Wil Dubois

Welcome back to our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D’Mine — with your host veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois. This weekend is Easter, so it just stands to reason that Wil's fielding a question about how to choose the "least offensive" sugary treats for someone with diabetes.

Hop on in for details...

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Nicki, type 3 from Oklahoma, writes: Hi Wil! My niece was diagnosed with type 1 last year and I'm at a loss for what to get her for Easter. I've always given her a basket of candies. I talked to my brother (my niece's father) and he says I should go ahead just as I always have, that as long as she takes the right amount of insulin and doesn't eat too much at one time, she can have candy. Still, I don't want to be the cause of any trouble, so I guess my question is: What Easter candies have the least amount of sugar?

Wil@AskD'Mine answers: Good for you for checking in with her father first thing! It always amazes me how many people are hesitant to go to the source of the best information on the planet when it comes to D-kiddos -- their parents!

This forward thinking automatically puts you in the running for the Diabetes Aunt of the Year award. You'll be happy to know the award includes an all-expense-paid luxury trip for two to Aruba.

OK, I hope everybody knows I totally made all that up. The part about the Aruba trip, that is. She still gets my vote for Diabetes Aunt of the Year.

Anyway, moving on. As you've been granted permission to give candy, do so. And I'm here to help you figure out the most D-friendly type of Easter candy, which I grant you, is oxymoronic.

In thinking about Easter candy, there are pretty much eggs, bunnies, and chicks. The chicks and eggs make sense. How the bunnies got into the mix, I have no clue. And I don't even want to think about why bunnies are delivering the eggs. But I digress. All three basic Easter candy forms are available as solid chocolate, filled chocolate, or generally larger hollow chocolate. Chicks and bunnies also come in various marshmallow-like creations, and finally, eggs also come as jelly beans.

Which is higher in sugar? I'll bet most people are placing bets on either the nearly solid sugar jelly bean or the infamous whipped sugar marshmallow Peep (which we addressed in depth last year.) But guess what? On a carb-to-weight basis, all Easter candy is about the same, more or less 22 carbs per ounce.

So if they are all the same, does it matter what you give? As a matter of fact, it does. Because sugar per ounce is only one-third of the diabetes/candy equation.

The next third of the equation is serving size. Because while all Easter candy is the same on a carb-to-weight basis, they vary a great deal in their density, which means one ounce of Peeps looks a lot larger than one ounce of jelly beans. Said another way, which is more satisfying: Ten jelly beans or four Peeps? The carbs are the same. Or you could eat one Cadbury caramel egg. Of course, there's no universal answer to the question of what's more satisfying, so you need to think about your niece's personality. Is she one of those kids who will graze on Easter candy until Halloween, and then finally throw out the rock-hard leftovers? Or is she one of those kids who will eat everything in the basket within 48 hours? If she's a grazer, I think it would be OK to give more sugar-dense candies, if she's a binger, the lighter, fluffier options will be better for her. Also, be sure to consider how her recent diabetes diagnosis might have affected her relationship with food, especially sweets.

The last leg of our Easter triumvirate is, for lack of a better word, the Glycemic Index. I doubt that the index folks have worked out all the numbers on Easter candy, but the fact is that not all sugars are created equal. Candies with chocolate, especially milk chocolate, have more fat than candies that don't have chocolate. The fat has the effect of slowing down the absorption of the carbs in the sugar. This is why chocolate is a bad choice for trying to fix hypoglycemia -- it's too slow-acting -- but it's an excellent choice for sweets for D-folks, as it's less likely to put us into a coma. Most of us will see a slower, lower blood sugar excursion from eating milk chocolate eggs than from eating jelly beans.

For that reason, I'd lean towards a diabetes Easter basket heavy on chocolate, unless of course, your niece is one of those strange kids who doesn't care for chocolate (scientists on Easter Island are researching this rare genetic disorder and say a cure is less than five years away). Be sure to look for high-quality hollow chocolate bunnies and the like. They don't have less sugar per ounce, but being full of air, they take up more room in the basket, making it look fuller than it is.

But the most important factor in all of this is something you probably already know. Does she have a favorite Easter candy? My father loved the Fruit & Nut Egg. It was a one-pound football-sized candy egg that dominated our Easter baskets when I was a kid. I hated them, and I just picked the chocolate coating off. (My pleas to the Easter Bunny went unanswered as I got confused and addressed them all to the North Pole). My point? Don't project what you love on others. I'm not saying you shouldn't expose family kiddos to things you think are awesome, but be sure to observe and pay attention to their preferences over time, and then cater to them on special occasions like this.

So if your niece loves watermelon jelly beans, don't forgo them and just give her chocolate, because I said it's the "healthier" option. Because really, the differences between candies are just shades of grey in a sea of green (fake) grass in the Easter Basket.

Disclaimer: This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.