Editor's note: This is a guest post from Kimberly, The Food Allergy Mom
As the fall holidays approach, parents of children with food allergies collectively cringe at the food-related challenges they bring. After all, both Halloween and Thanksgiving are completely centered around food!
Still, if you’ve visited my blog, The Food Allergy Mom, you know I don’t believe in letting food allergies define our kids. Kids deserve to be kids…no matter what.
Halloween is a little more than a month away and it’s time to start thinking about how you can safely capture the magical fun and food of the holiday.
Before I break down the different ways to safely celebrate the day, there is one cardinal rule to remember. Foods and candy that are normally considered “safe foods” are not necessarily safe at Halloween.
Many popular candies and treats can have altered ingredients or are processed on equipment that also processes a known allergen. Many of these changes are due to special packaging and festive appearances of brand name products. Never let your child consume food or candy that is individually packaged unless you checked the ingredients and warning labels of the larger bag it came in. Ingredients and warnings are required to be labeled on the exterior of the product, but not necessarily on its individual components.
Now that you know what not to do, how can you safely celebrate Halloween with the family? Here are few frightfully delightful ideas:
The Candy Swap: Older children or children with very mild food allergies (not requiring epinephrine), may be able to safely trick-or-treat around the neighborhood if the ground rules are laid out beforehand. The most important rule is for kiddos not put anything in their mouths! Accompany your child from house to house allowing them to collect candy with friends. When done trick or treating for the night, let your child swap out the candy they collected for safe candy (candy you personally bought and approved) or a non-food prize.
Selective Trick- or-Treating: If you have family or other food allergy friends in the area, take your child to trick-or-treat only at those “safe” houses. This may require driving around the neighborhood rather than walking but is still just as much fun when in costume! Make sure the treats served are truly safe by providing friends with an approved list of treats ahead of time and then double-checking the ingredients again before your child consumes them.
Pumpkin Party: Halloween parties are usually a high-risk zone for those with food allergies and require extra care. Even if you are the host or hostess for the party and are providing allergy-friendly food for friends, a well-meaning guest usually shows with a special dish they think is allergy-free.
If you do decide to host a Halloween party, consider making it a non-food party or make sure your children know to eat only the food you personally place on their plates. If you are attending a Halloween party, bring an allergy-friendly dish. It is a great idea to bring extras of the allergy-friendly dish in your purse to provide your child with so there is no chance for cross contamination or look-alike mix-ups.
Falling For Fall: Another option is to avoid food all together by enjoying the simple pleasures Halloween has to offer. Load the family in the car and head out to a local pumpkin patch. Enjoy the fall weather and take your time picking out the perfect pumpkin before enjoying a picnic. Some pumpkin patches even host a festival on the weekends with lots of food-free activities such as carnival games, hay rides, and costume contests.
Whatever you do this Halloween, make it a safe and boo-tiful experience for you and your family!