Tips For Trick or Treating With Food Allergies
Get your spooky gear ready, everyone! As kids (and adults) put together cool and scary costumes for Halloween, families with food allergies have an extra concern to manage. That constant worry in the back of your mind gets stronger as the countdown ticks to D-Day.
You may not realize it, but as constant as your concern is about a possible reaction, it’s just as continual for your kids. They may be as calm and collected as you are on the surface, but they’re always aware that anything they eat can potentially cause a reaction.
The good news is that people who have food allergies can (and should) live perfectly normal lives. This means not letting food fear and anxiety hold your kids (and you) back from enjoying Halloween. Below are a few tips to keep you safe and happy this fall:
1. Always Carry Your EpiPen and Benadryl.
This is a no-brainer for any day of the year. Always having an EpiPen available is easier for younger kids who always go places with their parents. For older ones who may not have a parent nearby, make sure they have it on their person before they go out. Make them show it to you if you have to, and make sure they know how to use it. Most importantly, make sure that neither of you is afraid to use the EpiPen – it works within seconds, goes through clothing, and doesn’t hurt. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE THE EPIPEN. ITS PURPOSE IS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!
2. Know the Plan.
If a reaction or exposure happens, know what to do. Eventually, an accident will happen. You know that. Your kids know it, too. Maybe not this year, but eventually, someone will make a mistake – a waiter, ice cream server, babysitter, etc. When this happens, you and your kids need to know how to fix the reaction. First, teach your kids to tell an adult if they are allergic to a food, or if they feel that they’ve eaten something they should not have. Then, have them carry their Epipen at all times. Write instructions on it telling the babysitter to use the EpiPen and call you with an accidental exposure. I will break the rules of composition and repeat myself: DO NOT BE AFRAID OF YOUR EPIPEN. IT’S OK IF YOU HAD AN ACCIDENT, IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE AND FIX YOU!!!
3. Use Common Sense
Read labels and don’t eat candy that obviously have nuts in them if you’re allergic to tree nuts. You’re probably doing this already, so just read the ingredient list carefully for any Halloween candy your kids will eat. Also remember that US law requires that foods like tree nuts, peanuts, and soy be listed as an ingredient if they are actually part of the candy. It will be in the ingredient list if it’s actually contained in the candy. Just about every packaged food – candy or otherwise – says “may contain”, “made on shared equipment”, or “made in a factory/facility with”. This is a general disclaimer for legal purposes only. It is not the same as “actually contains”. Your comfort level with allowing your children to have foods with these disclaimers is the primary deciding factor for eating them.
4. Trade treats.
You can’t control what treats other houses will give out, but allowing your kids to trade with their friends may give them more options. A peanut allergic kid may trade his peanut M&Ms for Starbursts. Or, perhaps, they’ll trade Snickers for a secret stash of regular M&Ms.
5. Have Fun!
While trick or treating with food allergies can be stressful, it can still be fun if you are prepared! Don’t forget to focus on having fun and making amazing memories!
These are all things you’re probably aware of but sometimes it helps to have a reminder. Overall, using common sense and being prepared will allow you and your family to enjoy Halloween, so that the only thing you need to scared of is the ghosts, zombies and that’s that go “boo” in the night
Check out these sites for other allergy and asthma resources: