Now that store aisles are jam-packed with the stuff, I really have to speak out about the abundance of unnecessary yet tempting snack-sized treats.
There is no worse time to be a child with diabetes. As I was diagnosed with the disease at the age of five, I can't really recall a time when I could enjoy Halloween as a free-flowing candy lovefest. For the first Halloween that comes to memory, I didn't really clue in to what was going on. I just had a really neat Little Red Riding Hood costume and the neighbours all seemed really happy to see me. Mom insisted on holding the bag of goodies so I wasn't sure what the "old people" were handing out.
Then I realized that Halloween was all about the acquisition of CANDY
. And candy was one of the food groups that weren't at my house anymore. I knew that because I looked everywhere
. Even Captain Crunch had found a new address.
Every October 31 was celebrated by my parents rummaging through my full pillowcase, leaving me with a small pile of raisins, sunflower seeds and non-razor-bladed apples. Mom and Dad would pick over the Snickers and licorice while I gnawed on stale sultanas.
As I got older, I started requesting costumes that had pockets
. All that did was force Dad to wrestle me to the floor while Mom searched me better than any customs inspector ever could. She even found the stuff I had in my socks. Rats.
So I had to take it to the next level and eat as much as I could
while trick-or-treating. It was my only chance to enjoy all of that yummy candy. Too bad it made me feel nauseous and sometimes resulted in a trip to the hospital.
Remember, this was back in the late 1970s when diabetes management meant an extremely restricted diet and not a lot of fun. I even drank the original Tab voluntarily. Scary stuff. Things are much better for kids today. They can have whatever they want - well, within reason, and as long as they account for it somehow.
Now don't get me wrong, I think everyone should be able to enjoy Halloween. But why has the universe responded so quickly to meeting the needs of children with nut allergies when kids with diabetes still have to deal with the abundance of carb-rich candy every October? Are peanut-free candies really the answer?
Heck, even a healthy pancreas gets a major workout when you have a few bags full of M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls and Mars bars hanging around in your bedroom, kitchen or back pocket.
The solution: non-edible Halloween treats
Ever since the DH and I moved into our house, we decided to only hand out toys for Halloween. Cars, pencils, crayon packs, games, glow-in-the-dark rings and other nifty items. Ah, you're thinking we must have won the lottery, right? Nope, we just shop at the dollar store.
For a little more than a bag of chocolate bars, you can pick up the equivalent number of small toys. Just stick to the party favours section and get items in multiple packs. Cars are usually six or eight for a buck. What a deal!
Now kids refer to our place as the toy house. Some even show up a few times. The best part is seeing the look on their faces when the toy lands in the bag. It doesn't sound like anything else they've gotten so far, so they end up peering into the bag, either on the porch or once they get back to the sidewalk just to check out the new arrival. I love it when I hear "Mom, I got a toy!"
A number of parents have complimented us for handing out something their children can enjoy without worrying about an allergic reaction or dental work.
Older kids get pencils and miniature skulls. Or a bag of attitude if they have five o-clock shadows. And that's the girls.
Make your Halloween treats safe for children with allergies, diabetes or other dietary restrictions and hand out something they can't eat. Unless they really want to eat the toys, but that's not something I can help you with. Just keep them away from my furniture.
Before you go thinking I'm a saint, don't. I still buy Halloween candy... for the DH and I to enjoy. I just try to stick to only one a day. Okay, maybe just ten...