As a mom of a child who is gluten-intolerant, Halloween is not the most allergy-friendly holiday out there. Until we learned our daughter was gluten-intolerant, we never considered allergies when choosing our Halloween treats. If the candy was on sale and had a cute Halloween picture on the front of the package, it was just as likely to be handed out as any other type of Halloween treat. But, that all changed after we realized that gluten was a problem.
Because Halloween is focused so much around handing out candy, allergies and food intolerances can be a huge issue for some children. Thankfully there are a few simple things that you can do when planning Halloween celebrations.
If you’re planning a celebration at your home or at school, please make a few allergy-friendly treats. This can mean gluten-free cupcakes or peanut-free cookies or healthy treats like fresh fruit for those that have allergies to MSG or hidden artificial ingredients in many processed foods.
When putting together a party, be sure that you prepare your allergy-friendly treats with utensils that haven’t been used for other food. Make sure that you use a new cutting board and knife and put the treats on a separate plate so they don’t come in contact with food that may not be safe. It can help to put up warning tags on foods that may not be allergy safe. You can make a cute pumpkin-shaped note card that says “contains peanuts” to place next to the peanut butter cookies.
When you’re picking out your Halloween candy to hand out to the trick or treaters, consider choosing more than one type of candy. If you offer a few different types of candy, it’s more likely that you’ll have something that a child with food allergies can enjoy. Or, you might want to avoid the candy that contains foods that are often allergens like nuts or cracker/cookie fillings. Chewy fruit squares or chocolate-covered peppermint candies are more often allergy-friendly.
Consider a few non-candy alternatives for Halloween. You can buy pencils, little plastic figures, mini boxes of crayons, tattoos, etc. Toss a handful of those into the treat bowl in case a child can’t eat any of the treats you offer. Children who have to watch their sugar will certainly appreciate being able to pick something they can really enjoy.
And, remember to let the child choose their treat rather than you dropping something in their bag. They know what they can have!