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Clinic Virtual Visits

Holiday Eating



The holidays is when sugar and carbs like to come out to play - whether we’re preparing for Halloween craziness or looking to buy warm fall drinks, sugar seems to be present in all of our favorite holiday treats. Not to worry! The U-M Pediatric Diabetes team has some tips and tricks to help you stay in range.

Not-So-Scary Halloween

October is a month when sugar and carbs like to come out to play - whether we’re preparing for Halloween craziness or looking to buy warm fall drinks, sugar seems to be present in all of our favorite holiday treats. But, even though your child may have diabetes, it doesn't mean missing out on fun experiences. The U-M Pediatric Diabetes team has some tips and tricks to have a 'not-so-scary' Halloween:

  1. Make a plan. Talk with your child about any concerns you have and invite them to help make a plan for managing their blood sugar during festivities. Check out this Halloween candy carb count guide from Breakthrough T1D (formerly JDRF) to help with insulin dosing!

  2. Eat a healthy, balanced meal ahead of time. Don’t go trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. Be sure to have a meal with high-fiber carbohydrates, vegetables, and healthy protein before heading out. Trick-or-treating involves a lot of walking and extra playing, and a balanced dinner will help prevent low blood sugar.

  3. Portion out candy. Let your child pick their favorite candy and teach them to set an amount to eat each day. Apply this portion size to everyone in the household, not just the child with diabetes. Being overly restrictive can increase the chance that your child will try to sneak food.

  4. Donate extra candy. Did you know you can trade in candy for cash, goods, coupons, or services? Candy buyback programs are held at participating local businesses and dental offices around Halloween time, and the candy collected is sent to troops overseas as a sweet thank you. If you don't have a participating program in your area, you could also suggest your child trade their candy for a toy or a fun activity.

  5. Change the focus. Halloween is more than just candy! There are many other fun activities including costume contests, carving pumpkins, haunted houses, hay rides, and making Halloween-themed snacks.

Not-So-Scary Halloween

Holiday Eating Tips

Around the holidays, there are lots of eating behaviors that can cause blood sugars to rise out of the target range. Check out some of these tips below from DiaTribe's Adam Brown on how to avoid some common issues that may pop up at your holiday gathering.​


Stock up on vegetables and try to eat them first. Eating the veggies first will give your insulin time to start working before you tuck into higher carb dishes. Plus, you have the added benefit of filling up on healthy items which can help curb your appetite from overeating other dishes!


Try to avoid “resolution planning.” The new year may be a chance for a new you, but don't let that be an excuse for unhealthy eating during the holidays! The best time to start a new healthy habit is always today. If you think "I've already been unhealthy today, so I'll start fresh tomorrow", just remember your next dietary choice could be the one that gets you back on track.


Avoid “domino foods.” You know those snacks that once you start, you just can’t stop? Controlling yourself once you start snacking can be much harder than avoiding these foods from the start. If you can’t curb your appetite for salty or sweet snacks, try some healthy alternatives like nuts or sunflower seeds instead!


Pay attention to grazing opportunities. Big family get-togethers are a prime spot for large bowls of snacks like chips, pretzels, or other goodies. You may think “I’ll just have a little”, but making repeated trips without counting the carbs can quickly result in a blood sugar snowball that can get out of control. Put some snacks on a plate or in a smaller bowl so you know how much you’ll be eating and then you can give insulin accordingly.


“Am I really hungry?” Asking yourself this question may stop you from eating out of boredom or just because there is food nearby. If the answer is no, then try to wake your brain up by playing a game, taking a walk, or engaging in another activity further away from the temptation of food.


Bring your own predictable snacks. If you’re not sure what’s on the menu or if you need peace of mind while traveling, pack some bags of dependable snacks with their carb counts labelled on the bag. If you start to go low, it can be handy to have snacks that you know will put you back in target range reliably.

Holiday Eating Tips


Thanksgiving is one of the most food-focused holidays of the year. As we know, no food is off-limits when it comes to managing diabetes, but homemade food from other families and non-stop eating for the whole night might make the holiday stressful. Here are some tips to make Thanksgiving more enjoyable:

  1. Don't skip meals during the day. Eat your breakfast and lunch as usual so you won't be too hungry for dinner. It is harder to make healthy choices when we are too hungry.

  2. Continue to follow the healthy eating plate pattern for your Thanksgiving meals. Have vegetables and fruits like green beans, carrots, and salad filling half of your plate, turkey filling 1/4 of your plate, and healthy grains for the remaining 1/4.

  3. Bring your measuring cups or food scale, or check this graphic for tips on how to use your hand to estimate the serving sizes.

  4. Make sure to check your blood sugar and take insulin before eating. If you don't know the exact amount of carbs you will be eating, try giving insulin 15 minutes before eating to cover at least part of the meal. Also, check out this chart for the carb counts of common Thanksgiving dishes.

  5. Offer to bring vegetables or some lower-carb options. Check out these lower-carb substitutes for some Thanksgiving staples.

  6. Plan for some fun physical activity after dinner. Play an active game like Just Dance, decorate the house for Christmas, plan a scavenger hunt or talent show, or take a family walk if the weather allows. Be creative and make a new family tradition after the big meal!

Enjoy Your Thansgiving!

Holiday Recipes

The holiday season usually means lots and lots of delicious homemade food. If you want to up your carb counting game, make sure to check out our holiday carb counting guide for tips and tricks!

While we believe no food is off limits and family recipes are precious to have for the holiday, some lower-carb options can be tasty and fun too!

Check out these websites for some delicious, kid-friendly, and lower-carb alternatives:

Enjoy Your Holidays!


Regardless if you celebrate Easter, grocery stores show absolutely no shortage of giant chocolate bunnies, candy-filled eggs, and Peeps in the spring time! Like Halloween, it's better to have sweets in moderation rather than skipping them altogether. The harder we try to suppress the craving, the more we crave it. Breakthrough T1D (formerly JDRF) and Beyond Type 1 have a carb sheet for common Easter treats to help with insulin dosing.

One great way to have sweets in moderation is to have 1 to 2 servings along with something high in protein or fiber. T1 Everyday Magic has some very appealing and kid-friendly Easter alternative recipes that are also high in protein. And it's always a good idea to involve children in the cooking process. If they make it, they are way more likely to try it! Even if you are not celebrating Easter, these fun and cute-looking recipe are still worth a try. You can get creative and make them in any shape or decoration that you would like. Also, to continue with pastel-colors for Spring, T1 Everyday Magic also has unicorn-themed recipes that can be great for birthday parties too!

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