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Food/Diet

Diabetics 365 – Halloween and Diabetes, a Spooky Combination

Halloween can be a fun time for parents and kids. But if you have a kid diagnosed with diabetes, it can bring a set of added challenges. Halloween brings costumes, parties, decorations, games, and of course, candy. On average, Americans purchase over 600 million pounds of candy on Halloween day.

As a parent, you want your child to have a fun and “normal” Halloween. Diabetes should never stop them from enjoying the spooky festivities. With a little planning and communication, you and your kids can have a fun-filled Halloween.

Planning Ahead

There are a couple things you want to make sure you child understands leading up to October 31st. Reassure them that even with diabetes, they will still get to eat candy like their friends. At a young age, feeling “left out” or “different” because of diabetes can create self-esteem issues.

You should also tell them the importance of smart candy eating. Place a few guidelines for their candy eating:

  • No candy before we get home
  • You can only eat it after we have gone through all the candy
  • Only 1 or 2 pieces at a time
  • No “sneaking” candy

These are all rules that parents of non-diabetic children would set. You can use this time as a teaching tool to show the importance of watching what you eat.

Pack a healthy snack for your child if you plan to do a lot of walking while trick-or-treating. Don’t let them start eating their candy. It is hard to keep track of levels while you are busy trick-or-treating.

Ways to Avoid the Candy Binges

When most parents think of Halloween, they think of their children stuffing their faces with candy for the next two weeks. There are easy ways to keep your child from drowning in their candy buckets.

After Halloween, you will probably have tons of leftover candy, its better if you try and get rid of it. Let your child pick out their favorites and set those aside. You can take the rest and put it in bags to treat lows throughout the rest of the year, or get rid of the candy entirely.

If you decide to great rid of those tons of sugary sweets, there are some better ways than putting it all in the trash.

  • You and your child can donate the leftover candy to a children’s hospital or to other good causes.
  • Let your child “trade-in” the candy for a toy, book, or family outings like going to a movie or bowling.
  • Find a local dentist that participates in the “Halloween Candy Buy Back”, which sends donated candy to troops overseas.
Fun Alternatives

For most kids, candy isn’t the best part. Talk to you child and see what they are most excited about. Help make your child’s Halloween memorable by creating other non-candy related activities.

  • Make your costumes together (include comfy shoes)
  • Host your own Halloween party for your kid’s friends
  • Make healthy Halloween themed snacks
  • Carve jack-o-lanterns together
  • Watch Halloween movies together

When your kids are older, they won’t remember the candy they weren’t allowed to eat. They will remember the fun times you had with them.

Know Your Candies

All candies aren’t created equal. Don’t just let your child eat “three pieces of candy”, make sure you know what/how much candy your child is going to eat. Take some time to do your research on which candies you should avoid.

Always steer your child towards the “snack” or “fun” sized candy bars instead of the full sized ones. Because they are half or a quarter of the size, they contain significantly less sugars and carbs. Almost every delicious candy bar has a snack-sized version.

Look for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. In most cases, dark chocolate has a higher amount of cocoa, which results in a lower sugar content. Most chocolate bars offer a dark chocolate alternative.

Suckers and other hard candies are a great option for diabetics. These candies take longer to eat and can help satisfy the sweet tooth.

Diabetics 365 – Tailgating with diabetes

Tailgating: To participate in a tailgate party, usually before a sporting event.

Football season means that a lot of you will be going to football games and tailgating in the parking lot before. Tailgate parties are a perfect time to catch up with your old friends and make new ones. But tailgate parties and diabetes don’t always mix. There are a few things you should keep in mind as you gear up for football season.

The Food
One of the most important parts of any tailgate party is the food. People come for the friends, but they stay for the food. Tailgate parties always have delicious foods: fried chicken wings, nachos, hamburgers, french fries. Or in other words…. everything that can ruin your glucose levels.

Don’t get swept into the tailgating frenzy. Say no to that football shaped sugar cookie. But don’t think your diabetes is going to keep you on the sidelines of the party. You can still eat the game day food without the game day carbs. If you aren’t the one organizing the party, offer to help bring some food. With a few simple substitutions, you can be MVP of the party.

Nachos
Replace the tortilla chips with healthier multi-grain chips, or try taking pita bread and making your own chips. Pita bread is a low-fat bread, which makes it perfect for diabetics.

Instead of using fatty ground beef, use lean turkey meat. Most of your friends won’t taste the difference.

Top the nachos with lettuce, a moderate amount of salsa, and a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream. TOUCHDOWN!

Burgers
If your buddies want to get the grill out, there are ways for avoiding those grilling penalty flags. Instead of fatty meat, put a lean turkey burger on the grill! Slap that in between a whole-wheat bun, add lettuce, tomato, and mustard then enjoy.

French fries
Bring a container of your favorite hummus and veggies to substitute for french fries. It’s a great alternative, and everyone loves hummus. You can also enjoy a small bag of baked or kettle cooked chips with your burger.

The Drinks
Most tailgates consist of various beers and mixed drinks. Once again…. everything that can make your blood sugar go out of bounds. Before drinking any alcohol, consult your doctor to assess the risks. But if you are going to drink, there are a couple rules you need to follow:

  • Try and limit your alcohol consumption to 2 servings a day.
  • Make sure that you never drink on an empty stomach (but with all the delicious food, how can you have an empty stomach?). Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to severe hypoglycemia.
  • If you are going to drink beer, aim for the light beers.
  • For mixed drinks, choose coke-zero or any other zero calorie drink.
  • Drink a lot of water.

Remember that the more you drink, the easier it is to have another. Be mindful of your glucose levels. It is easy to join in the tailgating fun and forget to check you levels.

If you choose to skip the alcohol altogether, bring some delicious alternatives that everyone can enjoy.

  • Iced Tea
  • Flavored water
  • Sodas like Coke-Zero
  • Sugar-free lemonade

The Games
It is easy to get comfortable in a chair and stuff yourself full of tailgating food. A great way to balance the carbs is by playing a tailgating game or two. Throw a football with your friends, walk around and look at other tailgates, play a fun tailgating game like cornhole, ladder golf, or horseshoes. Even helping clean up can burn off some of the tailgating food.

Don’t fumble your diet because football season is back. Designate someone as your tailgating referee. Tell them to keep an eye on what you eat and drink. If they see you trying to finish off the rest of the chips or sneak a couple extra cookies, they can throw the flag on you. This is a great way to prevent you from eating just because it’s there. If you get hungry again before the game starts or during halftime, some unsalted peanuts or a fruit tray is a great snack on game day.

Diabetics 365- Grocery Shopping

For a newly diagnosed diabetic, grocery shopping can be confusing. The list of “do’s and don’t” seem to be miles long. It is hard to remember what you can and can’t eat. With the millions of options on each aisle, it is easy to become overwhelmed. There are a few grocery shopping tips to make the task easier.

  1. Understand what you need to avoid

The most important part of shopping with type 2 diabetes is learning what you shouldn’t eat. There are a lot of foods that can seem like good options but are awful for your health. As a rule of thumb, there are a few items that you need to avoid:

  • White Breads and white rice – these are full of refined starches that act like sugar when digested.
  • Potato chips and french fries – both are high in saturated fats and contain a large amount of starch.
  • Sodas and flavored coffees – both drinks are full of sugar that can make your glucose go through the roof.
  • Sweets and candies – this one is obvious.
  • Fruit juices – even juices that are “100%” fruit juice contain a lot of sugar.

Non-diabetics should avoid most of these as well. These foods have little nutritional value and can cause spikes in blood sugar. You can still enjoy them on occasions and in small portions.

  1. Look for the healthier option

While you have to avoid a lot of foods, there are tons of delicious options that you can enjoy.

Instead of buying the bag of potato chips, reach for carrots or celery. Both of these are excellent options for healthy snacking. Both are excellent when you get the craving to snack in-between meals. If you don’t love the taste, try dipping them in hummus or a non-fat yogurt dip for extra flavor.

You might be disappointed when you have to skip your favorite dessert at the store. Instead, try buying Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruits or almonds. A low-fat yogurt can satisfy that sweet tooth without making your spiking your blood sugar.

Avoid the sugary sodas and fruit juices by buying flavored waters. Most grocery stores carry a wide assortment of flavored waters that are delicious without the sugar. You can create your drink at home by adding your favorite fruits to a glass of water.

When you are choosing your proteins, go to the seafood aisle. Fish contains low amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. Seafood is an excellent source of proteins and omega acids.

  1. Read the labels

Just about every label you see in the grocery store says, “lower sodium,” “organic”, or “less fat” but that doesn’t mean that these foods are a good option. Marketers are notorious for making foods appear healthier than they are. Most of these foods are not good for you. The best way to healthy grocery shopping is by taking the time to read the labels. The FDA requires companies to list every ingredient.

This sounds time-consuming, but the more you do it, the quicker you will be at spotting what’s important. You should focus on the serving sizes, carbohydrates, sugar, and the amount of fiber and fat. Eventually, you will know your food labels by heart.

  1. Make a list and do your research

Decide what you want to cook before you make your list. Check your refrigerator, pantry, and cabinets to see what you already have. Doing this prevents you buying something you already have.

Writing a list helps you avoid getting those sugary items that you don’t need. This benefits your health and your wallet.

After you’ve made your list, research the healthiest brands before you go to the store. A few simple Google searches can save you time in the aisles. If you know you need a certain food, use your search engine to see which one is the best for diabetics.

 

If the idea of shopping with diabetes overwhelms you at first, there are “diabetic shopping lists” that have been created to make the grocery store trips easier. These lists contain all the “must-haves” when controlling your type 2 diabetes. Most lists include which items you should find a “no salt” or “sugar-free” option.

Grocery shopping with diabetes doesn’t have to be painful. You can still find healthy and delicious options while maintaining your diabetes.