As a child, I never missed a Halloween, even with many severe food allergies. I loved to dress up! I trick or treated. I had safety rules to follow like my friends and neighbors. The only differences were that my rules were more specific due to severe food allergies. I wasn’t upset. I didn’t feel left out. Just as in all other areas of my life, my “normal” was different than everyone else.
This was before the Teal Pumpkin Project and back when no food allergy awareness existed in the early ‘90s, my parents still made Halloween a fun and safe event for me.
How My Parents Managed a Food Allergy-Safe Halloween:
- We still dressed up and went trick or treating every year with friends and neighbors
- Our rule was no eating anything until we got home and went through it together
- My epinephrine auto-injectors always came with us – no matter the costume or that I wasn’t eating
- They would switch out unsafe candy for safe candy they bought
- My parents never made it a big deal or made me feel different – it just was our “normal” like with everything else that had to do with my food allergies
What Halloween Looked Like For Me
Growing up on a cul-de-sac, my neighbors and I would dress up to go trick or treating together with our parents. We had to wait until arriving home to eat. An adult sorted all the treats at whichever home we
gathered at afterwards. My parents took the extra step of helping me identify any safe, ingredient labeled, well-packaged candy that I could keep. We would then give my neighbors the candy I couldn’t eat. When I went home I would get safe candy to add to my bag. My Halloween memories are happy, inclusive, and fun-filled. It was about having fun all together as a neighborhood and enjoying safe treats at the end of the night.
Every child deserves to have happy Halloween memories. As parents, you get to decide where your comfort lies with Halloween. When I was little there was no Teal Pumpkin Project. My parents had to figure out how to safely include me in Halloween. With more food allergy awareness, today parents have a range of options to match comfort level.
Last week in Target, I was surprised to see a “Halloween Allergen Guide” hung by the candy displays. (Update for 2017: I have not seen the same Halloween Allergen Guide for 2017, however if you are trying to find some safe candy options, Allergic Living had a useful article. I still recommend having non-food items as well to be most inclusive to all allergies.) It seems the commercial world is on board with the allergy world at Halloween. I know this can be scrutinized as companies trying to capitalize on food allergies, but I am choosing to see it as an open door for more food allergy awareness. I am hopeful that friends and neighbors create a safer and more inclusive holiday.
How are you celebrating Halloween this year?