Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of managing Halloween with food allergies? It’s understandable. It can be a very fun time of year, but also a little complex for those living with food allergies. We have got your back, here are some of our top tips for getting through the Halloween season (and even enjoying it!).
Take it one step at a time.
You start thinking about Halloween and all of the different challenges and soon it is overwhelming. Ok it’s time to stop for a moment, take a breath and tackle it one step at a time. When things are overwhelming it is much easier to manage in bite sized chunks.
What will make you happy?
One way to think of challenging events with food allergies is to consider what will make you happy. What do you want to do? As a family? Your child? Is trick or treating important to you, are the kids excited, do you really want to attend that party, will it provide a nice connection for your family? Then consider how you can make it work for you. Not getting involved can seem like the easy option but it might not be what is best for your family. We have to navigate our way through challenges in order to live life to the full.
Take some of the focus off food
Consider non-food Halloween events or options. Have a chat about the history of Halloween and how it started. Spend time having fun decorating your house. Anything that takes some of the focus off of the food.
Be a host
We know this is standard for many allergy families and can add to the pressure but it can also allow you to have fun in a more relaxed environment. Consider hosting a Halloween get together or dress up your house and have some great allergy friendly treats and engage with your community by handing out treats.
Ok so the kids are desperate to go Trick or Treating…..
Trick or treating is different with differing allergies and for each family and how they manage their allergies. Over the years we have come across some great ideas for trick or treating with allergies.
Allow your child to trick or treat and collect any wrapped lollies and when they get home they can swap with safe lollies. This allows kid to be included and just have fun when they are out and about without having to worry or ask at every door about allergens. You need to be very clear about the rules – no eating the candy while we are out. Some children carry some safe lollies so they can enjoy while they are out and a small pack of wipes to keep hands clean. Or you can have safe candy on you and swap it immediately.
Non food treats
Many houses now have non food treats at Halloween. Encourage your child to take the non food treats and provide them with safe candy to enjoy along the way.
They collect candy and leave it out overnight for the Switch Witch to replace with a present or safe candy.
We managed to get away with this when my child was little. One of us (or his older siblings or friends) went one house ahead and gave them a safe lolly to hand out to him when he arrived. This worked until he was about 5 and then it was pretty obvious 😉 It was fun as he was able to join in and a little easier than the concept of swapping when they are young.
Preparation is key with all things food allergies.
Have your medication with you at all times. Consider how you will carry your medication when you are planning your costume!
Have a plan for how you will approach events and trick or treating. Ensure the whole family understands the plan ahead of time.
Contact those organising the event if possible and discuss allergies and allergy management.
Preparing your child
Clearly outline the plan, your family approach and rules around trick or treating. In the week or so before get into some role play with them. Practice scenarios and how they can handle them and what they should say.
Outline your family rules and expectations around trick or treating and Halloween events. Discuss different scenarios and how they could handle them, including peer pressure to eat unsafe or unknown foods. Ensure they have a plan to carry their medication.
Don’t forget to prep your school. They may do Halloween activities and even a trick or treating style event. It is best to get ahead of it. Go in and chat to your teacher about their plans and the school’s plans for Halloween. Work with them to consider how your child can be included in the fun.
Amazing now you have planned it all – go out and have some spooky fun!!!