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Tricks for managing food allergies at Halloween

Guide to treats

Kids love Halloween – carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, trick-or-treating.

But for families managing food allergies, Halloween can be more of a trick than a treat.

Food allergies are much more prevalent than they were even five or 10 years ago. One in 13 U.S. children has a food allergy – roughly two in every classroom, says Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). For these kids, even a tiny amount of their allergen can cause a severe reaction.

Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat – some of the most common allergens in children and adults. And many miniature or fun-size versions of candy treats contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts; some may not have labels, so it’s hard for parents to know which items are safe for their child with food allergies.

So FARE puts a twist on trick-or-treating with Teal Pumpkin Project, encouraging non-food treats as a safe, fun alternative to candy. Items like stickers, glow-sticks, pencils, bracelets, bubbles or bookmarks appeal to all kids.

“It makes trick or treating so much more enjoyable if safe alternatives are available for kids to choose. It lets kids with food allergies participate without feeling different from other children,” says nurse practitioner Sara Gergen, APRN, CPNP-PC, NNP-BC.

Teal Pumpkin’s interactive map shows which homes will give non-food treats on Halloween – parents can plan their route, and add their home to the national map.

And Teal Pumpkin has free materials to download for Halloween fun, like activity sheets, masks and posters. Find your treats at FARE’s website: www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project

Want to connect with local families managing food allergies? The Food Allergy Support Group meets on Monday, November 13 from 7:00-8:30 pm at Northfield Hospital. For information, contact Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD at 507-646-1410 or winkelsk@northfieldhospital.org.