Trick-or-Treating, with Food Allergies

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It’s almost that time of year again, Costco is putting out Christmas decorations which means Halloween is almost here and food allergy parents everywhere are rolling up their sleeves…

If your neighbors are anything like mine, they would likely be thrilled to know what kinds of treats would be safe to hand out to the neighbor kids with food allergies or sensitivities on Halloween night. But if they don’t know, they can’t help; and if they are not familiar enough with food allergies, they also don’t know to ask. As food allergy parents it’s our job to lead the way, whether we like it or not.

Here are two simple things we can do to help our neighbors, help us this year:

  1. Let them know in advance: The change in season is a perfect excuse to wish your neighbors a “Happy Fall” with a homemade card or note. Let them know that your children are looking forward to trick-or-treating at their house this year, and include a list of edible treats (be brand-specific if necessary) that would be safe for your trick-or-treater(s), in case they are planning to hand out candy. You could even add that if possible, non-edible items (pencils, stickers, bouncy balls) would be just as welcome.
  2. Help prompt the question: We will be hanging a spooky-looking sign right by our doorbell that says “BEWARE: Allergy-friendly treats here only!” Sure, this will give any food allergy families that trick-or-treat at our house some assurance but perhaps more importantly, it will beg the question in turn to your neighbors if their treats are also allergy-friendly.

It Takes A Village

Even if your family is not impacted by dietary restrictions we can all play a role to help spread awareness and lighten the load for caretakers.

Job #1: If you know of any families in your neighborhood who are impacted by food allergies or sensitivities, reach out to them first and ask what kinds of treats would be safe. I promise you, this tiny act would mean SO much to a food allergy parent!

Job #2 if you can’t do Job #1: Ask anyways! 1 in 13 children in the U.S. have food allergies today. Chances are at least one of them lives in your neighborhood. If anything, it’s a great conversation starter to get to know your neighbors better!

For the newly diagnosed food allergy parents out there — my number one tip, is familiarize yourself with the most popular candies before the big day. Make a “Safe” and an “Off Limits” list of the most popular items (3 Musketeers, Snickers, etc.) that you can expect to receive. You will be thankful that you did the upfront work so that in the heat of the moment, you’re not trying to read tiny labels or look allergens up on your phone when all you really want is to finish sorting out the dang treats and let your overtired children pick their one treat to enjoy before bed.

**As a food allergy parent, my story specifically mentions food allergies, but please also consider ALL of our food minority groups (those impacted by dietary restrictions, whether they be philosophical, religious or health-related). From one parent, neighbor and citizen of the world, to another, please and thank you. ❤

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