Food & Fun

Diabetes doesn't mean doing without your family's traditional holiday treats, birthday parties or outings to your favorite restaurant. With a little planning, a good time can still be had by all!

Planning Ahead

  • Talk to the team. Ask your child's healthcare team how to best cover extra carbs with extra insulin on special occasions.
  • Recruit help. If you aren't planning to be at the event, make sure your child has your phone number and be sure to recruit an adult who knows how to care for a child with diabetes to help out.
  • Ask first. Teach your child to ask, "What's in this food?" if they're not sure what's being served.
  • Look it up. Give your child a handy carb counting guide to take with her. Here's a list of carb counts for many popular Halloween candies.
  • Check it out. Your child's blood glucose (blood sugar) levels should be checked more frequently when off the regular schedule or eating unfamiliar foods.
  • Burn it down. Sometimes exercise helps your body use up glucose so a walk or run can help burn off extra carbs.

Parties

  • Fill them in. Tell the host parents that your child has diabetes. Provide emergency phone numbers for you and your child's healthcare team in case of an emergency. Help them to understand what it means to manage diabetes so that they aren't shocked when your child takes out his meter or insulin pen.
  • Pass it on. Help your child and your host by sharing a healthy treat that your child enjoys and fits within your his meal plan.
  • Volunteer. If your child is young, ask your host if they would like your help. They will appreciate the extra hands and you'll be there to monitor your child's diabetes. Just remember – it's your child's fun time with friends, so try not to hover.

Holidays

  • Slim it down. Chances are Aunt Minnie's Christmas pudding recipe can be slim-lined. For example, use skim versus whole milk, or artificial sweetener instead of sugar. If you do it quietly, your family and friends may not taste the difference, and they'll appreciate fewer calories.
  • One-up the candy man. Fill goodie bags with magic tricks, yo-yos, temporary tattoos, beach balls and dribble glasses.
  • See the bigger picture. Focus on holiday activities rather than foods. For example, get pumped up for the Halloween hayride, Christmas tree shopping or a neighborhood 4th of July Frisbee tournament.

Restaurants

  • Plan ahead. Many restaurants post their menu on their websites. Check the nutrition information and make it a fun activity to plan what you're going to eat before you go.
  • Check the portions. Many restaurants give you more than what you usually eat. Ask the waiter for a box at the beginning of your meal, and eyeball the portion that your child will eat for that meal. Take home the rest for another meal.
  • Last Reviewed: July 25, 2013
  • Last Edited: September 18, 2014

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast