Yes, ghouls and goblins can be mighty scary. However, if you have a food allergy, food intolerance, or celiac disease – your Halloween candy dish might have more horrors inside of it than a monster movie marathon! Here’s a guide to staying safe for you, children, and others this Halloween.
LEARN WHICH CANDY IS SAFE
Every year, Celiac Disease Foundation puts out a safe candy list. You can access the safe candy list here. For specific food allergy needs like peanut-free or milk-free, there are several websites that have compiled lists that can be found via Google search. However, you should always read every label and do your own digging if you have any questions on a certain candy. Remember that formulations can change year over year, and some seasonal shapes and sizes may not be safe, even if the regular sizes are safe. The last thing you want on Halloween night is a serious medical emergency.
Print out these lists or compile your own, and have them available Halloween night so you can easily access what you can have – and what you need to throw away (or leave in the office candy dish the next week).
PURCHASE NON-CANDY TREATS
The new Teal Pumpkin Project from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is all about providing non-candy treats that are safe for everyone. Non-candy treats, like those listed below, are safe for those with food allergies, intolerances, and celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity too. As a bonus, the fun with these toys last beyond the few seconds it takes to consume a candy treat!
– Drinking straws
– Bouncy balls
– Pencil toppers
– Pencil erasers
– Novelty sunglasses
– Glow sticks
– Mini notepads
– Halloween-themed plastic rings (spiders/bats)
– Key chains
– Fake mustaches
– Pirate eye patches
Items like this can be purchased at major big box stores, or party stores. While these might be more expensive per piece than supplying candy, you will be assured you’ll provide safe treats to the neighborhood.
You can alert the neighborhood that you provide non-candy safe treats by painting a pumpkin teal (the color of the food allergy awareness ribbon) and placing a sign in your yard or window that you can provide a safe haven for those with food allergies. You can even download a pre-made sign on the FARE site here.
SAVE THE CANDY FOR LATER
Never eat while you’re out trick-or-treating. It’s dark and labels might be harder to read. Wait until you’re safely at home to sample any treats. If you plan on being out late, bring some safe snacks like fruit or bars to sustain you through the night.
TRADE FOR NON-CANDY TREATS
Before you go out trick-or-treating, devise a candy trade system for your children. They can still go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood; they just won’t be able to eat any of the candy they collect. Instead, they will trade you their candy for non-food rewards. Ten candy bars can equal an extra 15 minutes TV time, watching their favorite show before bed, or an extra 30 minutes of play time in the yard. You can trade unsafe candy for safe food treats – like exchanging a lb. of candy for a So Delicious frozen dessert pint, or a box of Enjoy Life Foods cookies. The child will be motivated to exchange the candy when they return home, and won’t miss out on what every other kid gets to do on Halloween. Keep the fun of running house to house with a pillowcase, just ditch the junk inside their goodie bag!
MAKE A SAFE SPACE
Find other food-allergic people in your community and host a food-allergy-free party on Halloween. The children can swap safe candy/foods under adult supervision, and there can be safe snacks available so there won’t be temptation to eat unsafe treats. By creating a safe place for others, you’ll find a ghoulishly beautiful community of those who eat different – just like you.
This post was originally published in October 2017.Originally posted October 2018