Teal Pumpkin Project: Safe alternative for children with food allergies

View More: http://marciaannedesigns.pass.us/fareHalloween is an exciting time for children. They get to dress up like their favorite character and bounce around from house to house collecting (mostly) candy. For many children however, this can be a time of disappointment and a potential serious health risk because they suffer from food allergies, which may exclude a large amount of the candy they may receive.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), around 15 million Americans and 1 in 13 children under the age of 18 suffer from food allergies. The prevalence of food allergies increased more than 50 percent from 1997 to 2011 (Foodallergy.org). The top eight most common food allergies include fish/shellfish, nuts/peanuts, soy, dairy, eggs and wheat. Many processed candies contain at least one of these ingredients. Some food allergies tend to cause more serious reactions like anaphylaxis, where other can cause discomfort. But each child is different and what may cause a slight symptom in one child could be life-threatening for another.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and was launched as a national campaign by FARE to increase awareness of food allergies (Foodallergy.com).

How it works:

If you would like to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project place a teal pumpkin in front of your front door (or whichever door trick-or-treaters would come to). This lets trick-or-treaters and their parents know that you have non-food items to hand out instead of candy (i.e. glow sticks, Play-Doh, an inexpensive toy, stickers, etc.).

This can be a pumpkin you choose to paint or you can purchase teal pumpkins as this movement is gaining popularity.

This is a great healthier alternative option for any child, not only those with food allergies.

For more information on how you can get involved visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project.

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About Susan Wilson, R.D.

Susan Wilson is a registered dietitian with UofL Physicians – Pediatric Gastroenterology. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Kentucky, and her dietetic practicum rotations through Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa. She is currently working on completing her master’s in public health promotion. She has served on the Kentucky Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics board of directors for the past two years. Wilson’s daughter has a nut and peanut allergy. This firsthand knowledge helps her as she works with her patients with food allergies, intolerance or any other condition where a restrictive diet is required. When she has any downtime, she enjoys jogging, working in her garden, and traveling to new places.

All posts by Susan Wilson, R.D.