Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick Or Treat? Gluten Free Halloween

Happy Halloween!

A lot of parents must be scrambling right about now to figure out what to do for their gluten free kiddos.

"Do we take them Trick Or Treating?

Do we take them to a movie and avoid the holiday?"

How do you explain to your hyped-up four or six year old that they can't have all of the same candy treats that all of their friends will be enjoying at local pumpkin patches and carnivals?

* * *

My three children eat a 'normal' diet, whatever that means. However, four years later I still eat strictly gluten free despite my supposedly negative HLA-DQ tests.

I *feel* better gluten free. During the handful of months that I 'broke' my gluten free diet in 2010, my health plummeted rapidly with autoimmune symptoms abounding. It didn't take long for me to realize that whether or not I have a celiac diagnosis, I have a better quality of daily life when I am gluten free.

So, I'm still a gluten free lady... and a gluten free mom.

I'm lucky though because at the age of 35 it is pretty easy for me to 'deny' myself gluten-filled treats. (It doesn't feel like deprivation at all!)

When people ask me,

"How do you DO that? Don't you miss eating normally?"

I reply quite honestly, "I love feeling well, and any food that makes me feel terrible really isn't something I miss in the slightest."


It would be really different if I were a little kid.

* * *

One of my dear friends has a darling seven year old daughter that suffers from ulcerative colitis. To help heal her gut, she has been on a very intense "Specific Carbohydrate Diet" which eliminates all sugar, refined grains and starch from the diet. Her daughter has been on the diet now for over four years, and is absolutely thriving.

Halloween, birthday parties, classroom parties, spontaneous snacks - these are all really difficult for my friend to navigate for her daughter though.

For Halloween, my friend came up with something really ingenious that I thought was so great, I've been using it with my own children.

She allows her daughter to go Trick-Or-Treating with all of her friends, with the strict understanding that she will not eat the candy but rather bring it back home.

Once her little girl brings the candies home in her bucket, she and her mother make a celebration of counting them out. For every ten small candies her daughter collects, my friend gives her the choice of a small toy from a bucket of toys she has collected over the years from 99cent stores.

Her daughter is elated by the chance to earn so many toys in one evening! She loves Halloween because she still gets to enjoy the costumes and fun, without feeling left out. She still gets treasures. She just doesn't eat all of the candy.

(My friend also makes sure that she prepares all of her daughter's favorite 'desserts' such as almond flour banana bread and special yogurt... so that her tummy feels 'treated' as well.)

* * *

Even though my children do not have food allergies, I loved her idea so much that we have now implemented it now in our home for three years.

We take our three kids trick or treating and then trade them toys for their candies. I bake gluten free cookies to have on hand, with ice cream. They are thrilled about the fun, the toys and the dessert. In the end, they always forget about the candy.

Still... for those who really love Halloween candy and don't feel like trading Hot Wheels for Hershey's, here are some good resources to help gluten free families navigate their way through gluten free trick-or-treating:

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
(thanks to Sure Foods Living)

Gluten Free Candy List 2011

2011 Gluten-Free Candy List

Gluten Free Candy, as of October 2011