Summary: Is sugary candy like Smarties or Skittles an alternative to juice or glucose tabs for treating low blood sugar in children with type 1 diabetes?
When our child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we stocked up with juice boxes, glucose tabs, cake icing gel, and of course glucagon.
We almost always reach for a juice box when we needed to treat a low.
But then last Halloween during our trick-or-treating excursion, which included both excitement and lots and lots of walking and running, Q went low. He asked if he could have some candy and I reached into his heavy pumpkin-shaped bag and found a treat I thought might be acceptable.
Mind you, though I can name serving sizes and carb counts of hundreds of items in my sleep, I don’t know the carb counts of candies.
Later that night when I sorted through his stash of goodies, I pulled out many items which were high in sugar content and seemed like they would be fast-acting. (Chocolate is usually not recommended to treat lows because the fat content makes it a slower-acting carb.)
I realized that Smarties have basically the same ingredients as glucose tabs, dextrose being the first ingredient. During the next trip to the pharmacy, no doubt to refill one of our many prescriptions, I compared Smarties and glucose tabs side by side. I decided that you get more bang for your buck with Smarties and a whole lot more fun. (One roll of Smarties has 6 grams of carbs.)
(Tip: make sure kids wash their hands before rechecking in 15 minutes. We’ve gotten some crazy high numbers that were a result of Smarties dust on his fingertips.)
So here’s the conundrum: We spend so much time trying to avoid high sugar items for our type 1 kids, yet they need sugar to treat lows.
Do we let them have a little bit of fun by allowing them candy for lows since they can’t eat it freely at other times?
Or should we stick to healthier choices such as juice (which I never had in my house before diagnosis)?
Seeing a number in the 60s on the meter, my kiddo once exclaimed with delight, “Yesss! I can have some candy!”
By treating lows with candy are we sending the wrong message encouraging kids to want to go low in order to eat forbidden candy fruit?
After dealing with diabetes for over a decade, we now use a variety of high sugar, fast-acting carbs to treat lows. And this includes candy!