Halloween Safety for Kids with Food Allergies and Type 1 Diabetes!

There’s nothing quite like late fall when the leaves are on the ground, fireplaces are lit, the air is a little crisp, and pretty much everything comes in pumpkin flavor. Seriously. Everything. I saw pumpkin-flavored Frosted Mini Wheats the other day.

Pumpkin-flavored or otherwise, autumn treats are everywhere, especially when it comes to Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. So let’s dive into our…

Five Halloween {Food} Safety Tips For Kids

  • Talk About It: When your child has food allergies, food sensitivities, or conditions directly impacted by diet (EG: Blood glucose levels for kids with Type 1 Diabetes), Halloween is a time to really make sure that everyone is well informed. It’s a great idea to talk to your child’s teacher about any upcoming class parties so you know when to bring in some treats that your child can have and share. For younger kids who need reminders or are learning to self-advocate, this is also a terrific time to discuss food safety and management during celebrations including how to avoid cross-contamination, eating only known safe foods, monitoring oneself as needed, and how to respond in an emergency.
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    Buy The Right Snacks: We love this handy >downloadable PDF from the folks at Target. They’ve teamed up with their manufacturers to provide this list of possible Halloween treat options, broken out by allergen content information. Even if you don’t have kids with food allergies, if you’re serving trick-or-treaters or buying for that class party, there’s some great information here to help you buy treats that are gluten-free, nut-free, and/or free of the Top 8 food allergens. Equally awesome is this terrific downloadable guide for “Halloween Candy Carb Counts” from our friends at the JDRF. It shows just how widely the carb contents vary across all the different candy options and can really help everyone make smarter choices.
  • Go Teal! The folks at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) are now in their third year of movement called the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can take part by providing alternative treats for trick-or-treaters instead of candy. There’s a great list of ideas here, including fun things like stickers, erasers, glow sticks, and more. You can even download free signs (lots of options!) to post along with your teal pumpkin, which alerts families to your allergy-friendly treats!
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    Pack It Up: Before you head out for parties or trick-or-treating, check that you have all your gear. These out-of-the-ordinary events are notoriously the times when we forget things because we’re out of our normal routine. Take an extra minute to make sure you have what you need. You may want to pack safe snacks, bottled water, extra rescue meds, a cell phone and portable charger, and a flashlight. And of course, even (and especially) on Halloween, it’s important for your little ghost or ghoul to wear a personalized medical ID bracelet or necklace.
  • Trade It In: For my daughter, whose chocolate allergy made Halloween a little “trickier” than we’d have liked in the past, I prepared her in advance. We discussed that she could “trade in” her chocolate for other treats with me the day after Halloween. She had the option of trading for non-chocolate treats or going to the store to pick a small toy. This helped her simply be present and enjoy trick-or-treating and not worry about what she was actually receiving. Her allergy was fortunately not such that accidental skin exposure would put her at risk, so it was ok for her to accept wrapped candy of any type in her bag so long as she waited to eat things until we got home and sorted. However, I still carried her epinephrine auto-injectors and kept safe snacks in my own bag so she wouldn’t be tempted to dig into her bag before we got home.

What are your Halloween safety tips? How do you navigate this treat-heavy season with Type 1 or food allergies? We want to hear from you in the comments below!

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