Some find the adventure of hunting for the best candy the most fun part of the 31st of October (Halloween). Others find just the excuse to dress up and hang out with friends part to be the most fun but at the end of the night, most (kids especially) are very excited to dump open that bag, box or jack-o-lantern full of candy and see what treats are inside. Ripping open the wrappers of the sweet little treats and popping them into the mouth, seems to be what all of Halloween was designed to be.
Now imagine an 11-year-old child who is dressed up in her adorable hipster bee costume ready for this Halloween fun. Her mom has become very nervous about this year of trick or treating because her little bee has just been diagnosed with severe food allergies- a multitude of foods could seriously harm and/or kill her.
All the child wants to do is be normal with her friends and for the previous 11 years this never seemed to be an issue. One bite of dairy, peanut, sesame, orange or vanilla could send her to the hospital now. The food allergies just popped up one day for no known reason. In the last six months this child had gone to the ER six times with severe stomach pain, vomiting, hives and headaches.
There are more and more exceptions of children not able to go out on Halloween though, not because of religious reasons and not because they are confined to a hospital bed, but because they suffer from life-threatening food allergies. These little youngsters are not alone as it is more and more common for adults to be diagnosed, as well.
Over 150 million people around the globe suffer from food allergies and many of those diagnosed have multiple food allergies. In the United States we have 10 foods identified as the most common food allergies. Guess what? Most of those food offenders are found in candy (Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Soy, Dairy, Sesame, Corn, Wheat, Fish, and Shellfish).
To date there is no cure for food allergies but let’s not allow a child to be crushed by candy this season. With a little bit of compassion and some creative thinking we can take the proper steps to work together to give the 15 million, diagnosed individuals with food allergies in the U.S., a normal life.
Consider handing out small tricks instead of treats (a little light up ring, a toy solider, a matchbox car, a princess pencil.) Sure it is not as fun as stuffing our faces with chocolate covered peanut caramels, but it will save us the heartache of extra holiday pounds, acne and potentially killing an innocent child who just wants to partake in the fun of Halloween.
Food Allergy Parents across the United States are reaching out on every food allergy Facebook group, online support group, and other form of social media to ask others in their neighborhood to stock some allergen safe treats or tricks for their little youngsters. Many parents are even making the goodies themselves and bringing them to the neighbors with a picture of their kid in costume saying- "when you see this kid, please give them this special treat that is safe for them."