Halloween Week is here, and despite all the fun festivities that may be on tap, the cold truth for those of us with diabetes is that it can be a very difficult time, when tempting sweets seem to be stalking us -- you know, with grocery store aisles overflowing with candy and bowls set out nearly everywhere we go...
Personally, I do have a sweet tooth (who doesn't?) and when Halloween season rolls around I sometimes feel like Garfield on trick-or-treat morning waking up chanting, "Candy, Candy, Candy!" With that I mean, I'm always on the hunt for any new treats worth trying at this particular time of year -- alongside from my fave candy corn & pumpkin mix, which is extremely helpful during low blood sugars as Halloween season is near (see photo ;) )
Despite my inability to naturally process sugar and produce my own insulin, I actually prefer "regular" candy because -- let 's be frank -- the "sugar-free" stuff too often just seems like a marketing gimmick. I really don't find it to be "D-friendly," for the most part. It may not contain real sugar, but it does contain carbs and those dreaded sugar alcohols that can have a laxative effective. And who are we kidding? It generally just doesn't taste as good.
But there are a couple of new types of sugar-free candy that aren't half bad. We'd like to introduce two choices you might find appealing this Halloween -- with a special giveaway too!
Werther's is a longtime fave for candy lovers, and as you may know they have a new-ish Sugar-Free line of sweets available that's pitched at the diabetes community (they were even exhibiting at this year's annual AADE meeting). Earlier this fall, Werther's unveiled a new chocolate caramel flavor that the company tells us is "widely popular."
The other flavors they've got are traditional caramel, coffee, cinnamon, and apple. They're all about 8 calories per piece, or more importantly for PWDs they have only about 3 grams of carb each (or 14 or 15g per serving of 5 candies).
'Mine editor Amy says she loved Werther's during her non-diabetic days, and was really surprised how good and "authentic" these new lower-sugar versions taste.
Personally, I've only tried the caramel version and find them to be pretty decent. When I was CWD (child with diabetes) back in the 80s and 90s, there really weren't many sugar-free hard candy options and those that were around tasted terrible. They weren't even worth considering as a treat! I'm very grateful that there are so many more options these days, and I think Werther's has a good product worth trying out.
Happily, my own trial-test N of 1 showed that these candies indeed do not spike blood sugars like the regular variety, thanks in large part to the sugar-alcohol substitute used. But in the case of these sucking candies, I didn't experience any of the gastrointesinal discomfort that often follows eating snack bars or baked goods made with said alcohols. I also found that I didn't need a full insulin dose for the 15g of carbs; now if I'm only eating a few pieces I usually count them as "free" and not requiring a food bolus at all -- which is a treat in itself right there!
But, Your Diabetes May Vary. And your preference for candy probably does, too.
On the flip side of long-standing Werther's, there's a new Boston-based candy on the market. It's not specific to diabetes and the whole "sugar free" world, but it is being marketed in part as "diabetic-friendly" and it could be something that PWDs might find tasty enough to try out.
This Unreal Candy (yes, that's really it's name) is the brainchild of Nicky Bronner, who is only 15 and had the idea back at age 13 to try to "unjunk" snacks by creating sweet products with only natural ingredients -- sustainable palm oil, grass-fed dairy, traceable cacao. It is gluten-free, and does not contain GMOs, preservatives, corn syrup, or any other artificial ingredients. Kind of what GlucoLift has done in the glucose tab market!
All of their candy varieties are like healthy knock-offs of popular American candy favorites. They include: "The Gimmie Ones" that are like chocolate M&Ms, "The Nutty Ones" that are like peanut M&Ms, "The Smooth One" that's like a Milky Way chocolate-caramel-nougat candy bar, The chocolate & peanut butter "Double One" that's like Reese's, and "The Loaded One" that's basically a faux Snicker's. The website even touts direct nutritional comparisons between the Unreal Candy version and the real, name-brand version of each variety.
Sadly, we couldn't get a response from anyone at Unreal Candy, but according to their website what makes Unreal Candy "diabetic-friendly" is that it's low on the glycemic index and has the maximum amounts possible of fiber and protein added. Basically, you have far less of a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash after eating their products. The website claims this candy has on average 40% less sugar on a product-to-product basis, and the portion sizes are 15% smaller than the name-brand competition, so you can enjoy the flavor without overdoing it.
For example, here's how Unreal's peanut butter cups stack up to that popular orange-and-brown brand:
While I personally haven't tried this candy, our fellow D-Peep and intern Amanda Cedrone raves about it. She recently moved back to Boston near the new company says she got the chance to try the stuff at the Students With Diabetes conference earlier in the year. "I liked it better than the name-brand stuff it was modeled after. It did taste a lot better to me!" she says. Probably due to the lack of high-fructose corn syrup, IMHO.
So, I'll be gunning to get me some Unreal Candy this Halloween!
Of course, Halloween is about more than just candy, as it should be. My wife and I love seeing the costumed kiddos who come to the door and we usually have our dog Riley dressed up in her own outfit or another (which have been known to include a homemade insulin pump or glucose meter, or even Carby The D-Pumpkin). We also love the scary movies or cartoon features, and it's become our tradition to have those on in the background, whatever we're doing on Halloween night.
Whatever your own Halloween routine may look like, hope it's a "sweet" one -- and here's a giveaway that could make it even better this year!
A DMProducts Giveaway
We're giving away 3 free goodie bags of Werther's candy to a few lucky winners! While it won't be arrive by Halloween, we're hoping it offers a good alternative to left over trick-or-treat candy that may be haunting your house this year!
Here's how to enter:
This time around, your chance to win involves leaving a comment with an answer to the question:
What's your favorite thing about Halloween, and do you have any tricks to share on keeping your diabetes in check during this candy-fest?
Be sure to include the codeword "DMProducts" somewhere in your comment so we know you're interested in the goods.
You have until Friday, Nov. 1, at 5pm PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
Good luck, Ghoolies!
This contest is now closed. Congratulations to D-Mom Marjorie Cooney, who Random.org chose as our giveaway winner! She and her 7-year-old daughter are in for a treat!
But don't worry, all, even if you didn't win this giveaway you can still use the below coupon!
(For those who might want to buy some Werther's, here's a $1 off discount coupon you can print to use in a local store.)