Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Treatless Halloween

Food Allergies are a big deal in our house.  Jaxson is allergic to dairy, soy, coconut, peanuts and is on a mostly gluten free and dye free diet as well.  What does that mean for holidays?  It means it's a battle!  

For the last few years we have had a "Treat Troll".  While the boys are out trick-or-treating the troll comes and brings toys and presents to the house.  The only thing is we have to leave the treats on the door step for the toys from the troll to appear (a little smoke and mirrors goes a long way with kids).  We put this picture on our door so when the kids get back from trick-or-treating they know the troll came. The go inside find their toys and then hurry and check the porch to see if the troll snatched their candy. 

This has worked in the past.  However it's been a struggle to not get the boys to eat the candy WHILE we are trick-or-treating. It can be very heart breaking for a mother to watch her child want something and time after time have to tell them no.

We all have that 'mom instinct'. A thought or feeling where we know that something isn't right even though we have no real concrete proof. This feeling came almost 2 years ago with my little Stanley. He was having a hard time talking, would lay on the floor screaming, bang his head until there were bruises and just be angry or trying to hit everyone. I took him to our pediatrician and was told "That's just what 2 year olds do. He'll grow out of it sometime. Just make sure there is nothing around him that can hurt him when here's having his fit." I knew that's there was more to it than that. From there I started looking into food allergies and a good friend told me that it looked like he had an allergy to red dye. What?!?! Who has an allergy to food coloring? I'd heard of gluten, dairy, peanut and shell fish allergies. But what has red dye in it...EVERYTHING! We went to our cupboard and fridge and had to throw away most of out food. We changed the things that we normally purchased at the grocery store and what foods we use to cook with. 

Here are just a few things that contain red dye (aka caramel color): 
-ice cream 
-Mac and cheese 
-most fruit snacks 
-most fruit juices 
-beef bouillon 
-bacon bits 
-BBQ sauce 
-all sodas that aren't clear 
-salad dressings 

Can you see how this is not a fun allergy to have? I figured I'd try it for a few weeks and let her know that it didn't work...boy was I wrong! We noticed a HUGE difference after only 2 days. He started talking in full sentences, he stopped banging his head on things, he was happy and wanted to play with his brother again and he stopped hitting and screaming. Wow! I had my normal 2 year old again! Yes he still had tantrums, what toddler doesn't, but he had more control and could process things better. We have been off of all red dye for almost 2 years now and life is so much better.

We still have bad days because red dye can be found in so many foods and a lot of people don't read labels before giving my kids food. But for the most part we have our diets figured out. The hardest times are birthday parties, Halloween and extended family get togethers. I am constantly filling my purse with dye free snacks for the little guys to eat so that when we are out and about they aren't left out from eating a yummy treat. Please remember food allergies when you are purchasing you Halloween or other holiday treats. Little ones love stickers and pencils as much as any other treat!

We are not alone in this battle. In 2012, 5.6% or 4.1 million children reported food allergies. source  That is means that there are at least 4.1 million parents who have to struggle with candy on holidays.  The Teal Pumpkin Project is a great resource to help those children who have food allergies have as much fun as those who don't.  We are challenging all of you to participate.  We will!  We will be posting pictures of our teal pumpkins in the coming weeks.
Please use the links to print signs and posters.  Share them on your social media.  Bringing awareness is half the battle.

Teal Pumpkin Sign Printable

Teal Pumpkin Flyer Printable

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