A Healthier Halloween: Preparing to be Allergen-Safe
While Halloween is often seen as an exciting childhood tradition, parents of kids with food allergies or intolerances might approach the holiday with dread. There are so many instances where your child already has to be on the alert, so the thought of a day where kids are exposed to lots of “treats” can be stressful. Additionally, it is not uncommon for kids to have multiple allergies or intolerances to juggle. The top 8 allergens, combining for over 90% of reactions, include eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, fish and shellfish and with the exception of fish and shellfish, are often found in those little treats.
The good news? There are more and more options for kids with restricted diets to enjoy Halloween and not feel left out. Over the next few weeks, we will offer 10 tips to a safer and healthier Halloween in a series of three posts. We hope this helps fill this tradition with positive memories and laughter for you and your child!
- Switch Witch – A storybook about exchanging candy after Trick-or-Treating
- FARE Teal Pumpkin Project – How to indicate offering non-allergen options
- Review the Rule – Preparing your child
- Be prepared – Preparing yourself
1. Switch Witch:
Start a new tradition this year with reading the Switch Witch! Before Halloween, purchase a copy of Switch Witch – a storybook to get your child excited for a visit from the Switch Witch. She’s a friendly witch looking for candy to heat her home, and on Halloween night, while your child sleeps, she swoops in to switch candy for a toy or non-food treat. Usually, the more candy the child agrees to give up, the larger the reward.
After trick-or-treating, go through the candy stash with your child and set aside any items for the Switch Witch that are allergen-containing, or questionable, and then maybe some more. Depending on your child, it may be helpful to discuss just how much he/she is going to give away before Halloween night. It’s a win-win! You get the problematic candy out of the house, and you did so without a fight! There are many options for what to do with the collected candy, including sending it overseas to soldiers.
2. FARE Teal Pumpkin Project:
The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project “to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids”. All you do is paint a pumpkin teal to set out on your doorstep to indicate that non-allergen treats will be handed out at your house.
Additionally, when you trick-or-treat, watch for the teal pumpkins on other doorsteps so you know which homes are more likely to be allergen-friendly for your little one. Head to their website for a map of participating homes, free resources, and ideas for activities.
3. Review the rules:
A few days before Halloween, review the “can’t have” list with your child. More importantly, talk about the “can have” foods – which is more fun anyway! This is especially important for kids still adjusting to a new diagnosis. Walk them through what to expect, and remind them that getting dressed up and costume-watching is the best part of Halloween!
4. Be prepared:
Don’t forget to bring your cell phone, EpiPen, emergency care plan, and contacts handy just in case your child does have an unfortunate reaction.
Keep an eye out for the remaining six tips between now and Halloween!