Health, Healthy Living

Tricky Treat – Halloween with Food Allergies

It’s that time of year again!  Pumpkin monsters, witchy goings-on and truckloads of chocolate, sweets and all things sugary.  Lots of scary fun for everyone, but if you suffer from allergies; or, like me, are a parent of a severely allergic child, then Halloween can become scary for many more reasons.  However, this needn’t be the case with some careful planning and communication. I have listed some tried and tested tips below to help make your Halloween as allergy-friendly as possible:

 

Presence of a responsible person

  • Ensure that there is always an adult who has had adrenaline pen training within your child’s group of trick or treaters.  If your child is a teenager and prefers to go with a group of friends, ensure that their friends are all aware of the allergies and potential risk if an allergen is eaten.  Highlight the importance of not eating unfamiliar treats, and checking ingredient lists.
  • In my experience, if their friends are old enough to understand the potential risks, they are usually very supportive.

 

Teach awareness of allergens

  • Teach your child about their allergens.  Tell them how important it is not to eat any treats if they have never had them before and are unsure about them.  
  • Emphasise the importance of always reading the listed ingredients, even if they have had that particular treat before.  Some confectionery manufacturers do change their recipes and packaging on occasion which can increase the risk of ingesting potential allergens.
  • Ensure your child understands that they must never eat unwrapped sweets, or those with no ingredient list, even if they look familiar.  Many companies manufacture their own versions of more well-known brands, but may not necessarily use the same suppliers, ingredients or factories.
  • Teach your child that it is okay to politely refuse a treat that obviously contains their allergens, such a nutty chocolate bar for a child with a nut allergy, explaining why they cannot have it.  This will be much easier if your child wears some sort of allergy alert jewellery, or even has an allergy alert badge pinned to their Halloween treat bag, especially if they are older and do not have an adult accompanying them.

‘Damage control’

  • Ensure you have a supply of safe treats to substitute for unsafe ones if necessary.  Most children (and teenagers) will be more concerned with the number of treats in their Halloween bags than where they may have come from.
  • You can’t stop other children from eating their treats around your child, so ensure that you carry a pack of hand wipes to encourage them to clean their hands.  This helps to prevent any potential allergens being accidentally transferred to your child.

 

Going to a Halloween Party:

The ideal solution to this would be to host a Halloween party yourself, thus ensuring that you have control of all the food and drink.  However, this is not always possible for various reasons. If your child is going to a party without you, then ensure that at least one adult who will be present is adrenaline pen trained.  

Ensure that all adults present are fully aware of your child’s allergens, and have ready access to their medication and emergency plan.  Most people will exclude obvious allergens from their party menu once they know that a severely allergic child will be there. However, foods that ‘may contain traces’ may still be present, as might less common allergens such as chicken or chickpea products.

You should consider sending your child to the party with their own food.  You must still ensure that you communicate your child’s allergies to the party hosts even if you decide to do this.

 

Trick-or-Treat Allergy Safety Checklist

  • Adrenaline autoinjector pens, and emergency care plan
  • Inhalers if used
  • A fully-charged mobile phone with emergency contacts clearly listed
  • An appropriately trained adult
  • Safe treats to swap for unsafe ones if necessary
  • Hand wipes

Remember, communication is the key for an allergy-friendly Halloween.  Happy Halloween!!

 

AlliApp supports the ‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ for Halloween and we know that they can be purchased from Sainsbury’s, some pound shops and you can even make your own with a normal pumpkin and some paint. This is a fantastic initiative from the USA and we hope that in a short time that it will take off here in the UK too – don’t forget to share with family and friends without allergies the idea about checking treats and separating ones with allergens from others.

In the meantime, follow the above tips from Dr. Nicky and make sure that all of the sweets and treats your child has this Halloween are both safe and logged in AlliApp. The smart algorithms will be able to make connections between any foods consumed and any reactions, however minor or major!

Other AlliApp features include:

• Quick and easy recording of food, mood and symptoms after eating each meal or snack
• Options to list ingredients or photograph packaging to record potential allergens in your food
• Options to record medication, appointments and results
• Inbuilt camera to photograph your meals, snacks or reactions for your records
• Recording of any symptoms or reactions to foods

With Premium AlliApp you can also:

• Track the air quality
• Create and save vital health reports from your data
• Backdate meals, mood and symptoms
• Create family profiles

Clinical trial results with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust indicated that on average, the amount of appointments required for an allergy diagnosis reduced from an average of six to two with use of AlliApp.  Our research has shown that there are many people who suffer from undiagnosed allergies for much longer, even years!  AlliApp is proud to be able to significantly reduce the time spent by those suffering allergies and help those individuals and families find the answers they need sooner.

AlliApp isn’t just for making that initial diagnosis, it is excellent at supporting you in maintaining an allergy free diet and lifestyle; and inputting data couldn’t be faster or simpler.

Dr Nicky, PhD, MBPsS - AlliApp Science

Nicky has a background in Radiography, Neuroscience and Psychology research. She is Mum to two girls, aged thirteen and eleven; both of whom have a combination of severe food allergies, food intolerances, asthma, eczema and hay fever. As such, she has spent her entire life as a parent finding ways to manage this, with a huge focus on food preparation, educating her daughters’ peers and their families about allergy awareness, and diet.

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