9 tips for celebrating Halloween with diabetes


The fall season is finally upon us, and with it comes a certain kid-favorite holiday: Halloween. There are some steps you can take to enjoy spooky-sweet festivities when your child has diabetes. With a little planning and preparation, you can help manage blood sugar levels successfully. After all, Halloween is a time meant to be filled with scares — but diabetes shouldn’t be one of them! 

Check out these tips for enjoying a sweet and safe holiday this year.

1. Plan Ahead

Whether your child is headed off to a local Harvest Fest, a friend’s home party, or trick-or-treating, make a plan for their Halloween haul. Sit down with them and discuss expectations and limits (such as how many pieces of candy they’ll be able to keep or eat right away) in advance so they know what to expect — after all, nothing sours a fun-filled evening like getting treats taken away unexpectedly! They’ll be more likely to be on board with a plan they helped create, so find out what’s most important to them about the day, and try to work together to meet in the middle so diabetes management can remain a priority.

2. Eat smart earlier

A healthy meal full of high-fiber carbs, protein, vegetables, and fat will help make sure your child is well-stocked with the right nutrients before heading out. If they’re full of the good stuff, they’ll be less likely to overindulge on treats. Plus, a full stomach will help prevent any drops in blood sugar if they’re going to be doing a lot of running around. Another tip? Avoid snacking until you’re home, so your child can dose the correct amount of insulin to cover the carbs in the candy they’re about to eat.

3. Keep an eye out for teal pumpkins

The Teal Pumpkin Project by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters. Homes with teal pumpkins set out indicate the family has non-food treats available, such as bookmarks, glow sticks, stickers, or other fun toys — great options for anyone looking to celebrate the holiday without too many sweets.

4. Use candy to treat lows

Can you eat candy on Halloween if you have diabetes? The short answer: yes! One fun trick (or treat!) is to separate the fast-acting sugary candy and create a special low box, a stash of non-perishable carbs available to treat your child in the case of a hyperglycemic event — after all, it’s more fun to treat a low with a fun-sized packet of Skittles than glucose tabs! 

Generally, snack-sized candies have about 15 grams of carbs, and, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), chocolate and other higher-fat treats do not work as well for treating lows, so those can be set aside for other purposes. Just follow the 15-15 rule.

5. Pick and personalize

If your child’s likely to return home with more candy than you’d prefer, have them choose their favorite pieces and put them in a bag with their name on it. Apply this tip to all children in the house so the child with diabetes isn’t singled out.

6. Donate the rest

Once your child has picked their favorites, consider donating the rest — it’s a great way to teach your child the importance of giving back while limiting the amount of extra carbs they consume. 

If you’re looking to get it out of the house, consider donating extra candy to:

7. Redefine the word “treat”

Another tip from the ADA is the concept of trading. Some families have children trade in their Halloween candy for a prize, whether it’s a small toy, a movie ticket, or a fun activity like a trip to the zoo, or even cash it in for actual money or a gift card.

8. Limit pieces of candy per day

Teaching moderation is important, and it’s not good for anyone to eat too much candy in a day. Set a rule as to how many pieces of candy your child can eat per day and keep it out of reach of sticky fingers. Including a piece in their school lunch and allowing a piece when they come home as an afternoon snack or after dinner are good ideas. There’s about 25 days before Thanksgiving, so with enough rationing, their Halloween candy might just last them until the next big savory holiday!

9. Think beyond treats

No matter what age your kids are, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween without making candy and sugary treats the stars. Whether you opt for arts and crafts, a costume party, pumpkin carving or painting, watching a scary movie, visiting a haunted house, or going on a hayride, there’s plenty of ways to create lasting memories this holiday.


[Originally published 2015-10-22. Updated 2023-10-23]


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Submitted by april (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

How do I get to having good blood sugars instead of lows? I've had type 1 diabtes since age of 13 in 1986. And also how can I get help in getting my two insulins without paying a lot of money?

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by april (not verified)

Hi April, this sounds like a great question for your healthcare team, as they can provide you with the best advice to meet your individual insulin needs. I would talk with your insurance provider to learn more about your insulin coverage options.

Submitted by Sadie Nilsson (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

When I was young my mom would pay me $0.10 per candy, and it helped me out a lot!

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Sadie Nilsson (not verified)

It's always the little things that make the biggest difference. Thank you for sharing this, Sadie.

Submitted by Kipp Lyons (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Limit sweets carb count, newer insulin pumps count out carb grams and bolus the grand you have eaten.

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I keep those candies called Smarties( just like glucose tabs but smaller) on me, in my vehicle and at home. They are 6 carbs per roll, so 3 rolls and you have 18 carbs to bring your sugar levels back up, sometimes it takes 3-5 rolls depending on how low it is, they work pretty quick and they are cheaper than glucose tabs, they also don't melt in warm weather like skittles or starburst etc. always check your sugar!!

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

Thanks for sharing your helpful tips with us, Chris!

Submitted by Vincent M (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Living with T1D and managing Halloween can be challenging. For me, I choose two items I want to have (thanks, kids) and commit to eating those items only. We donate most of our candy to Treats for Troops to put smiles on the faces of our brace men and women over seas.

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Vincent M (not verified)

Vincent, thank you for sharing your tips for celebrating Halloween with us. It makes me so happy to hear you donate most of your candy to the troops. That’s very thoughtful of you, and I’m sure all of the troops really appreciate your act of kindness and generosity. Have a happy Halloween!

This was very well written!…. so much truth to what you wrote! In my opinion, this is a very important topic. Thank you very much for revealing this topic in full.

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