Halloween: Trick or Treat!

Since Halloween is just a few days away, I thought it worthwhile to raise the issue of both the tricks and treats of managing diabetes on this scary day. And no, this week’s posting isn’t just for kids.

How many of you:

  • Sort through your child’s trick-or-treat booty to make sure it’s safe, only to find that you’re squirreling away a few Hershey bars or Almond Joys for yourself?
  • Go to Halloween parties?
  • Stock up on candy corn because it only comes out once a year?
  • Nibble on leftover Halloween treats at the office?

It’s okay to admit that you like candy. Sure, we all know that eating too much candy isn’t good for any of us, diabetes or not. But gone are the days when people with diabetes were practically forbidden to swallow anything that contained sugar. What we’ve learned over the past 20 years or so is that sugar is a type of carbohydrate (or “carb”), just as starch is a type of carb. All carbs, with the exception of fiber, get broken down into glucose in the body. Our bodies then use this glucose for fuel.

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Now, of course, the goal is to eat “healthy” carbs, such as whole-grain bread, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are loaded with fiber and other important nutrients. And many of the sources of healthy carbs have a low glycemic index, which means that they many not cause as large a “spike” in your blood glucose level after eating compared to more refined carbs.

So, armed with the knowledge about how carbs affect your blood glucose and how much carb you need to stay healthy and keep your own diabetes (and your weight) in good control, you can decide if you’d like to use some of your carbs for a Halloween “treat.” The “trick” here is to:

  • Know how much carb is in your treat(s)
  • Know how much carb you’re allotted for a meal or snack

Let’s take a look at some favorite Halloween goodies and how much carb they contain.

Almond Joy, miniatures
Serving Size: 2
Carb (grams): 16

Butterfinger, fun size
Serving Size: 1
Carb (grams): 14

Hershey with Almonds, snack size
Serving Size: 2
Carb (grams): 18

Kit Kat, snack size
Serving Size: 1
Carb (grams): 10

Milky Way, fun size
Serving Size: 1
Carb (grams): 12

M&Ms, fun size
Serving Size: 1 bag
Carb (grams): 13

Nestle Crunch, fun size
Serving Size: 2
Carb (grams): 19

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, snack size
Serving Size: 2
Carb (grams): 9

Snickers Bar, fun size
Serving Size: 1
Carb (grams): 11

Candy corn
Serving Size: 11
Carb (grams): 18

Dots
Serving Size: 6
Carb (grams): 18

Junior Mints
Serving Size: 8
Carb (grams): 18

Tootsie Rolls, midgees
Serving Size: 3
Carb (grams): 14

Remember that 15 grams of carb is considered “one carb serving” or “one carb choice.” Also, remember that the choice is yours. You might decide that eating 11 pieces of candy corn (which really isn’t all that much) isn’t worth the 18 grams of carb when you could eat about 3 cups of popcorn or a small apple. And candy generally contains more calories and fat than other, healthier snacks, so if you’re watching your weight, go easy with the treats. Limit yourself to one “fun size” treat if it’s chocolate you crave. Tell your kids to hide their candy from you, give any leftovers away, or store them in the freezer for an occasional treat long after Halloween is over. As long as you celebrate this spooky holiday just once a year, allow yourself a little treat without feeling too wicked!

Happy Halloween!

  • honey man

    hi, im wondering about honey ? i have type-2. is honey ok as a sugar?

  • acampbell

    Hi honey man,

    Honey is a type of sugar, just as sucrose (better known as table sugar) is a type of sugar. Many people believe that, because honey is more “natural”, that it somehow doesn’t affect blood glucose levels. However, honey actually contains a few more calories and grams of carbohydrate than sugar, so there’s no real advantage to using this over sugar. One tablespoon of honey contains 65 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrate, which is about the same amount of carb in one slice of bread or one small piece of fruit. You can use honey in your meal plan, but you do need to count the carbs!