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Halloween Candy and Diabetes: The Trick is Mindful Eating

By Michelle May, M.D.

It’s Halloween and there’s candy everywhere. What’s a person with diabetes to do?

Some people with diabetes think they can’t eat candy. Sugar is a carbohydrate so of course it will raise your blood sugar; all carbohydrates do! But that doesn’t make sugar forbidden. In fact, feeling that you can’t have sugar can lead to feelings of deprivation, craving, and overeating–and that really will impact your blood sugar.

If you love candy, candy can fit into your diet, even if you have diabetes! Let’s put the lessons from Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes into effect!

  • Halloween CandyWith diabetes, you pay attention to how many carbohydrates you consume at each meal or snack so you won’t exceed your body’s capacity to deal with it. (Chapter 2)
  • Experiment to see how much carbohydrate you eat at each meal or snack that will keep your blood sugar in your target range (for most people <180 two-hours after eating). (Chapter 6)
  • You might start by experimenting with 3 to 4 carb choices per meal, and 1 or 2 carb choices per snack. (Each carb choice is approximately 15 grams so that’s 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal, and 15 to 30 grams per snack. (Chapter 11)
  • This is where the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes Plate comes in. Picture all of your carbs in the upper right quadrant inlcuding grains and grain products, starchy vegetables, fruit or juice, milk or yogurt, and sweets. (Chapter 7)
  • Let’s say you typically eat 45-60 grams (4 carb choices) of carbohydrate per meal and you really want to eat mini-peanut butter cups for dessert. (Chapter 9)
  • Halloween candy is usually the perfect size treat. Carb content varies greatly but you can estimate somewhere between 7 and 20 grams per serving depending on the type and size. Nutrition labels or the web will help.
  • According to the nutrition label, the two packages pictured here are one serving and contain 20 grams of carbohydrate, which is just over one carb choice. (Chapter 7)
  • For that meal, you will plan to “save” 20 grams of carbohydrate for your candy; that still leaves room for two other servings of carbs on your plate. (Chapter 11)
  • Since you already plan to have dessert, you might decide to balance eating for enjoyment and nourishment and make your other carb choices healthier. Perhaps you choose brown rice, a whole grain roll, or a sweet potato. (Chapter 23)
  • Mindful eating is about eating with intention and attention. The intention of eating candy is pleasure, right? (Chapter 13)
  • Savor every bite of your candy and don’t ruin the experience with guilt, self-criticism, feeling too full, or tired because your blood sugar is high. (Chapter 1)

Mindful eating teaches you how to make conscious choices that are flexible enough to let you eat what you love, even if  you have diabetes. Yes, even candy!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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