Halloween is Scary, But Food Allergies Don’t Have to Be

halloween-and-kids-memory-magicAs a child, there are certain times of the year that you always remember. It’s almost as if those moments are what all of your inner magic is made from. All of those fleeting moments in time are wound up into a life-long vision that helps to shape us as adults. For me, trick or treating was one of those momentous times of the year. So what happens when we try to share the same moments and traditions with our children with the added snafu of food allergies?

Fear not- I can tell you that Halloween is scary but food allergies don’t have to be. As with many other situations, there are always ways to enjoy anything while being cautious and allergy-safe. As a food allergy parent, I have learned that trying to be as mainstream as possible is very important in shaping my son’s future abilities to do anything that he wants to do safely. It can be a bit overwhelming but here are some easy tips to get you started:

  • Start out Slow- When my son was too young to grasp the entire concept of Halloween, we started off by having him help us answer the door at home. He got dressed up, he loved to see all of the other costumes and he would run to the door every single time the doorbell rang to offer out goodies. Of course, our goodies were allergy-friendly to avoid any possible reactions but it gave him the beginning notion of what Halloween was all about as well as keeping him safe. As long as he was safe and happy, so were we.
  • Choose a Costume Carefully- Think about how your child’s Halloween costume can also double-up as an allergy barrier. By adding gloves, your child will not be touching candy or goodies as they sift through the offerings. It’s an easy way to keep your child safe as well as warm not to mention budget-friendly as the gloves can be washed and reused throughout the cooler weather. And, dare I say, a bit sneaky as a proactive parent.
  • Read Your Labels- As always, label reading is a part of this process too. This also includes your child’s costume, especially if there is a latex allergy involved. Although latex is not as common as other allergies, I recommend you still be vigilant and always double-check to keep that memory as a positive experience rather than a negative one. Teaching your child at a very early age to look for possible allergens and warnings encourages them to take responsibility of their allergies. Even at the beginning stages of reading, showing your child words to avoid on labels will keep them one step ahead of a possible reaction.
  • Keep a Parent Stash- Grab a handful of some safe treats and store them in your purse or pockets. Chances are that along the Halloween route, your child will either be hungry or see other children eating and will want to do the same. You will be the superstar parent when you announce to your child that they can eat too. I know that we all try to say that it shouldn’t always be about food but sometimes, it is and sometimes for your child, it really is!
  • Don’t Forget Your Meds – This should be a given but it’s always good to remind everyone that having your necessary medications with you could be a life saver. As we all know, an allergic reaction can happen anytime, anywhere so always be prepared. In a flash, a fog machine could trigger an asthma attack, a balloon could put your child’s allergies into overload or someone could unknowingly hand them an unsafe treat. It’s also important to get your child into the habit of carrying their medications at all times so that they will do it out of habit rather than as a reminder.
  • The Big Switch- At the end of the night, you are left with a big bag of items that will most likely be unsafe for your child. This means that it’s time for mom and dad to be prepared to avoid watching your child’s heart break into two. I can recommend two options that will add to that moment I am talking about.
    • Our family has always had a special bag of items (edible and non-edible) waiting for my children when we got back home. We donate all of the items that are unsafe for our family to a local buy-back program (who donates it to our US Troops, win-win!) and my children still have plenty of things to enjoy. Most of the time, they brag to their friends that what they got is far better than what everyone else got that night. Need a starter list of what to get? Simply click here.
    • Another similar option was shared by Lisa Rutter, the founder of No Nuts Moms Group called the Halloween Fairy. Very much like the special bag ready and waiting but this also gives your children an extra bonus of magic for Halloween. And who knows, this is such a cute idea, this may even catch on with non-allergic children.

The important thing to remember is that food allergies keep you on your toes but they should never keep you sheltered. No matter how terrifying the thought is of dealing with new situations when it comes to food allergies, remember that you can find solutions most of the time. Be courageous, be willing to learn new techniques and welcome new traditions.

In the words of Erin Hanson “What if I fall? O, my darling but what if you fly?”

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at www.AllergyPhoods.com. Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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