Taking the Fear Out of Halloween for Those with Food Allergies

It’s the time of the year that can cause some trepidation for those with food allergies and their families.  During the holidays, food plays an integral part of the festivities and no one wants to bring down the mood thinking about the complexities of what can and cannot be eaten. However, if you or a loved one has food allergies, you know that you must take special consideration of what’s on the menu.

In this post, I’ll focus on special considerations for Halloween. In subsequent posts, I’ll discuss some other upcoming holiday eating guidelines.

Halloween can be particularly challenging as the major activity involves collecting treats, usually food items, typically from strangers or at least from outside of your home. That already may induce some anxiety separately from any history of food allergy.  There are, however, some precautions that families can take that will help avoid any mishaps that could ruin the fun.

1) Advise your children not to eat any of the treats they collect until a parent or guardian has a chance to review each treat and decide what is safe. So, this means no snacking on their goodies while still out trick or treating.

2) Discard or give away any treats that are not labeled clearly with ingredients.

3) Consider having a back-up supply of safe treats in case many of the other treats are off limits, to reduce disappointment.

4) Most importantly, make sure you/your child has emergency medications (epinephrine, etc.) for any accidental exposures that may result in allergic reactions.

If you are distributing treats instead of collecting them, there are ways that you too can be sensitive to those with food allergies.

1) Try to limit treats that contain some of the most common causes of food allergy: nuts, dairy, and eggs. Other common food allergens include soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish, but these may be less likely to be found in Halloween treats. If limiting items seems too cumbersome, at least try to have a variety of options available.

2) If you are able to accommodate further, you may even ask your trick or treaters if any of them have food allergies and have a special stash of treats to give to those children, so no feels left out. Understandably, not everyone is able to accommodate in this way.

3) Make sure to label each treat clearly with a full ingredient list or purchase foods where the label is clearly visible on the individual treat, even once it is removed from its original packaging.

These suggestions should take some of the anxiety out of this holiday, so that you can fully enjoy your treats and have a Happy Halloween.

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