Amber Merrick as zombie doctor on Halloween

by Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.

What kind of sadistic monster talks about Diabetes on Halloween…well, surprise surprise, it’s Dr. Amber…aka Debbie Downer.  I will preface this diatribe with a caveat…enjoy your tricks AND treats this Halloween…but, in a way that doesn’t impact your blood sugar or waist-line (or your children’s either).

In March of this year, the World Health Organization issued a statement that we should limit our intake of sugar to <50g per day to avoid obesity and tooth decay.  The WHO’s recommendations cover free sugars such as glucose and fructose, and sucrose or table sugar added to processed foods and drinks. They do not cover sugar found naturally in fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.  Limiting sugar has the added bonus of reducing risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, chronic infections, cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Why is Type 2 Diabetes so bad anyway?  I won’t scare you too much (Halloween joke), but Diabetes can lead to a lot of complications if not addressed, like increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, impotence, kidney failure, blindness and even loss of limbs!

How does eating sugar contribute to weight gain and developing Type 2 Diabetes?

Slide 1

When we eat a sugary meal or snack, a large volume of glucose enters our bloodstream.  As a result, our body releases insulin to tell our cells to take up the sugar/glucose so our cells can use it for fuel.  Unfortunately, the more sugar we eat the more insulin we release.  This extra insulin will then hang out in the bloodstream with no sugar to support.  As a result, the insulin will do a few things…

  1. Contribute to FAT GAIN
  2. Cause hypoglycemia (“Hangry”)
  3. Stimulate further carbohydrate and sugar cravings

And over time, that extra insulin hanging around all the time gets really annoying to the cells.  Like that annoying houseguest that just WON’T LEAVE.  The cells then stop caring about what insulin has to say; they don’t open the door when he knocks, even if he “really has sugar for them this time”.  “Yeah right insulin, we’ve heard it a thousand times”, says the cell.  This is now Type 2 diabetes.

So, how can we treat ourselves this Halloween and not worry about the dreaded FAT GAIN and TYPE 2 diabetes?

By avoiding sugar spikes!

Balanced Protein

When you eat your candy, have it with your meals.  Ensure you eat it with enough:

  1. Protein: 1g protein/kg body weight (try for 1-2 palms per meal)
  2. Fat: about 2 thumbs per meal (coconut oil, butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado)
  3. Fiber: several handfuls of your fave veggies (not including potatoes)

Canadian Diabetes Association also recommends exercise.  Low physical fitness is as strong a risk factor for mortality (dying younger) as smoking.  Also, physical activity can be as powerful as glucose-lowering medication… but with fewer side effects!

Regular physical activity, in conjunction with healthy eating and weight control, can reduce type 2 diabetes incidence by 60 per cent.  Good news!  I would aim for 150 minutes per week of physical activity; some cardiovascular activity (interval sprints, either running, biking, jumping rope or climbing stairs), but with the emphasis on resistance training (building muscle using gravity, resistance bands, weights, or machines).  We are definitely not strong enough as North Americans, and increasing our muscle mass has a very beneficial impact on our long-term health!

Finally, give yourself a limit of candy per meal.  The daily limit of 50g is an easy number to reach, so try to avoid going overboard.  How much sugar is in your favorite Halloween treats you might be wondering…(here are some of my faves…all in mini Halloween sizes of course)

  • Peanut M&Ms – 9g sugar
  • Kit Kat – 6 g sugar
  • Smarties – 6g sugar
  • Skittles – 11g
  • Sour Patch Kids – 10g
  • Twizzlers – 6g

Seems to me each piece is less than 50g of sugar – more good news!

Pick your favorite candy from your bowl of leftovers (or from your kid’s stash) and get rid of the rest.  Have your kid pick their favorites, and give the rest away, or have them exchange it for a non-candy treat, like a new toy.  If it’s in the house, you’ll probably eat it!

So, enjoy some candy this year…but let’s avoid the sugar spikes shall we.  Have a spook-tastic Halloween!

“Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents said, “Never take candy from strangers.” And then they dressed me up and said, “Go beg for it.” I didn’t know what to do. I’d knock on people’s doors and go, “Trick or treat . . . no thank you.” ~ Rita Rudner


Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.
About Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.
Amber Merrick is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor in St. Catharines, Ontario. Amber feels Naturopathy is not only a profession but a lifestyle. She aspires to live a highly energetic and healthy lifestyle. She can coach you to wellness as she has coached countess others.
Amber Merrick as zombie doctor on Halloween
How to enjoy the Tricks AND TREATS this Halloween, while avoiding Type 2 Diabetes