• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 167 other followers

  • Noshing on

    Happy 2019! It's a new year--time for a restorative. Me? Bok choy broth with tofu for lunch. The purple tinge is not your hangover talking to you--I added purple and gold "black" carrots to the bowl and it got a little Rose Parade on me.

  • Recent Posts

  • Contents

  • Archives

  • Copyright, Disclaimer, Affiliate Links

    Copyright 2008-2019Slow Food Fast. All writing and images on this blog unless otherwise attributed or set in quotes are the sole property of Slow Food Fast. Please contact DebbieN via the comments form for permissions before reprinting or reproducing any of the material on this blog.

    ADS AND AFFILIATE LINKS

    I may post affiliate links to books and movies that I personally review and recommend. Currently I favor Alibris and Vroman's, our terrific and venerable (now past the century mark!) independent bookstore in Pasadena. Or go to your local library--and make sure to support them with actual donations, not just overdue fines (ahem!), because your state probably has cut their budget and hours. Again.

    In keeping with the disclaimer below, I DO NOT endorse, profit from, or recommend any medications, health treatments, commercial diet plans, supplements or any other such products.

    DISCLAIMER

    SlowFoodFast sometimes addresses general public health topics related to nutrition, heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes. Because this is a blog with a personal point of view, my health and food politics entries often include my opinions on the trends I see, and I try to be as blatant as possible about that. None of these articles should be construed as specific medical advice for an individual case. I do try to keep to findings from well-vetted research sources and large, well-controlled studies, and I try not to sensationalize the science (though if they actually come up with a real cure for Type I diabetes in the next couple of years, I'm gonna be dancing in the streets with a hat that would put Carmen Miranda to shame. Consider yourself warned).

Halloween Candy Carb Guide

Halloween is coming…if you have a diabetic kid, as I do, it’s more difficult than Valentine’s Day to deal with the ups and downs. This year my daughter is in college and making her own decisions, but we’ve been strategizing since her first Halloween with T1D (Type 1 diabetes, the kind that requires insulin round the clock) about how to handle the (several pounds of) candy haul safely without spoiling all the fun.

She will tell you I spoiled it by throwing out one or more pounds (out of 3, more than we even handed out) behind her back a couple of years later, and she still feels ripped off. I will tell you that she eked out at least 2 of her 3 pounds of junk for over a month of getting to eat a piece or two every day with a meal, so what’s she complaining about?

Now of course she prefers actual chocolate, high-percentage, with some actual chocolate flavor instead of light-brown oversweetened waxy mush. But the appeal of trick-or-treating lasted a long time and is probably still going strong.

The point being, people with Type 1 diabetes still like candy and can in fact eat some of it with insulin to cover it, just “in moderation” as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation puts it. In moderation meaning a little at any one time, preferably not on its own but with an actual meal that contains protein and vegetables and fiber to help de-spike it (for Halloween, I suppose I should say, “defang it”). And always with known and limited carb counts and the right amount of insulin to cover it.

Regular candy bars come with nutrition labels and carb counts, and you usually only buy one at a time, but Halloween throws everything off. The little minis and fun-sized and so on? And artificial sweeteners aren’t really the answer, especially not for kids, because there are some emerging health issues. If your kid (or you) have a candy haul with no labels, how do you carb count?

There are three ways to deal and you’ll want them all.

Start with the eyeball method

This is good for when you’re still on the street or at a party, or whenever you don’t have better measurement methods or official info handy…

If it’s a chocolate, the square minis (less than an inch on a side) are about 5 grams of carb apiece, and so are the small wrapped hard candies (“boiled sweets” in the UK) like Brach’s or Kraft peppermints and butterscotch, regular-sized thin 1″ plain lollipops and so on.

The slightly bigger 1 1/2″ long by 1/2″-5/8″ rectangles of standard chocolates are about 8-11 grams apiece.

The JDRF’s annual official guide to Halloween candy carbs

Once you get your haul home, or if you have a smartphone on you, use the official carb counts for any common candies with brand names. The  JDRF Halloween Candy Carb Guide is a PDF list you can print out and stick on the fridge or keep handy on your smartphone. They update it every year to keep it current.

When in doubt, weigh it out

Your best bet for any candy without a label–gummy worms, home-made or unwrapped chocolates, candy-bowl candy, etc.–is to weigh it on a scale that shows grams. Almost anything but sesame halvah (which you’re unlikely to pick up trick-or-treating) will be more than 85% carb by weight. (Halvah is about 50% by weight because it’s half sesame paste, half sugar syrup, but really. It’s kind of the exception.) Regular fudge is similar in texture but in terms of carb, it’s right up there around 90% like most commercial candies.

Most mass-market chocolate candy (i.e., Mars and Hershey, not the high-percentage bars) is 85-95% carb by weight, so if you weigh it in grams, multiply by 0.9 and you’ve got a pretty good estimate at least in reasonable single portions (1-2 pieces of candy, half an ounce or so). Hard candies like peppermints or butterscotch, Jolly Rancher, Lifesavers, etc. are basically 100% carb, so whatever they weigh in grams is the number of grams of carb. Jelly beans and gummy worms are in-between but figure 90-100% carb by weight.

Those percentages are a bit finicky and not everyone needs to know the carb to within a gram or so. If you don’t have a head for math or a calculator handy, just weigh it and figure it’s all carb, keep the portions limited to half an ounce (15-20 grams of candy) and and you won’t be off by more than 1-2 grams of carb.

For more tips on helping a young kid deal with diabetes and candy at Halloween, and more on general carb counting by weight for regular foods, check out the Carb Counts page (or just click the tab at the top of the blog).

%d bloggers like this: