Trick or Treat
Ready or not, Halloween is just around the corner, which to me, always signals the start of a fun filled holiday season. It also strikes up some concern about keeping children safe in regards to food allergies, and concerns about ALL THAT EXTRA SUGAR we will all be surrounded with.
So what can be done to make sure we keep our kids safe if they have food allergies? I've spent many hours thinking about this because I witnessed my own daughter have an allergic reaction to peanuts and cashews a couple of years ago. Since then, I've realized that communication is essential to keep children safe. I've learned to be her voice and that no question is too silly to ask, whether it’s at a restaurant, birthday party, or school. I've also learned to teach her to speak up for herself as well, and to talk to her about her food allergy. If your child is allergic to certain foods it's important to keep the following tips in mind:
Working with a registered dietitian is extremely important to help plan meals and snacks; Doing so will ensure that all daily nutrient needs are being met, while still avoiding allergens.
Some children are allergic to multiple foods, which can make it extremely challenging for them to meet all of their daily nutrient needs their growing bodies require.
Talk to your child: they need to be aware of their allergy.
Always have your child’s EpiPen and/or Benadryl, OR make sure they have it with them. Be confident in knowing when and how to use
Consider having a special designated bag or carrier for the medication that you, your child, and everyone involved in their care are aware of
Consider having your child wear an allergy alert bracelet (shown below;can be found on allermates.com and amazon.com)
When reading food labels, make sure to pay special attention to the ingredient list AND any statements about “contains”, “may contain”, “made on shared equipment with” and “made in the same facility/plant as” (whatever the allergen is). It’s so important to know the severity of your child’s food allergy by working with an allergist
If a food doesn't have a label (i.e.-halloween candies), go to the food manufacturer website such as "nestle" or " mars" to find out what their website says about the particular food. If you can't find it-don't risk eating it or feeding it to your child.
Ask what the school’s policies and procedures are regarding children w/food allergies
Ask the teachers what precautions are taken when food is brought in from the outside (b-day parties and holiday events)
Request to have "safe" treats stored in the classroom for your child so that they can still participate in bday and holiday celebrations if any celebration food is questionable
Ask where EpiPens and Benadryl are stored and who knows how to use administer
At a Birthday Party:
Ask the host or location manager ahead of time if the food contains any allergens. If they don’t know-don’t risk feeding.
Bring your child backup food just in case
At a Restaurant:
Ask the server what items on the menu are free from allergens
Better yet, call the restaurant ahead of time and speak to the kitchen manager
If it’s a repeat visit, ask again (ingredients can change at any time)
Now, about all that extra SUGAR we will all be surrounded with:
Make water or plain milk your child’s #1 beverage. Why let your child drink sugar when you know they’re going to be eating it?
Keep the candy bags out of reach so children aren’t tempted to help themselves
Set a date limit to throw all the leftover candy in the trash
Give non-candy items for Halloween or in goodie bags
Be sure to see the October nutrition newsletter (download available on the "resources" link on the website) for more tips from Pediatric Dentist, Chris Groat.
Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and healthy Halloween!