Fear Not! Trick or Treating Made Easy
"Managing your food allergies is always hard, but by working with your friends and family to keep you safe and involved, you can always find a way to enjoy every event and holiday."
Guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Annika Santhanam
On October 31st, the ghouls, ghosts, and witches come out…..and so does the candy!
Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. I always enjoy dressing up in cool costumes, hanging out with my friends, and of course, going out to Trick or Treat. But due to my food allergies, Trick or Treating in my early childhood was always shrouded in a cloak of anxiety. I experienced fear of accidentally eating candy I was allergic to and disappointment over my inability to eat any of the candy in my basket.
Over the years, advocating for food allergy awareness has helped me gain valuable experience in navigating and enjoying Halloween without anxiety. Here are some tips I’d like to share to help make every Halloween a memorable and enjoyable experience!
- Buddy up! Trick or Treat with friends that understand your food allergies
Trick or Treating with food allergies can give both children and parents anxiety over safety, but when going out with friends that understand your food allergies, a lot of concerns about safety can be easily resolved. Team up with loyal friends to make your own team of Trick or Treating Avengers! Friends can also look out for you and help prevent you from accidentally eating candies that may put you at risk. With your friends, you can also set up an emergency plan of action to ensure that they know how to help you in case you need assistance.
- Use a candy swap system
Having a basket filled with candy that you’re allergic to isn’t a fun experience. Over the years, I’ve learned a perfect way to get the candy you want without missing out. As your friends travel to different houses, regroup together and perform a candy swap! Trade your unsafe candy for candy you’re not allergic to from one of your friends. I’ve always walked away from Trick or Treating with plenty of candy to eat that's free of my allergens.
Additionally, try not to eat any candy in your basket if it lacks an ingredient label or if it is too dark to read it. Alternatively, bring some food allergy-friendly snacks of your own to eat along the way!
- Leave a teal pumpkin at your door
Besides keeping yourself safe during Trick or Treating, you can also help other food-allergic kids to stay safe and have fun during the holiday! Place a teal pumpkin or a Teal Pumpkin Project sign at your door along with a separate bowl of non-candy items that you can give to Trick or Treaters. This way, food-allergic kids will know that your house has non-candy items that they can choose as a safe treat. And don't forget to tell your town about your teal pumpkin by pinning your house on the Teal Pumpkin Project Map.
Above all, have fun! Managing your food allergies is always hard, but by working with your friends and family to keep you safe and involved, you can always find a way to enjoy every event and holiday. Happy Halloween and have fun Trick or Treating!