You already know that candy is bad for you. Bad for your blood sugar, bad for your waistline. Sugar and other ultra-processed ingredients do the metabolism zero favors.
But if you use insulin or sulfonylureas, or otherwise have a risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), candy can literally be life-saving.
Easter is here, and we see nothing wrong with stocking up on Easter candies to bring a little seasonal fun to your hypo management. We’ll review the best and worst Easter sweets for hypoglycemia rescue.
Avoiding the Rollercoaster
Hypoglycemia is a test of willpower. Your challenge: consume just the right amount of sugar, enough to pull your blood glucose into a safe range, but not too much to send it high. This exercise will be performed under immense stress and in an impaired mental state, often in the middle of the night, and may require math and superhuman self-restraint.
We’ve all been there — hypoglycemia hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you weak-kneed and trembling, and your body is screaming at you for the one thing it needs: sugar! It can feel like every bone in your body is pushing you towards the snacks, and before you know it you’re shoving food into your mouth, blowing way past the small amount of carbs you actually needed to bring you back to safety.
Binge eating during a hypo feels great for a few minutes, but it almost always ends with regret. Your blood sugar is about to rocket back up to the stratosphere, and might require an insulin correction to bring it back down again, triggering the dreaded rollercoaster. Not to mention what your emergency indulgence might have done to your diet — people with diabetes are not generally known to reach for the healthiest treats when fixing a hypo.
Choosing the Best Hypo Rescue Snacks
The best treats for hypoglycemia share a few features:
Pure sugar, or close to it. Nothing brings your blood sugar back up quite like refined sugar. Other macronutrients like fat, protein, and fiber only slow down digestion and absorption. Most of the time, that’s healthy, but not when you’re trying to correct a hypo. This is the primary reason why chocolate, for example, isn’t a great choice.
Easily measurable. It’s easy to overeat when you have no idea how much you’re eating. Sometimes it seems almost unavoidable. Careful people with diabetes know exactly how many grams of carbs are in their hypo rescue snacks, and make an educated guess as to exactly how many they need.
Easy to chew/swallow. This factor only comes into play at the worst of times, but if you get hit with a bad hypo, you don’t want your rescue candy to require a lot of chewing. This is one reason that so many parents choose juice boxes for their kiddos with diabetes. Excessive wrapping is another consideration — who wants to fumble with multiple tiny paper or foil wrappers when they’re already shaky with hypoglycemia?
Let’s get this sad but good advice out of the way: The more boring your hypo rescue candy, the better.
When your rescue snack is delicious, you’re more likely to overeat. As fun as it is to use a mild hypo as an opportunity to indulge, this is exactly the wrong time to dig into that large chocolate bunny rabbit. Save those treats for a time that your blood sugar is acting predictably and you can bolus responsibly, or counteract the blood sugar rise with exercise.
It’s much better practice to view the food or drink you consume to correct a hypo as medicine. Because that’s exactly what it is, a medically vital intervention to be dosed precisely. Hypoglycemia is a serious business.
One of our writers takes it even further: She swallows tiny sugar candies without chewing, as if they were pills.
So, go boring with your hypo rescue solution, the more boring, the better. Experts recommend glucose tabs because they don’t really taste all that good. That’s a feature, not a bug: Medicine isn’t supposed to taste good.
But sometimes that advice is tough to follow…
The Top Easter Candies, Ranked
We looked at the top 10 Easter candies in the United States and ranked ’em:
1. Brach’s Jelly Bird Eggs
1 egg: 2.6 grams net carbohydrates, 2.1g added sugar, 0 fat, 0 protein, 11 calories
One jelly bird egg is about the equivalent of two jelly beans. Easy to dose and store. A solid choice and an obvious classic.
2. Starburst Easter Jelly Beans
1 bean: 1.25g net carbohydrates, 1g added sugar, 0 fat, 0 protein, 5 calories
It’s tough to beat a jelly bean. They’re small, so they’re easy to dose precisely, they’re easy to store and carry, and they’re almost nothing but sugar.
1 chick: 7g net carbohydrates, 7g added sugar, 0 fat, 0 protein, 28 calories
Surprise! Peeps are sugar-coated marshmallows, practically pure sugar. They even melt in your mouth! Two chicks are almost exactly 15g of carbs, the American Diabetes Association’s standard recommendation for hypo rescue snacks, though just one may be enough for mild hypos. It’s tough to think of a more festive option here.
4. Cadbury’s Mini Eggs
1 mini-egg: 2.4g net carbohydrates, 2.3g added sugar, .6g fat, 0 protein, 16 calories
These candy-coated eggs are delicious and have relatively little fat.
1 M&M: .65g net carbohydrates, .5g added sugar, 0 fat, 0 protein, 4 calories
As far as chocolate goes, not a bad option! But we prefer the seasonal mini-eggs.
6. Hershey’s Kisses
1 kiss: 2.7g net carbohydrates, 2.3g added sugar, 1g fat, 0 protein, 21 calories
Not really an Easter candy, even with the pastel foil.
7. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Eggs
1 egg: 3.6g net carbohydrates, 3.2g added sugar, 1.6g fat, .4g protein, 28 calories
Basically a Kiss in the shape of an egg.
8. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs
1 egg: 25g net carbohydrates, 20g added sugars, 5g fat, 1g protein, 150 calories
No. Just don’t. You know it’s a terrible idea.
9. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs
1 egg: 18g net carbohydrates, 15g added sugars, 10g fat, 4g protein, 170 calories
The peanut butter eggs are giving creme eggs a run for their money in popularity. At least it’s fewer carbs? We love all things peanut butter, but these little fat bombs are a poor decision for hypo rescue.
10. Lindt Little Gold Chocolate Bunny
1 bunny: 52g net carbohydrates, 48g added sugar, 28g fat, 4g protein, 440 calories
Delicious but inappropriate. Okay, maybe it’s unfair to count the entire bunny. But that’s kind of the point — this is one of those foods where it is impossible to have any confidence in portion size and difficult to know when to stop, and the foil wrapping does not make it easy to save the rest for later. Combine that with its size and tendency to melt, and this is not the right sweet to stash in your jacket pocket or purse.