Making Halloween fun for kids with severe food allergies

LAKE FOREST, Calif.—Traditionally, the scariest thing about Halloween is the costumes. These days, with food allergies affecting one in 25 school-aged children, the line between “trick or treat” is getting blurred. When a tiny bite of candy can cause a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction, the candy isn’t much of a “treat” after all.

So what can parents do to make Halloween both fun and safe for their severely food-allergic children? In her book, How To Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life, Linda Coss provides the following ideas:

Stay Home. If this is the first child in the household, convince him or her that it is truly special and fun to stay home and distribute treats to the children who come to the door. (Pity those poor other children who are missing out on the excitement of opening the door and seeing all the wonderful costumes).

Get Help From Your Neighbors. “Secretly” go around the neighborhood in advance of Halloween night and distribute safe candy for your neighbors to (discreetly) give to your child when you come by.

Throw a Party. On Halloween night, host a party at your home featuring fun activities and safe food.

Trade Candy. Go trick-or-treating with your child. When you get home, trade all of the unsafe candies for safe candy that you have purchased in advance or for a non-food “prize.”

How To Manage is an easy-to-use reference manual that gives parents the detailed information they need to create a safe home, school and social life for their severely food-allergic child. Coss is also the author of the popular What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook. Both books are available at, from, and from various booksellers nationwide.

From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2005, issue

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