Guest Post from Teen Advisory Group member Govind Menon
I absolutely love Halloween. It is the one day in the year where it is perfectly acceptable to go door to door demanding treats, all while having the opportunity to dress up in the wackiest costumes you can dream up. It is a complete reprieve from the societal norms of everyday life. The day allows you to cut free and enjoy, and you are expected to end the night with a pile of goodies... honestly, what could be better?!
Now entering my senior year of high school, I’ve fallen into the role of being the candy and non-food treat giver rather than the bubbling child darting from house to house. However, reflecting back on my younger years, I never allowed my allergies to take the fun out of Halloween. I’m a strong believer in situations only being as poor as you make them out to be — a positive outlook can change everything.
Sure, I would come home many times with a haul of treats composed predominantly of chocolate, chocolates with peanuts, and more milk chocolate. I’d pass those over to my brother and focus on those sweet and sour treats that were both sugary and free of the top eight allergens.
With time I further learned to ask people handing out candy if they had treats that suited my dietary restrictions, and they often found items I could eat with a bit of prompting! I found that allergies are a part of my life, but I have to look at the glass as being half-full. My allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame, shellfish, and avocado are limiting, but I fail to let them be a defining characteristic of mine; woe ain’t me.
So, what now? I now look to make sure as many people as possible are aware of the hardships food allergic kids face on Halloween, raising awareness in my school by planning a Teal Pumpkin Project® painting event for my entire high school and asking parents in my neighborhood not to open candy wrappers before giving out the candy due to concerns over food allergic kids directly handling candy they are severely allergic to.
All in all, keep your head up! Take Halloween for what it is: an opportunity to dress up and roam around in search of safe treats! Have a blast this Halloween and remember to always be safe — when in doubt, read those ingredient labels!
Govind and the other Teen Summit Innovation Tank finalists will be presenting their innovative ideas to help improve the lives of those with food allergies at the 12th Annual FARE Teen Summit this November in Newport Beach, CA. If you have or are an 11-22 year old with food allergies, join us there!