.  Finally he would input it in his pump to have the proper amount of insulin delivered to his body.

Dr. Phil was right in part, weighing, measuring and calculating can be a fulltime job.  However, if you live with Type 1 diabetes, carb countit’s a job that you do not have the option of quitting any time soon.

How much do you figure I should bolus?

The other night I received this picture from my son.

My arteries :o

After my arteries recovered from the shock of seeing all of that fat, I turned to the question that my son had sent.

“How much do you figure I should bolus for the fish cakes?”

How high were you before you started?

“Oh, I have that covered.”

Did you pre-bolus the burger and fries and extend the bolus as well?

“Yep! Gotter dun. What are you thinking on the fish cakes?”

They are massive! That is a lot of potato in each cake.

“True.”

We continue to discuss what we felt constituted a proper bolus for the fish cakes.  My thought was there looked to be about 1.5 cups of potato per cake so he would want to bolus a minimum of 90g CHO for the pair.  He agreed.

I can’t tell you if we guessed correctly or how he managed with the extended bolus for the rest of the “meal”.  Finishing year-end English assignments required to pass grade 12 were much more important.  Its kind of nice when we can put diabetes in the back seat to regular life for a change!

The WAG King

“Did you bolus for that?”

“No its Christmas. I am not bolusing for Christmas. I decided that I need a vacation.”

“Funny…NOT. How much are you going to bolus for that? Do you even know how much you ate?”

“I am thinking that 60 sounds good. I like it. I think I will bolus 60.”

“Have you actually totaled what you ate to get to that number?”

“No. It just sounds good.”

At this point I mentally groan and begin to do the calculations….”You had potatoes, dressing, some carrot, a glass of milk, and then there was the pie.”

“Don’t count the pie. I just bolused the pie. The pie is covered.”

“Okay so your main meal.  That would be about 58g CHO.”

“See I told you 60!”

Darn, he still has it. He can still make a complete guess on a meal and manage to come within grams of what I would think the carb count for the meal would be.  The WAG King holds his throne for another day.

IMG_0090
No this wasn’t his 60 CHO meal honestly 🙂

Carb Counting King

Thank you to everyone who offered kind words and support after my post the other day.  The day proceeded to get a little worse but in a way that had nothing to do with diabetes and managed to bring things into perspective for both of us.  Each day will bring new challenges and as a parent, I have to work at letting go and saying just enough without making him feel as defeated as he did on Wednesday.

Not all days are that dark or frustrating however.  Over the past week we have had a new competition of sorts going on.  When my son and I eat together, he will usually wait for me to give him the carb count for his meal.  He is more than capable of doing this on his own and does a decent job when he is away from me, but when we eat together he enjoys the break…or so I thought! Now I think I am just a source of amusement for him.

I came to this realization the other day.  I analyzed his meal.  I totalled carbs, subtracted fiber, guesstimated weights, and after a number of minutes came up with a total.  He then said “I could have told you that without all of that work.”  I laughed at him and said “yeah right!” and so the battle lines were drawn.

He swore that while I added, subtracted and multiplied, he just “knew” what he needed to bolus.  As the competition began, I would no longer say the carb counts out loud (which I do both to help him learn and to bounce ideas off of him).  I quietly would get my total and then ask him for his.

The first time we did this I grinned as I asked him his total. It was a large meal and there was no way to just look and know.  He replied “129”.  My jaw dropped as that was the exact calculation that I had arrived at.  Darn, maybe he was onto something!

We did this a few more times–smoke rising from my ears as I did the math, and the calm coolness of Mr. “I just know”.  He was usually within 5g of carbohydrates.  I had taught him well or he eats the same on a regular basis but these meals were not his usual fair.  I was impressed.  His super carb counting skills came to a crash last night however.  I asked him his guess while knowing the answer.  He came up over 100 carbs too high!

I told him that he had just overdosed himself. Mom wins! He just shrugged in his usual manner and vowed to win the next round.  We may have our downs but strange diabetes games like this bring smiles to both of us and make me feel a whole lot better because I see that he really is learning.  crown