October to January is an amazing run of months full of holidays, parties, fun, and even fear for some people. Our most joyous seasons are usually centered around food, and for people living with life-threatening food allergies, those gatherings can be down right scary. But luckily with some planning, you can make those holidays more fun than fearful. Here are my tips for handling Halloween with food allergies safely.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
I flippin’ love the color teal and I love that it’s the signature color to represent the Food Allergy Community, a community near and dear to my heart because of my son Logan who is allergic to many food items.
A fellow Food Allergy mom wanted her children to be included in Halloween when their food allergies didn’t allow them to be. So, she painted a pumpkin teal and bought non-food items to go with it, and trick-or-treating became safe at her house. That is what I call problem-solving!
In 2014 FARE made the Teal Pumpkin Project an official movement that is really gaining traction. Now, anyone with a dietary restriction can take part in this food-focused holiday! Yay, #inclusion!
Before life was teal for us, before we were a food allergy family, Halloween was as simple as picking up a bag of candy last-minute, visiting any old pumpkin patch, going door to door and shoveling in candy by the piece-full.
But, last Halloween things changed. Logan was a few months into his life-threatening food allergy diagnosis and luckily, he was still under two years old. Trick or treating was more about getting dressed up, rather than the candy. Now that he is nearly three years old, and dare I say a bit of a loose cannon, we really need to be ready for him. And, for my non-food allergic kiddos, and for everyone else trick-or-treating with us. Can you imagine? “Here cute baby, have some peanut butter candy!” Yeah, that can’t happen.
So what do we do?
Here are my top tips for handling Halloween with Food Allergies Safely:
- I am supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project by providing cute pencils and erasers for those who can’t have sweets or don’t want them. Don’t forget to list your house on the map so others with food allergies or dietary restrictions can find you!
- I also bought treats that are free of the Top 8 Allergens. We chose Surf Sweet Gummies and Yum Earth Lollipops. Plus, I don’t mind if they are left over because they are safe for everyone in our family.
- I am educating my non-food allergic children and their friends on which type of candy is safe to eat around Logan. Typically, things like lollipops and sour patch kids are safe. Here is a complete list you can familiarize yourself with.
- I am heading over to CVS now to create a Switch Witch kind of bag for my kids. It’s going to have a few pieces of safe chocolate and candy with a little toy or coloring book. Retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and CVS have really gotten on board with the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. It’s making it way easier for you to participate in either the Teal Pumpkin Project or to have some Top 8 Allergen Free candy available if you want.
- While we are actually out trick-or-treating, we will all be armed with safe candy for Logan in our pockets.
- He will always have a parent or food allergy with buddy with him for when he comes across a bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Snickers. Our other children will know not to grab them either.
- We are going to trade out any non-safe candy to people who don’t manage food allergies at their home. We will take all your skittles and Tootsie pops for all the candy bars you can eat. I have dibs on the sixlets though…they are safe for us!
- A Word of Caution – Never offer any child candy or food. This is something we are working on, but at the age of two and with limited language, Logan hasn’t truly grasped the scope of his food allergies. Until he does enough to decline, always ask a parent before offering any type of food to children. I know, sad, but better safe than sorry.
- Keep your Halloween Candy at home or practiving washing your hands after eating food in public. I don’t hate on nuts or chocolate bars, or pretty much any food, but since so many people’s body do, a really awesome way you can keep everyone safe is to eat those common candies that contain allergens at home or if you do eat them in public, wash your hands after you eat. It’s super simple and fast and makes a world of a difference. So, thank you!
- Don’t forget to always have 2 epinephrine auto-injectors on hand. This is your lifeline and your backup. Don’t leave home without them.
My Biggest Takeaway for Managing All Holidays with Food Allergies:
My biggest takeaway for managing holidays with a food allergic children is to always be prepared with the safe options you can offer. We will always have our epinephrine with us in the slight chance our son is exposed. And, that is all we can do to ensure we have the most fun we can have.
For those who are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, I can say on behalf of every food allergy parent, thank you!
Oh, one last thing, don’t be fooled by those sneaky marketers who are using teal for bulk bags of classic candy bars you know are not safe. Look for signs that say Top 8 Allergen Free if you want to be Food Allergy Friendly, or check out that list I posted above.
Wishing you and yours a spooky, safe, and fun Halloween!