When you grabbed that bag of Snickers for trick or treaters at the super market and threw it into your shopping cart, did you also think about children with diabetes or food allergies? What are you going to hand out to them?
“My child has type 1 diabetes and I let him eat candy, but I don’t let him eat five pounds of candy all at once,” Malissa Sarver, dietician at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Portsmouth, said. “I do non-food items like stickers, finger flashlights and glow-sticks.”
Sarver said last year, while she and her husband were camping, there was a little boy who was trick or treating with his siblings. The boy was in a wheelchair and was tube feeding.
“He was so excited to get glow-sticks so that he could have something that he could have fun with,” Sarver said.
Sarver said people should consider that all children, including those with health issues, want to have fun at Halloween.
“It’s fine to get candy, and even if your kids don’t have any kind of an issue, you still don’t want your kid to have a trash bag full of candy,” Sarver said.
One of the most prevalent allergies is the peanut allergy, and in some cases, chocolate candy is produced in the same plant where peanuts are processed as well.
“Even if that candy doesn’t have peanuts in it they can still have that anaphylactic reaction, because it’s made where peanuts are processed,” Sarver said. “So kids with food allergies, kids with diabetes, kids who may be on tube feeding for whatever reason, need to be considered.”
Sarver said she has friends with autistic children and their diets also affect them.
“You never know what some of these kids are going through,” Sarver said. “If you want to offer candy, you can still offer both.”
At the forefront of the issue is the Teal Pumpkin Project. People around the world have been touched by the message of the Teal Pumpkin Project: that all kids deserve to have a safe and happy Halloween. One mom said, “It’s an amazing initiative. It’s hard for kids to have food allergies, as they often feel ‘different’ to others. I speak from experience and for my little child.”
Sarver said it is important for people to know that handing out an alternative item doesn’t cost a lot of money. She said finger flashlights, glow sticks, stickers, pencils, erasers and other items can be purchased online.
Available at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops, these low-cost items can be purchased and handed out to all trick-or-treaters, or made available in a separate bowl from candy if you choose to hand out both options. Nearly all of these items can be found in a Halloween theme or festive colors.
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.