Special Occasions

Birthday parties
A child’s birthday is one of the highlights of their year and it’s very important that a child with diabetes can enjoy the party as much as everyone else. Most children’s parties take place in the afternoon and the party food can replace the usual mid-afternoon snack. Although it is important not to eat sweet foods regularly you can have sweets occasionally.
However, if your child is being invited to parties on what seems like a weekly occasion it may be a good idea to teach them to make better choices.
Encourage your child to try half savoury and half sweet foods.
Activity levels and excitement will be high and this can often compensate for the increased sugar intake. Encourage the host to provide savoury snacks and low-sugar or diet drinks for everyone.
With all the excitement and activity of a party, the blood sugar levels may also drop and the child could end up having a hypo.
You should let the party’s host know that your child has diabetes and how to recognise and treat a hypo should it occur.

Hosting a children’s party?

Drinks: It is much easier (and healthier) to provide sugar-free squashes and diet drinks for everyone. Nibbles: Provide savoury rather than sweet foods. Kids love popcorn and crisps, nuts (not for under 5s) mini sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, pizza slices and small sandwiches or filled wraps or pitta breads.

Sweet foods: small slices of birthday cake, queen cakes, fun size chocolate bars, ice-cream and sugar free-jelly, fruit slices, grapes. Help your child work the treats into his eating plan, set limits, and stick to them.

Diabetic chocolate
‘Diabetic’ chocolate is not recommended. They are expensive and unnecessary. Diabetic chocolate contains fructose, sorbitol or a similar sweetener which can have a laxative effect. Diabetic chocolate is also just as high in fat and calories as ordinary chocolate, and can still raise blood-glucose levels.

Christmas time
For children it is the most exciting time of year and Santa is on his way to those who have been good all year.
For children the emphasis is more on holiday and presents rather than all the sweet stuff. It just happens that chocolates and overeating has become part of the tradition for everyone. It doesn’t have to be though, remember it’s only one day!
Remember to make the most of eating goodies by staying active. Santa left all those shiny new presents such as bikes and skates for a reason!
With chocolates and sweets, it is better, as part of a healthy diet, to choose a bar that is lower in fat, calories and carbohydrate. This include bars like: Chomp, Curly Wurly, Slim dairy milk and Fudge. This will help you to control your blood glucose and avoid weight gain. Try to only eat a small amount of chocolate after meals to avoid an increase in blood glucose and try not to eat too much chocolate all at once.
Remember that you need 15-20g of carbohydrate for one hour of activity. So be sure to make the most of eating goodies by staying active. If you have written to Santa for a bike, skates or scooter, try to get out and play with them for at least an hour every day. Otherwise get some fresh air by walking with your family for an hour every day over the holidays.

Christmas Recipe
Diabetes Ireland in conjunction with “SPLENDA®, the low calorie sugar alternative” launched a Christmas Recipe leaflet which promotes healthy eating around the festive season. The leaflet includes festive ideas for all meals and tips for a healthier Christmas. Download the leaflet here – Christmas and your Diabetes.

Like Christmas and birthdays it only comes once a year and a little extra at this time will not affect your long-term blood glucose control.
For children with diabetes it is also important that they have a similar egg to their siblings and friends so that they do not feel that their diabetes excludes them from this. On the other hand, adults with diabetes may prefer an alternative Easter present such as flowers, fruit, a book, or a hollow non-chocolate egg filled with small or individual presents.

Halloween is a time of great excitement, of dressing up, pretending to be scary and for the very young being allowed out in the dark with a group of friends to ‘trick or treat’.
It shouldn’t be an anxious time for parents. Get involved with the fun and remember you can spread the treats out over a longer period to treat hypos as needed. It is probably a good idea to discard all sweets that are not individually wrapped. If you are concerned about the number and types of sweets why not plan a party with your child.

Involve your child in making the scary decorations, planning the party games, and setting the table.
Help your child bake and decorate sugar- free cookies with Halloween biscuit cutters that they can share with their classmates and friends.
Dunk for apples, play musical chairs, or twist balloons for prizes
Offer party favours instead of sweets to the children.
Here is a list of delights that you can give out instead of sweets:
• Halloween theme stickers
• Pencils and rubbers
• Small stuffed animals
• Pocket-sized games
• A children’s movie
• Colouring books and crayons
• Sugar-free lollipops and chewing gum
• A children’s magazine or comic book.