While I post almost exclusively about bees and beekeeping here, I do want to write about something else I am passionate about. And that is food allergy awareness. In the US, 32 million people have food allergies. 5.6 million of them are children.
My son is one of them. When he was just 13 months old, he was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. His peanut allergy has changed our lives in so many ways. Halloween, for example, is now something that can be quite dangerous for him.
Halloween With Food Allergies
Some people say that kids with food allergies should simply not go trick or treating. But I find that so cruel. These are just kids who want to participate like every other kid. That’s why I’m so grateful for the Teal Pumpkin Project, which aims to bring awareness and inclusiveness to kids with food allergies.
Of course, the Teal Pumpkin Project does not in any way want to take away from the tradition of passing out Halloween candy. They just want kids with food allergies to be able to participate in Halloween in a safe way.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is responsible for those teal plastic pumpkins you may see around during Halloween time. But what does the teal pumpkin mean? This post will talk about life with food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project meaning.
There are 8 foods that cause 90% of food allergies. These are known as the Top 8 Allergens.
Top 8 Allergens
The top 8 food allergies are:
- Tree Nut
Some allergic reactions are mild, but other reactions can be severe, causing anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is life threatening.
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Swelling of the throat
- Tightening of the airways
- Low blood pressure
- Hives or rash
- Swollen mouth, lips, tongue, throat
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing, wheezing
Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies. The best thing to do is to avoid the allergen. In case of contact, treatment of anaphylaxis must be immediate in order to prevent life threatening complications.
The first line of treatment for anaphylaxis is epinephrine. Epinephrine is administered through a shot, which is why people with food allergies should always carry their epinephrine auto injector.
Living With Food Allergies
The problem is that with every exposure the child has to the allergen, you just don’t know if it will end up with a mild or severe reaction. Being that a severe reaction can cause death, parents cannot take the chance of allowing their child to come in any contact with their allergen whatsoever.
That means that holidays and special events that involve food can be quite challenging for those with food allergies. With Halloween coming up, I cannot help but to be reminded of how challenging the holiday can be for children with food allergies and their families.
Kids with food allergies want to trick or treat, just like any other kid. The difference is that most candies can be deadly to them. If more people choose to leave out non food items, as well as candy for trick or treaters, kids with food allergies can trick or treat with the rest of them. That’s why I am very grateful for the Teal Pumpkin Project and those who support it.
Teal Pumpkin Project Meaning
The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), a leading group that advocates for and helps those with food allergies. According to FARE, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a “nationwide movement that encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters.”
The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick or treaters.
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy. All you have to do is gather some non food treats for trick or treaters. Some non food treats are:
- Glow sticks
- Mini Play-doh
- Temporary Tattoos
On Halloween, place a teal pumpkin or a sign indicating that you have non food or allergy friendly treats at your house. That way, kids with food allergies will know that they can safely trick or treat at your home.
Printable Food Allergy Halloween Sign
For those who would like to participate, but don’t want to go through the hassle of painting a pumpkin teal, or buying a teal plastic pumpkin, I’d recommend using a printable food allergy Halloween sign. These signs look really great placed in a frame, or taped to a door.