Putting the fun back into Halloween for food-allergic kids
Author: Anne Hendrickson
When I was a kid, we didn’t worry much about how safe our Halloween treats were. Sure, there were those unwrapped items that our moms quickly whisked away, or those that contained things we didn’t like. If we were lucky, we could make a trade for something we liked better with siblings, or hand them over to Dad – the only one in the house who would eat coconut.
The picture is a little different today. With more people being diagnosed with food allergy, there are more families concerned about what might land in the trick-or-treat bag and how it could impact their children. According to the CDC, reported food allergy increased 18 percent from 1997 to 2007. They updated the numbers in 2013, showing food allergies among kids increasing approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) took the issue on with its Teal Pumpkin Project last year. The Project’s aim is to expand food allergy awareness by encouraging the public to provide non-food treat options to trick-or-treaters who might have food allergies. In addition to providing alternate treats, FARE encourages placing a teal pumpkin at your door or by posting a simple sign indicating that you support the project and have non-food treats available. They’ve made a variety of materials available at no cost on their website, https://www.foodallergy.org, including posters, ideas for treats, etc.
Along with supporting FARE’s efforts, Allergychoices continues to help providers implement treatment that addresses food allergy using sublingual immunotherapy. The treatment protocol, The La Crosse Method, has been developed over 45 years at Allergy Associates of La Crosse to help patients build tolerance to offending allergens. For some patients with less severe food allergies, it can mean they’re able to eat the things they love without symptoms. For others with more severe allergies, the goal may be to build enough tolerance so they don’t have a life-threatening reaction if they accidentally ingest a problematic food.
The end goal of efforts like ours, and FARE’s, is to make life less scary for those who are food allergic. And with efforts like the Teal Pumpkin project, we can promote events that are more inclusive for food allergic kids who often times had to forego the treats – and sometimes the simple fun – of Halloween.