Right between fall and winter sits one of the most beloved holidays celebrated here in the US and that is Halloween. It’s a fun time to be a kid, to indulge in some extra silliness and to really have an excuse to play even as adults too.
Dressing up in costumes is quite a process. I can remember planning weeks ahead of time, having grandma sew my costume so it wouldn’t be like everyone else’s. And, sometimes getting together with friends as I got older and we’d have themed Halloween parties which was always so much fun as well. There truly is something about playing dress-up, that invites fun, laughter and joy. And who can’t use some extra joy, these days. :)
However, when you have food allergies and/or sensitivities it can be so much more complicated. Trick or treating fun turns into yet another thing that can be glaringly difficult to navigate especially when you are little and truly don’t understand why you can’t participate and enjoy in all the fun just like all the other kids.
Years ago before I had celiac disease and wasn’t as aware of food allergies as I am today, came this little boy who came to my home trick-or-treating in a group who stood in the back and by the time he had gotten to my home he had given up because he was allergic to chocolate. His little face looked down as his little pumpkin was empty and I will never forget the sheer excitement and joy that went across his little face when I said I had a few other options luckily. After that one little boy, I always have plan b for little ones with food allergies.
Years later, came the Teal Pumpkin Project which was launched by local food allergy communities and became a national campaign in 2014 which I love and wholeheartedly support because all children should have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween.
According to foodallergy.org, 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Generally there are eight foods that account for almost all of the allergic reactions and these are tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, milk, eggs, fish and shellfish. Even small to trace amounts of a food can cause a severe reaction. And, every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department and I'm sure on special occasions like Halloween it's even worse.
To participate it is really quite simple, add a teal pumpkin to your decorations and this lets kids who have food allergies that there are safe non-food treats for them to participate and have a great Halloween too. There are even free signs that you can print and post on Halloween so that your trick-or-treaters know that you are a safe place for them.
What to give instead of candy, that’s as simple as going to the dollar store or your nearest party supply store and think kids goodie bags, you know the ones that you give away at birthday parties it can include any little toys and novelty items. Here are a few examples that I have: bracelets, small slinkies, pencils, erasers, glow in the dark necklaces, small coloring book with crayons, bubbles and my favorite are the glittery halloween stickers and temporary tattoos.
And, I always let the kids chose, Candy or Prize. It’s funny really, I’ve even had several kids who don’t have food allergies say I have enough candy, is it okay if I pick a prize instead? Kids will always surprise you, it’s our job to take care of them and make sure they are safe and have fun on this coming Halloween.
In the event that you do allow your kids to go trick-or-treating and they do get some candy, I will attach the list by celiac.org that include gluten free candy and also has an allergy key to help with other allergies that can come in handy.
Hope you all have a frightfully fun night. Stay safe out there!