It’s trick or treat time again. With a little planning you can make sure your children don’t turn into little scary monsters this Halloween!! So what is Halloween which is celebrated on the 31st October, all about?
Halloween or it’s Gaelic name, Oíche Shamhna is mentioned in the earliest recorded Celtic history. It was regarded as the end of the season of light and the beginning of the darker season. It had more significance than New Year.
On Oíche Shamhna communities got together to light ceremonial fires to celebrate the gathering of the harvest, animals being brought back from the mountain or faraway fields and to ward off evil spirits. The fires were put out (to signify the finish of the old year/harvest) and new fires were lit ceremoniously by druids (to welcome the new harvest year). At that time darkness was seen as the beginning of the day and Winter was the beginning of the new harvest year. It was thought that the souls of people who had died would return to their homes on that night so that their spirits could be released. Some households left food, usually a cooked potato dish as a sign of hospitality to their departed relatives.
It was also seen as a time when evil spirits abounded. If the crops weren’t harvested it was thought these evil spirits or fairies would destroy them. People dressed in scary clothes and masks, like witches to scare off the evil spirits. Storytellers in communities added to the drama by telling scary stories.
Since earliest times apples and nuts featured in Halloween celebrations. Unfortunately, Halloween has become commercialised and many people have no idea that it is anything other than a day (or week) to eat lots of sweets.
Get the family on board to celebrate Oíche Shamhna in a healthier way this year!
- BBQ’s aren’t just for Summer! If the weather isn’t too bad, why not have a Halloween BBQ? Coats and hats and fun outside in the dark (or earlier for small children)……. Fire is very traditional for Halloween. Many people have sheds or garages that could be used for the evening. Not for the BBQ fire itself though! If the kids are on mid-term break they could research Halloween traditions and get their own ideas how to bring some tradition into the evening. they could help with ideas and planning. Branches, leaves, nuts, fruit and vegetables all add to the scene. Making lanterns from pumpkins is an American idea and is a bit messy but if they are done outside its fine.
- Now is the time to get out those black, brown or orange dishes that are at the back of the cupboard! Black pots or casseroles can take the place of cauldrons which were used to cook food over open fires. Cook baked potato in the oven and serve them outside from the ‘cauldron’. Either home made or good quality butcher’s beef burgers and sausages will go down a treat, especially at this time of year when we thought BBQ season was long over. If you can’t manage the fire outside theme, why not cook indoor but eat outside? Include some active games to get the evening off to a good start.
- Kids can help with the cooking and baking. This can be very simple. Give them a few hints and let them come up with their own ideas.
Tortillas or wraps. Make up the filling or bowls of ingredients before hand. Serve inside or outside and let everyone help themselves (within reason!).
Baked pumpkin, squash or sweet potato wedges go down a treat. https://theartisandiabetic.ie/recipe/sweet-potato-wedges/
Pink water melon is popular with children of all ages. These can be decorated or carved and cut up and eaten later.
Tips for trick or treating & Halloween parties for children with type 1 diabetes:
- Don’t give in to supermarket campaigns to get you to fill your trolly with ‘Halloween junk food’.
- Try to get the child to eat a meal containing protein, a small amount of slow release carbohydrate and a healthy fat before the party.
- Don’t forget to add pumpkin to stews, spaghetti bolognese etc. Pumpkins and squash give slow release carbohydrate. Children may be more inclined to eat a healthy meal if they know there is pumpkin in it (which is Halloween related).
- Decide on a system to keep track of what is eaten so that the correct (as best you can) amount of insulin can be given. Examples are, counting the wrappers and check the carb content, not eating sweets until they get home (good luck with that) or the child decides which sweets he/she will have and the rest are taken out of sight (and preferably binned). It’s much easier to pick one or two types, find out the carb content per quantity and give the appropriate insulin. Pick whichever will work for you and the child. Involve the child in the planning.
- Test blood glucose often. Be careful of giving extra quick acting (Bolus) insulin for high sugar levels if there is still some quick acting insulin active in the system. If you don’t know how long your child’s insulin lasts, now is the time to find out. Check the label, your pharmacist or your Doctor. Most quick acting (Bolus) insulin last for 3 to 4 hours. If a lot of sweets are eaten and you keep topping up insulin the child may well end up with overlapping insulin which will result in a low hypo despite all the sweets eaten. The joys of T1…….
- Sweet fizzy drinks are a definite no-no. They aren’t part of the normal trick or treat haul so if they aren’t kept at home the temptation is removed. Provide unsweetened squash if the child won’t drink water. Water can be jazzed up by adding fruit with cut out faces and other ‘scary’ things. Make sure any non food items you add to the squash or water are washed and suitable for the purpose (they have to have the CE mark if they are toys).
- A few badly managed days around Halloween can cause blood glucose issues for many days afterwards so it’s best to plan before Halloween arrives. Keep this in mind when shopping as well. Don’t buy junk food. Buy whatever treat has been decided by the child. It’s as easy as that. If you expect trick or treaters to call, store their treats in an ‘out of sight’ location. Keep in mind that most parents don’t want their children eating lots of junk food either.
- Nuts don’t contain carbohydrates so won’t affect blood sugar. If a lot of them are eaten the fat in them will turn to carbs, so small quantities are best. A small quantity of them will also slow the rate that the sugar from other foods. Nuts shouldn’t be given to small children. Peanuts are associated with Halloween but are the most problematic nuts for allergies.
- Place more emphasis on children’s games and having fun and less on eating unhealthy sweets. Chocolate is a better choice than sugary sweets, most of which have very questionable ingredients.
- Exercise will help to deal with some of the extra sugar consumed at Halloween. Again match the activity and sugar consumed with insulin as best you can.
- Bin surplus sweets and any with torn wrappers, either up front or discreetly.
- Most of all; Have a fun Halloween!
I consulted the following website before writing this post. I wish to thank them for the information they have provided, which has refreshed my memory! It’s well worth checking them out.