Diabetes and Healthy Habits During the Candy Season
Halloween comes with many festive traditions: spooky decorations, pumpkin carving, costumes and trick-or-treating. But for people with diabetes, Halloween can feel like more of a trick than a treat. Candy abounds, but is it safe to indulge your sweet tooth if you are diabetic?
Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to break down or process sugars from food. In people without diabetes, sugars from food are broken down in the body and then insulin is released into the bloodstream to convert those sugars into energy. Those with type 1 diabetes do not make insulin, so it must be added with insulin injections. Those with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don’t process it well enough to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Both types of diabetes put you at risk of developing long-term health conditions such as vision problems or heart disease. How’s that for scary?
If you are diabetic, tracking your carbohydrate intake is often a key tool in managing your blood sugar levels. Controlling your blood sugar levels lowers your risk of the serious conditions associated with diabetes and it will also keep you feeling better in the short term. Too many carbohydrates, especially simple carbs like the sugar found in Halloween candy, can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels following a meal. However, that doesn’t mean that all candy is off limits this candy season! Approaching Halloween with some common sense will allow you to enjoy the holiday without worrying. Here are a few things to keep in mind when partaking:
- Enjoy candy in small quantities and pair it with a larger, well-balanced meal that includes protein and plenty of vegetables to avoid a post-meal blood sugar spike.
- Avoid eating other carbohydrate-heavy foods at the same time.
- Know how many carbs are in the candy you consume. Don’t forget to adjust your insulin needs before eating the candy. Make a plan for treating a blood sugar spike in advance and consider testing extra times if necessary.
While navigating the Halloween candy aisle can seem scary for those with diabetes, the fact is that Halloween is a wonderful time to “treat” yourself. Should candy be a regular part of your diet? Probably not, but that’s true for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Still worried about the sugar in candy? Consider shopping for sugar-free or artificially sweetened candy (although it’s still a good idea to check the label…like a haunted house, no one wants to be caught off guard and spooked from a surprise).
Remember, your tolerance for candy depends on many factors: your body’s insulin response, gender, activity level, age and current blood sugar levels. So, enjoy the Halloween holiday, but do so within a reasonable limit for yourself.