Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies
Let your child know in advance what to expect from their trick-or-treating adventure. Remind them every time you chat about Halloween leading up to the big day. Statements as simple as, "I can't wait for Halloween either! We'll have so much fun seeing our neighbors' costumes. Remember that we're not going to eat while we trick-or-treat. It'll be fun to go through everything when we get home and..." You'll end that sentence with your plan for them, whether it's switching their bucket of candy for one you provide or reading every label together to decide what's safe.
Focus on FUN!
If you're having fun, so will your child. If you're feeling anxious, there's a good chance they'll pick up on that too. Your traditions are what you make of them and it's okay if they don't look the same as when you went trick-or-treating as a child. Focus on the fun costumes, spooky decorations, and the joy of being together. Your traditions don't have to be focused solely on candy.
Have your medicine bag with you at all times. It should have your emergency care plan, medications (including 2 epinephrine auto-injectors, don't split up the prescription!), hand wipes, and your own safe snacks.
Nibble At Home
Halloween night will be dark and there will be a lot going on. It can be difficult to read labels while on the move. It's best to save snacking for when you get home and your attention is not divided. Be sure you remind your child of this throughout the night.
No Such Thing As Tried & True
Labels, Labels, Labels!
Say it with me: Check every single label, every single time. No label? No thank you! If in doubt, throw it out! I know this seems pretty basic, but this important practice often gets overlooked. Regardless of your child's reading level, have them read labels with you to create good habits.
"Allergy-Free Candy" Does Not Exist
Period. There is no such thing as "allergy-free" candy because people can be allergic to anything. Some candy manufacturers label their products as "allergy-friendly", but there's no uniform definition. Some companies define "allergy-friendly" as any item free from the Top 8 allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish). Others are already including the Top 9 in their definition (add sesame to the previous list). Some companies define it as the absence of peanuts in the ingredients. Again, assume nothing and check everything.
Whether you go trick-or-treating or provide a bucket of safe goodies for your child, it's nice to get a head start and have some idea of which candy may be safe for your allergies. Here are a few guides* that do just that. Please keep in mind that inclusion in the lists does not guarantee a food's safety; check all labels yourself.
More Ways to Celebrate
There are plenty of fun ways to celebrate Halloween:
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, enjoy a safe & happy evening together!
*FAAM does not endorse any of the guides or products included in this article, nor are we rewarded in any way if you choose to purchase them.
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Food for Thought is the blog for the Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South. FAAM's mission is to provide food allergy support, education, advocacy, fellowship & fun for Memphis, TN and surrounding areas.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately and follow up with a physician.