A Perspective from a Child with Diabetes for Purim
Submitted by: Sima
As a young child, I always waited for Purim with great anticipation. A few weeks before Purim, my mother would put a Purim tape into the cassette recorder to get us all in the mood. Then, we would all plan what our costumes would be that year, make hamantashen (triangle shaped filled pastries), and get busy with preparing the mishloach manos (gift packages).
When Purim itself arrived, I got to wear make-up to shul (synagogue) for megilla (scroll of Esther read on Purim) reading, and I would love to twirl my gragger (noise maker-popular Purim toy) every time the evil Haman’s name was read. On the day of Purim itself, there was nothing like receiving those beautiful packages chock full of candy and eating as much of it as I could!
At the age of nine, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. After that, Purim wasn’t exactly the same. Of course, the anticipation and excitement were still there. It was still great fun to listen to the Purim tape, plan my costume, bake the hamentaschen, wear makeup to shul and shake my gragger at the sound of Haman’s name. But now, after the hamantaschen came out of the oven, I could no longer eat as many of them as I pleased, whenever I wanted to. And if I dared to, my reward was a very high blood glucose reading and all the uncomfortable physical symptoms that come along with that. It was also still very nice to see all the beautiful mishloach manos packages that came through our front door, but now, I could not enjoy all that sweet and delicious candy and those yummy baked goods. As a result, I often ended up spending the afternoon of Purim upstairs in my room, sulking and depressed that I could no longer partake in this aspect of this fun holiday, while seemingly everyone else in my family – and (in the eyes of a nine year old,) the rest of the world, – could.
Of course, with time, this strain lessened. Now, older, married and with children of my own, I can once again enjoy and appreciate Purim, and Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), for more than the fact that it is fun to dress up, and eat a lot of junk food. However, this year, I began to think: What can parents do to help ensure that their children are able to enjoy Purim to its fullest, without feeling that diabetes is holding them back?
Here are some of my thoughts:
Discuss some of the challenges that Purim might present, with your child and come up with strategies to prevent them from interfering with simchas haChag (enjoyment of the holiday).
Think of a healthy theme for the mishloach manos that your family sends, so that your child can partake in putting them together without having to stare candy wrappers in the face for a few hours.
Allow your child to pick out his/her favorite treats, after all the mishloach manos are received, and put them in a special place. Explain to your child that it is better if he/she enjoys these treats slowly over the next few weeks rather than eating them all at once. Then, they can be used to treat a low blood sugar, or sparingly, as a special treat.
Discuss with all your children the importance of not gorging on all the junk food that comes into the house, as it is really not a healthy habit for anyone to participate in.
Discuss with your family the option of giving some of the extra food received to some of the wonderful organizations that collect it after Purim and bring it to hospitals and the home bound. This way, you will be able to get the junk out of the house, while also performing a big mitzvah (a very good deed of charity).
I am sure that with some creative thinking and preparation, there are countless other things that can be done to ensure that Purim is fun for the entire family---so send us your thoughts!
OUR PURIM SOLUTION
Submitted by: Rivky
Purim can be a difficult challenge for children with diabetes. I still have not found the source that requires mishloach manos to have as much refined sugar and carbs as possible!! But seriously, as parents, we want every holiday to be special for all our children.
Since Purim centers on so much eating in one day, I was determined to make it as healthy as possible for our son, Dave. After experiencing our first Purim with a lot of frustration, I vowed to find a solution.
Here is our campaign-against-the Purim- carbohydrate-overload!
All the mishloach manos that Dave receives are separated into piles of produce, Grape Juice, sensible snacks, and candy. Dave puts all the candy in a bag, and for every candy exchanged he receives 25 cents. I then give most of the candy away, except for some, which he saves for “lows”. He ends up with a nice chunk of change, of which I might add, my tzaddik (righteous person) gives a significant amount to tzedakah (charity)! The produce and sensible snacks are used to fit into his regular designated snack schedule after careful evaluation of the carbohydrate amounts.
We have used this method successfully for a few years and passed the idea on to others that have found it very helpful. The only drawback is that Dave's siblings want to trade in their candy for money as well! I simply tell them that those special children (that work on curbing their desire for candy) sometimes have certain special privileges and fringe benefits that other children do not (another important lesson in diabetes education for siblings)!
So get creative, do some good thinking and see the difference! Before you know it, you’ll be anticipating Purim, as opposed to dreading it!
WE AT JDA WOULD LOVE TO READ AND PASS ON YOUR SUGGESTIONS TO OTHERS!