5 less scary but still sweet Halloween tips that empower patients on diabetes prevention

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5 less scary but still sweet Halloween tips that empower patients on diabetes prevention

Monday, October 23, 2017

As Halloween approaches, many families' thoughts turn to fun ways to celebrate the event and what types of sweet treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters. But one problem often gets overlooked: added sugar consumption.

Added sugar, those pesky sugars and syrups built into prepared and processed foods, consumed in excess, contribute to chronic health problems including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), candy is one of the main sources of added sugar in Americans' diet. In fact, the CDC recommends that as part of a healthy diet added sugar be less than 10 percent of total daily calories. However, Americans, ages 6 years and older, consumed nearly 14 percent of total daily calories from added sugars.

To help your patients not overindulge in Halloween candy themselves and help their kids manage added sugar consumption, here are 5 tips to offer them on how to celebrate without overdoing it.

Tip 1: Hand out non-candy trick-or-treat bags.

One effective approach to reducing added sugars during Halloween is not to hand out candy. There are plenty of alternatives to suggest to patients that will deliver a unique Halloween treat that's still fun.

Some recommendations you can offer up include:

  • Bottles of bubbles
  • Crayons
  • Crazy straws
  • Glow sticks
  • Pencils
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos

Tip 2: Provide mini bottles of water with mini flashlights.

Trick-or-treating is hard work and staying well hydrated while kids are out can be helpful. It may not be as fun, but after so many houses, a mini bottle of water may provide welcome relief.

Adding a mini flashlight along with the water may help add back in an element of fun and help keep children safe while out trick-or-treating.

Tip 3: Use leftover candy to do fun, hands-on science experiments.

Not only is deciding what type of treats to hand out tricky, but so is what to do with the leftover candy your patients’ end up with in their homes. Encourage patients to think outside the box and opt not to eat it, but use it instead for science experiments they can do with their children.

There are many online resources such as Pinterest or Parenting.com that patients can find with a simple internet search that make use of candy and support learning as well.

Tip 4: Donate leftover candy.

If having leftover Halloween candy in the house is too great a temptation for your patients, suggest having them donate the candy to a local Halloween candy buyback program.

Patients can search for a program in their area or choose to host a drive themselves. This usually includes nearby physician and dentist offices that collect the candy and then pay per pound for what’s collected. In turn, the treats become part of goodie bags that get sent out to support our troops.

Tip 5: Use leftover candy to decorate items for upcoming holidays.

As the holiday season approaches, patients’ leftover candy can be repurposed and used as decoration to brighten the season.

Some ideas you can offer up to patients on how to make use of it include:

  • Adding it to a gingerbread house
  • Decorating holiday cards
  • Topping gifts and packages

Other treats for physicians to offer patients

While you're talking to your patients about Halloween candy alternatives and what to do with the leftovers, use these tools to help educate them on diabetes prevention and how not to fall prey to added sugars themselves.

  • Download the Prevent Diabetes STAT toolkit to find resources including DPP referral forms, patient handouts and other tools on prediabetes screening and diabetes prevention.
  • Encourage patients to visit doihaveprediabetes.org where they can take a quick and easy online assessment for their risk.
  • Work with patients to identify and refer them to a National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle change program (National DPP) that features lifestyle change tactics including eating healthier.

Of 84 million Americans who have prediabetes, 9 out of 10 don’t know they have it. Since diabetes is a reversible condition, helping patients become aware before it becomes a problem and then take action is vital. Positive lifestyle changes through programs part of National DPP lower patients’ risk for type 2 diabetes and improve their overall health.