Just the other day as I was getting out the fall decorations my daughter asked about Halloween. She wanted to know what we would be giving to the Trick-or-Treaters this year. Before I could answer she blurted out, “Please, not healthy treats!” She immediately followed up with, “Can we give out cool stuff again?” Of course we can give out cool stuff!
For several years we have been giving healthy treats for Halloween but the last couple of years I decided that non-food treats were even better. Children get excited about small gifts like glow-stick bracelets, bouncy balls, vampire teeth and even bubbles and that makes me happy because I feel like I’m doing my part to help decrease their sugar intake for the next few days, weeks and even months. Halloween is what I call the beginning of Sugar Season.
Some families experience a lot of added stress during Halloween. I’m not talking about the stress of finding the right costume, staying up late or attending too many parties. The stress comes because there are children who have food allergies, diabetes, and other special diets. This means that these kids just can’t eat whatever their neighbors give out or whatever is served at the party. While there is no way possible for every party or every thoughtful neighbor to follow all the special dietary restrictions that would accommodate everyone, there is a movement that can help.
There is a really amazing movement that started a few years ago, it’s called Teal Pumpkin Project. Food Allergy Research Education- FARE wants to promote safety, inclusion and respect for individuals who are managing food allergies or when candy is not an option. This idea keeps Halloween a fun and positive experience for all!
How serious is this really?
In the United States 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy. For these children even a tiny exposure has the potential to cause a severe and even life-threatening reactions. Any food can cause these types of reactions and popular candy contains many of the typical allergens; nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, corn or soy. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to help families recognize homes that are providing non-food items. By placing a teal pumpkin on your porch you are letting children and parents know that you are offering non-food items and giving many children the opportunity receive something that they can keep and enjoy.
As I spend more time coaching families and individuals on making healthy lifestyle changes especially in their diet I am becoming more and more aware of just how sensitive people are to food. I’m not talking about allergies and life threatening sensitivities I’m talking about sensitivities that influence behavior, and immune function in such a way that they are more susceptible to getting sick, to lack energy and stamina or have trouble concentrating and learning. For this reason I have taken the Teal Pumpkin Project Pledge and you will find a beautifully painted pumpkin on my porch this year along with the cool stuff we will give to trick-or-treaters!