Holiday Treat Carb Counting

Carb Content of Your Family's Favourite Special Occasion Treats - at your fingertips!

Managing type 1 diabetes is challenging enough on a regular day, but how about when "that season" comes around? Mystery treats for Hallowe'en, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter can seriously mess up our best efforts to count carbs. To simplify life with the diabetes dragon, we have collected carb count handouts for the holidays... leaving you time to enjoy and celebrate!

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Valentine's Day Treat Carb Counts

Valentine’s day brings cupcakes at class parties, chocolate hearts from Grandma, and junior high school Candygrams. Unsure of how to carb count for sweet treats at school? Wondering how to account for extras at home? When you don’t have a nutritional label to rely on, here are some handy rules of thumb for counting the carbs in Valentine’s Day treats.

(from the Registered Dieticians at the Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic, Alberta Children’s Hospital)

Cupcakes have 15g of carbs for a plain, medium cupcake (1/24th of a Betty Crocker cake mix), plus 10g of carbs for every tablespoon of icing. For a typical cupcake with about 1 tbsp of icing, that totals 25g of carbohydrates. For one piled high with icing (think: boutique bakery cupcakes) this may mean 35g of carbs or more.

Straight Sugar Candies (hard candy, gummies, suckers and jawbreakers) have a carb factor of 0.9 to 1.0. That is, when you weigh the item on a scale, for every gram of weight the candy will have close to one gram of carbs. For example, a heart sucker that weighs 5g will have about 4.5 to 5g of carbs; a gummy rose weighing 22g will have 20 to 22g of carbs.

For plain chocolate, 0.55 is a rough estimate of its carb factor. That is, if you weigh the item on a scale, there will be just over 1/2g of carbs for every gram of weight. For example, a chocolate teddy bear weighing 50g will have about 28g of carbs; a handful of (plain) Hershey’s kisses weighing 30g will have about 16g of carbs.

Remember to subtract the weight of the stick and any uneaten candy after your child has finished.

Even better than Rules of Thumb...  If you can, check out for accurate carb content on the food label, the company website, or a nutritional app.


Christmas/Holiday Treats

Tis’ the season to be... overwhelmed? If figuring out the carb content of that homemade peanut brittle or the mint hot chocolate from your favourite coffee shop is stressing you out - don’t worry! The dieticians at the Alberta Children’s Hospital have done all the research for you and have prepared this helpful guide for carb counting around the holidays. We find it handy to print it off and stick it on the fridge for easy reference.

(from the Registered Dieticians at the Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic, Alberta Children’s Hospital)

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Printable pdf:
Christmas Treats Handout (Alberta Children's Hospital, Diabetes Clinic)

Hallowe'en Treats

Your kids had a blast Trick-or-Treating at a social distance and now you have a pillow case full of unmarked candy... but no carb labels! Or you had a party for your family at home but you don't want to keep the boxes around for months. Don’t worry – the Registered Dieticians at the Alberta Children’s Hospital have done all the research to prepare this helpful guide for your Halloween carb counting. We find it handy to print it off and stick it on the fridge for easy reference all year round.

(from the Registered Dieticians at the Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic, Alberta Children’s Hospital)

Printable pdf:
Halloween Treats Handout (Courtesy of the Registered Dieticians at the AB Children's Hospital Diabetes Clinic)

Easter Treats

Hippity-hoppity, Easter’s on its way! And so are the solid chocolate bunnies, the basket full of gummie eggs, and the Spring Fling school parties (complete with home-baked -- read: NOT carb-counted! --goodies). When you don’t have a nutritional label to rely on, here are some handy rules of thumb for carb counting Easter treats.

(from the Registered Dieticians at the Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic, Alberta Children’s Hospital)

Plain chocolate has a carb factor of approximately 0.55. That is, if you weigh the item on a scale, there will be 0.55g carbs for every one gram of weight; just over half of that Chocolate Bunny’s weight will be carbohydrates. For example, a bunny weighing 50g will have (50 x 0.55, or) about 28g of carbs; a handful of pastel-wrapped Hershey’s kisses weighing 30g will have about 16g of carbs.

Cupcakes have 15g of carbs for a plain, medium cupcake (1/24th of a Betty Crocker cake mix), plus 10g of carbs for every tablespoon of icing. For a typical cupcake with about 1 tbsp of icing, that totals 25g of carbohydrates. For one piled high with icing (think: boutique bakery cupcakes) this may mean 35g of carbs or more.

Straight Sugar Candies (hard candy, gummies, suckers and jawbreakers) have a carb factor of 1.0. That is, when you weigh the item on a scale, for every gram of weight the candy will have about one gram of carbs. For example, an Easter egg sucker that weighs 5g will have about 5g of carbs; a gummy ducky that weighs 16g will have about 16g of carbs. (Just remember to subtract the weight of the stick and any uneaten candy after your child has finished.)

 (Note: If you can access them, better carb counting tools include the food label, the company website, or a nutritional app.)

The linked handouts are used with permission from The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic information handouts.

The above information was adapted with permission from The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic information handouts.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

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