If you’ve followed me on social media or on this blog, you may have noticed I’m a passionate supporter of the Teal Pumpkin Project to ensure even those with food allergies can have a safe and happy Halloween.
My daughter has severe peanut allergies and as much as we love Halloween around my house, it is a high-risk period because, let’s be honest, how many of us can resist a Reece’s? My daughter, yes, but some kids snack on a few and then dig their hands into a bowl filled with all kinds of treats and spread that peanut-butter around and let’s not talk about school lunch the next day. Instead, I’m offering 5 ways to get your house ready for a safe, fun and happy Halloween.
- Don’t let the kids grab the candy in a free-for-all when the bell rings. Have the designated door opener give each trick-or-treater a generous handful instead.
- Keep a bowl of peanut-free treats. We give out a lot of Skittles, Starbursts and Laffy-taffy. If a trick-or-treater gets a Snicker’s bar at my house, it is only because my children have returned home and we are redistributing the stuff they can’t eat. Wondering what candy is safe to give out? My Target had a terrific display and handy list of ingredients.
- Remember that peanut allergies are not the only allergies. Some kids are sensitive to gluten, eggs, dairy, or others. Accommodating all food allergies can be a challenge which leads to
- Offer a non-food alternative. I’ve given out Halloween themed rubber ducks, Play-dough (although it’s not safe for kids with wheat allergies), pencils, bubbles, stickers, spiders and noise makers. You can buy large quantities at Oriental Trading but since I get less than 100 kids at the door, I head to Dollar Tree. With 12 pencils or a 4 pack of eyeball bubbles for a dollar, I can offer something fun and safe without breaking the bank.
- Last – but not least – make sure trick-or-treaters know you are part of the Teal Pumpkin project. Paint a pumpkin teal, hang a sign at the door, post a yard sign, or do the house up in teal. And don’t be surprised if you get a few extra thank yous. The Teal Pumpkin is such a small thing to do, but your compassion makes a huge difference to those of us on the front lines of food allergies.
Let’s be honest, I do way more than five things for my kids. Every parent does. But as this post goes to publication, I am chaperoning 250 sixth graders on a five day-four night field trip and doing so voluntarily. Or at least at the behest of my daughter. In tribute to this event, I came up with a list of five things I do for my kids that have changed my life for the better.
- I eat bananas. I refused to eat bananas as a kid. Their mushiness ruined fruit salads, peanut butter sandwiches and any other way my poor mother tried to serve them. I didn’t eat them as an adult until I noticed my daughter stopped eating them. I had to eat them if I wanted her to eat them. This case of “Monkey See, Monkey Do” worked so well, we both eat bananas and I’ve learned to tolerate their taste.
- I wear a bike helmet. If I want the kids to wear helmets, I have to wear one too.
- I coached soccer. I never played soccer. I know next to nothing about soccer, but I couldn’t bear to tell my son that once again, his team would disband because no one stepped up to coach.
- I gave up peanut butter. When she was 18 months old, my daughter tested positive for peanut and tree nut allergies. Theoretically, I could have peanut butter or peanuts in the house, but I love her more than I love peanuts and her life isn’t worth the risk. I miss the nutrition of nuts, but Trader Joe’s makes a good sunflower seed butter. And while we’re at it, Halloween is coming up for US blog followers. Check out the Teal Pumpkin project sponsored by FARE and make trick-or-treating safe and fun for all kids.
- Last, but not least, I volunteer my time whenever my kids ask me to be involved. Whether I’m reading to the class, planning a school picnic, or, as it is this week, standing on a platform 30 feet off the ground to help with a tree-top ropes course, my kids know I am there for them.
May 11th through May 17th marks Food Allergy Awareness Week. Roughly 15 million Americans have food allergies and the numbers are rising. Statistics vary, but chances are, if you have a child in school, at least one, and perhaps up to three, of their classmates will have a diagnosed food allergy.
I am a food allergy mom. I live with the daily knowledge that a peanut butter sandwich could cause my daughter to have an anaphylactic reaction. We are a peanut free household for that reason. Our trips to the grocery store involve more time reading labels and taking precautions like not buying grapes if they are displayed with bulk nuts.
I’m proud to support food allergy research. If your life has been affected by food allergies, consider supporting research to understand why rates are increasing and how to prevent the body’s attack on nutrient rich food. Let’s face it, if you’ve ever complained about not getting a pack of peanuts on an airplane, food allergies have touched your life.
To learn more or support research, visit Food Allergy Research and Education.