Halloween is supposed to be scary. Like fun scary though, right? I love Halloween, or I used to. My kids are too small to really enjoy Halloween. They have zero idea what we are doing or talking about actually. E thinks that every day is a good day to dress up as Lightning McQueen. So why am I so scared of Halloween? Why, food allergies, of course!
There is not one single “mainstream” piece of candy that my son can eat. Not even one. I’m not really worried about this year but I’m already worrying about next year and the next and the next. It isn’t that I don’t trust my son. I trust that I will teach my son how to make good food choices and that he will be empowered to ask if he is unsure but that won’t happen for several years. I make him practice saying “I am allergic to….” but does he know what it means? No, probably not.
I guess more than anything, I am sad. I haven’t exactly figured out how to participate in Halloween as a family with severe food allergies. I am reasonably sure that this topic will come up again at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah…and every holiday from now on but it is a very Halloween specific issue. I guess I am feeling left out. I have tons of ideas about how to trade candy with E or drop off approved treats ahead of time, but it sort of sucks the fun out of things. I am terrified of taking him to Halloween events like Trunk or Treat, downtown celebrations, or even trick or treating. I’m not only worried that he might ingest something he shouldn’t but I’m also worried about how being different might make him feel. And maybe, how it will make me feel.
I have not done a completely thorough investigation of what is in local stores that E can eat, but I have a feeling the answer is none.
Do I have a solution? No, not really. I just have this idea that maybe, if you are shopping for Halloween candy and you see something that says “peanut free,” you could buy it and put it in a special bowl for the kids with allergies and a little sign that says “peanut free treats.” Or something. Peanut allergies are not unusual anymore so even a few treats that are peanut free and are processed in a facility dedicated to being nut free might be a place to start.
No doubt some of you will be asking/saying “why do I have to change how I do things for allergy kids? I already can’t pack my kid a peanut butter sandwich because of those pesky allergy people!!!” If you are one of those people (and I’m sure you aren’t unless you stumbled on this blog by accident), let me assure you that having to come up with something besides a PB&J for your kids lunch is a really minor inconvenience compared to what our family deals with every day. Really, really minor. I can’t take my son to the grocery store anymore unless it is for a really quick trip because he starts to break out just when we walk past the meat section. Bacon went from being our favorite food to absolutely banned. If we go somewhere and eat pork, we have to wash our hands and faces before we can touch our son. We can’t go to barbecues at all anymore. We spend hours worrying about family gatherings and parties. Birthday parties with hot dogs and hamburgers? We’ll have to send you a gift. Regular cake? Not if it has dairy, eggs, or gluten.
This Halloween, if you can find it in your heart, at least start by buying something that is peanut-free (and processed in a peanut and tree nut free facility) and finding a way to make it clear that you have peanut-free candy. My kid still can’t eat it but there are lots of kids who are only allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and they deserve the full Halloween experience too!!!!!!! Or as close to full as possible.
I never ask people to share my posts but today I am asking. I am asking you and you and you to be allergy ambassadors for Halloween this year. Start small. Buy some allergy friendly candy and post a sign. Share this post and mention it to your neighbors. And the allergy parents out there? Well we will be eternally grateful and we might even cry on your doorstep.