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DECK THE HALL-OWEEN

Halloween is my absolute favorite time of year. My husband makes fun of me for all of the Halloween decorations I put up both inside and outside our house. As of October 1st we are decked out.

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SMALL THINGS/BIG IMPACT

Almost a decade ago, I found out that my first child suffered from life-threatening food allergies — anaphylaxis to all nuts and a myriad of other allergies including corn and soy, as well as a celiac diagnosis. Of course, I was mainly concerned about the ‘big’ issues associated with managing life threatening allergies. Since then I’ve learned it can be the smaller things that have a big impact on your child’s well being.

FUN & SAFE

From the beginning I was determined to make Halloween a fun time of year for my son that was free from any stress or anxiety. I decided not to worry about ‘eating healthy’ at Halloween, and just embraced it. I allowed my son to go trick-or-treating and get whatever candy was given to him (always with adult supervision), and his siblings could do the same. I bought a ridiculous variety of Halloween candy that was safe for my son. As soon as we got home I counted each child’s candy and replaced it with ‘safe’ treats. I did not allow him to go through the candy and decide what was safe or not, for fear of cross-contamination.

teal pumpkin project

MY HALLOWEEN GO TO’S

Since that day I have discovered a lot of great products and resources to help manage Halloween for children with food allergies:

  • The Tootsie Company makes a whole variety pack that is free from many allergens. It includes, Junior Mints and Charleston Chews among other items. This way kids can make sure to get some chocolate as well!
  • For gummy treats, most candies from the Haribo Company (think Gummy Bears) are also gluten and nut free. Check out this cute Halloween themed package.
  • Celiac.org always provides an updated list of gluten free candy (note: please pay attention as these are only gluten free candies, and not free from other allergens). You should check this list out every year, as foods can change from year-to-year.
  • The Food Allergy Research and Education Foundation (FARE) is another great resource for people who suffer from severe food allergies is.  FARE provides a list of great non-food giveways for Halloween. Last year FARE started The Teal Pumpkin Project. The initiative asks neighbors to have a ‘teal’ pumpkin in front of their house to indicate that they had non-food goodies available for kids with food allergies (think little tattoos, stickers, etc.). You can find out more here

I was extremely grateful and my son was very happy when we passed by houses that offered this option as well. Food allergies can be a very isolating experience for children, and knowing that people are aware and care about you is a very important dynamic. I always get a big bag of very inexpensive Halloween toys from Oriental Trading of the Dollar Store to either supplement my son or to offer neighbors.

Everyone chooses to navigate Halloween in their own way. Many families avoid giving or receiving any food related items both because of risk to their children, and also to send a message about healthy eating and lifestyles. I for one am way too fond of the tradition (and of candy) to go that route, but regardless of your choice you can ensure your child has a fun and safe Halloween.

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