By Lisa Luck & Garrett Powell
Halloween is a time to dress up and scare your neighbors, but for parents of children with food allergies, that isn’t the only frightening thing. Food allergies are very serious and can be life-threatening. Approximately 1 in 13 children in the United States has some type of food allergy. That is why Food Allergy Research & Education, aka FARE, launched the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014. FARE’s goal was to “Raise Awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.” No parent ever wants their child to feel left out. That is why families across the world are showing support for this movement by handing out small toys instead of candy on Halloween.
The Teal Pumpkin Project inadvertently helps combat the ever growing problem of childhood obesity and children with type 2 diabetes. The CDC predicts that one in three people will have diabetes by 2050 if the current diet trends continue. The average American consumes around 128 grams of sugar per day. The World Health Organization is urging that sugar consumption be reduced to at most 50 grams per day on a 2000 calorie diet, but strongly advocates getting consumption down to 25 grams per day. Candy-laden holidays like Halloween obviously aren’t helping, but the facts about this holiday are frighteningly eye-opening.
On average, about 4 percent of the candy consumed in the entire country happens on Halloween. Now that may not seem like a lot, but to put that into perspective, the average trick-or-treater will consume about 3 cups of sugar, equivalent to 220 sugar packets! Plus, the average fun sized candy bar contains 60-100 calories each.
So what can you do?
Last year not only did families in all 50 states participate but so did families in 14 other countries. This movement is growing fast and you can be a part of it by following these simple steps:
- Place a teal pumpkin outside of your home indicating to your neighbors that you have non-edible treats. This pumpkin can be either painted teal or you can purchase one from FARE’s website. You can also go onto foodallergy.org to print out a free FARE sign explaining the meaning of the teal pumpkin to educate your neighbors.
- Instead of food you can provide your trick-or-treaters with little gifts such as toys, Halloween themed rings or stickers, or even bubbles. These items are easily found at any local discount store and are cheaper than most bags of candy!
Cut back on the sugar tips:
Now, you may go ahead and delve out the toys in honor of the Teal Pumpkin Project, but if your kids are doing old fashioned trick-or-treating, you may not be able to ditch all of the candy this year. The good news is that you can still help them cut back. Try practicing the “Rule of One.” Allow your child his or her favorite candy bar just once a day or divvy up your candy into 100 calorie groups and allow only one group to be eaten per day. Another is to let kids enjoy their gum. Each piece of gum contains only 5 to 15 calories plus it keeps their mouth busy for a while. And you prep for the busy winter season, don’t forget to toss all of the Halloween candy after a week or two – they’ve likely forgotten about it!