Peanut Allergies and Halloween
Peanut Allergies Halloween Parties
Halloween will make any peanut allergy and food allergy parent shriek with terror! Between trick or treating, class parties, home parties, it seems like a haven of danger!! There is the peanut butter candy, the caramel apples covered in nuts, the cookies that “look safe”, and cupcakes at parties that your child can’t have and make him feel excluded. Here are some tricks (and treats) I have personally used and gathered from other peanut allergy parents.
Trick or Treating – In many neighborhoods, kids still want to go trick or treating. I do not want to take the experience away from my peanut allergy child. On the other hand, I will take the candy away from him! I take him around with other parents and his friends we collect candy. We do politely decline any Pay Day candy bars, Reeses Peanut Butter cups, Snickers, or anything else made with nuts and explain that we really can’t have it in the bag. He usually ends up collecting cash from these people (just a dollar or so but it makes him feel good!).
When we get back to “home base”, we give every single bit of that candy to the other kids and I fill up his bag with the safe candy and little party toys I bought him. This allows him the experience of trick or treating and showing off his costume with none of the danger.
Class Halloween Parties – I am “that parent’ – you know, the annoying, in your face type of parent every food allergy parent said they would not be (well until their child is diagnosed with a life threatening food allergy). We are all “that parent” that we swore we’d never be! Well, other parents still bring cakes, and candy, and cookies to class Halloween parties. While I haven’t been successful at completely stopping the distribution of food at the school, I have been successful at not allowing parents to bring peanut-based products into the class due to risk of airborne and contact peanut allergic reactions. My son has his own pile of peanut free snacks for these special occasions that I brought. So, the teacher simply gives him his special treat out of that pile. He never eats any store baked goods, homemade things from others, or anything I cannot read due to cross contamination.
Kids Parties – Too bad we can’t control what is served at kid’s parties, right? Luckily, many parents know about Jude’s allergy so will try not to serve anything with peanuts in it. Yet, I did have one of my friends from high school ask if it was okay to serve everyone peanut butter chicken with Jude (my peanut allergy son) around? I never understood that one! But, we always always always (should I say it again) bring our own food to parties. We don’t know people’s kitchens and what they cooked in the pan before making the party food, we don’t know the ingredients of each item on the food table, and we don’t eat any baked goods. So, of course we bring our own food!
In the book, Jude the Dude: The Peanut Allergy Kid, Jude has a Peanut Safe Halloween, Jude has his own party. He makes his own cake after telling the baker at the store he cannot eat store-bought baked goods. He reads labels in the store while buying the ingredients to make his own cake (with his mom of course) and he makes a fabulous cake! He also makes cheese bat sandwiches which later he finds out his friend, Henry, is allergic to. In the story, the mom puts the bat sandwiches away and has everyone wash their hands. Then, they go back to having a fabulous time. So, many life lessons about peanut and food allergies are portrayed:
- Don’t buy baked goods.
- Read Ingredients.
- Carry your Epi-Pen everywhere you go.
- Classmates/friends/adults wash hands after touching a food allergen.
- Parties are about having fun! (well, that one is just in there for fun!)
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