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How to handle Halloween with food allergies

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This orange plastic pumpkin filled with candy presents a problem for kids with food allergies. Thinkstock

Halloween can be one of those tough holidays for children with food allergies or diabetes.

This orange plastic pumpkin filled with candy presents a problem for kids with food allergies. Thinkstock

This orange plastic pumpkin filled with candy presents a problem for kids with food allergies.
Thinkstock

Two years ago, I interviewed Marty Barnes of Mommies of Miracles, a support/advocacy group for families with children with complex medical issues. She had these suggestions:

  1. Encourage neighbors to stock non-food items in their trick-or-treat basket, such as glow bracelets, stickers, tattoos, noise makers, bouncy balls.
  2. Put a sticker on your child that says “non-food items only.” That way you don’t have to explain at every door why you can’t take the candy.
  3. Place a sign on your door that reads “Non-food items available here.” Or paint a pumpkin teal. The Food Allergy Research & Education group created the Teal Pumpkin project to represent that you are food-allergy friendly by having non-food treats at your house. You can download a Teal Pumpkin sign here. 
  4. Take the candy if you don’t want to be impolite, but take it to an orthodontist participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. I searched my ZIP code and found three locations nearby.

There are a lot of great things happening in the world of food allergies. ‘Specially for Children, which is affiliated with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, just became a FARE site.  This means that kids who are at ‘Specially for Children can participate in research studies, like the peanut allergy study that is going on right now.

I’ve also written about how to handle school issues when you have a child with a gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease. A lot of the same principles would apply to any food allergy or intolerance. Some of the suggestions:

  1. Have approved snacks at school for the teacher to give out if there is a cupcake day.
  2.  Educate the teacher and the classes’ parents about why your child can’t have the cupcake and offer parents solutions of what they could bring for your child.
  3. Empower kids to be their own advocate and understand what they can and cannot have.

The local chapter of FARE is having a walk on Oct. 30  to raise awareness about food allergies. The fun is happening beginning at 2 p.m. outside the Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. Kyle Dine, a food allergy educator and musician, will perform. Find more information at foodallergywalk.org/austin2016


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