By Rachel Begun, MS, RD
I may be a dietitian and advocate for healthy foods most of the time, but I believe every child should enjoy and engage in the traditions and festivities of Halloween, including those who have to eat gluten free.
It all comes down to planning ahead and parents and children deciding together what their fun and safe celebration should look like. Here are some ideas to get the discussion going:
- If trick-or-treating is a must, purchase safe treats and share them with trusted neighbors ahead of time. Provide a description of your child’s costume, and include something that is unique and memorable so your neighbors can easily identify the right ghost or goblin to give the set-aside treat to.
- Throw a costume party that includes bobbing for apples, spooky games and safe treats. This takes the emphasis off candy, which is good for both health and safety reasons. With celiac disease and food allergies on the rise, you can find many children (and parents) who’ll be more than happy to attend.
- Do a candy swap. Does your child have a toy, game or book they’ve been asking for? Have them cash in their candy for a non-food treat. It’ll last much longer than the candy.
- As your children get a little older, make trick-or-treating a teachable moment. Together, go through their bag of candy piece by piece to identify which candy isn’t safe to eat and replace them with ones that are.
Whether or not you’re a kid, candy is hard to avoid on Halloween. Friendly co-workers have candy dishes on their desks, and many cafes and eateries offer complimentary treats near the register. It’s good for all of us to be aware of what candy is or is not gluten free. MyGlutenFacts.com and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness share downloadable PDFs of gluten-free candy lists on their websites.
Rachel Begun, MS, RD is a food and nutrition communicator. She provides education, communications and consulting services to health organizations and the food industry. She also educates the public via speaking opportunities, online activities and writing for publications, including her own blog, The Gluten Free RD. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest via her website at www.rachelbegun.com.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness offers Vitacost.com website visitors weekly recipes and blogs about living the gluten-free lifestyle. For more information about celiac disease and gluten-free living, visit www.celiaccentral.org.