Think Outside the Candy Bowl & a G-Free Halloween

Think outside the candy dish….

When I first told my husband we weren’t giving out candy for Halloween, he looked at me like I had lost my mind.I certainly didn’t want our house to be one of those places that kids complain about, but I figured a few yo-yos or rubber duckies  might be a nice change from 101 Tootsie rolls. Besides, I knew too well that having all the candy around was a temptation that I just didn’t need. I was a little nervous about my decision, until my first trick-or-treater ran back to his dad and said, “Cool! A slinky!” Last year, a group of girls even told my husband that she looked forward to the “rubber duckie house” every year.  Somehow, I resisted the opportunity to say I told you so.

Oriental Trading Company sells inexpensive toys, stickers, rubber duckies, mini games and even temporary tattoos (for children you know well). Another non-food option is mini cans of Play-Doh (but remember that Play Doh has gluten, so if you play, wash your hands very  thoroughly!) Some are more expensive than candy, but it depends on how you look at it. When you average in the bag of candy you bought on sale in September (and ate), the one in mid-October (which vanished as well) and the one you had to run out at the last minute and buy, it evens out in the end.

Of course I have great memories eating excessive quantities of candy on Halloween as a little kid, but we forget that treats don’t have to be food!  There are many ways to have fun with non-food treats, too, and have a little more balance.  And there are also healthier/gluten-free/allergen free treats, like the  mini Larabars, all fruit leathers and a variety of allergen friendly treats including ones from Enjoy LifeYummy Earth gummy bears, Envirokidz mini-bars etc., too.

Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Food Restrictions

  • Talk to teachers and friends about focusing parties around activities (like pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, costume contest) rather than just trick or treating.
  • Get prepared! Figure out what candies are safe for your child.  Here’s a 2011 list from NFCA). There are also many products through   Enjoy Life Foods that cater to a variety of allergies and intolerances.
  • Pre-stock your Halloween bag with foods that are ‘legal’ for your child (and/or you) so that you can safely snack along the way.
  • Stash safe bags of candy at friend’s houses for your child.
  • Have a trade in. Your child can trade the “problem” candies and treats for “safe” treats, or games, prizes, special outings, etc. You can either stash the “problem” candy somewhere out of reach, or donate it to the foodbank.
  • Plan ahead!  When possible, look online for favorite candies and snacks and see if they are gluten-free.  Some treats that are normally gluten-free or allergen free have different ingredients in the special holiday versions, so always double check.
  • Gina Clowes of Allergy Moms has a great list and tips, too.
  • Kids with Food Allergies has a great resource for safe Halloween activities, games, tips, etc.  Although it’s not directed at people avoiding gluten, a lot of the strategies are the same.

Start planning ahead for the holidays:

I know it’s only October, but it’s a good time to start thinking about the holidays.  You can make life easier by just making sure you/your hostess gets a gluten-free brand of turkey or etc.

Farmer’s Markets:

Most are still open until November or December, so head on over and get some apples, pumpkins, kale and more!  Here’s info on the one closest to my Alex office:

The West End Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 9am to 1pm, rain or shine. Primarily producers-only, this farmers market in Ben Brenman park offers local, seasonal produce and products. This weekly event brings together hundreds of families and canine friends each week.

And check out this listing for others close to you.


Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, children on the Autistic spectrum, chronic illness, or if you just want to feel and look better, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here or call 571-271-8742.

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