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Food Allergies: Keeping the Fun without the Fear this Fall

Monday, October 11, 2021

Food Allergies: Keeping the Fun without the Fear this Fall

By Stephanie Kovarik, RD, LD

Fall is such a fun time of year! Our family loves being outdoors and taking part in Fall celebrations, like apple and pumpkin picking, community harvest celebrations and even trick-or-treating. And, at the same time, as a dietitian and mom with a child who lives with severe food allergies (to peanuts, tree nuts and soy), these same Fall celebrations can come with feelings of worry and fear, because of the very real safety concerns when food and treats are also part of these celebrations.


How do we keep the fun without the fear?

A few ways we enjoy Fall celebrations without worry is, we:

  • Seek out events where there’s a lot of activities, not just food.
  • Host our own Fall celebration. Hint: Include a message in the invite asking guests to kindly avoid bringing any food items that include your child’s allergen(s).
  • Make our child’s allergy known to all those around us. Hint: Our neighbors, family and friends were all very aware of my son’s allergy and always made sure the food that was being served to all, was also safe for him.
  • Get involved. Whether through advocacy or being part of the planning committees at school or in your community. It’s a great way to raise awareness and keep it top of mind during planning the importance of making all kids feel welcome, included, and safe.


What do you want others to know about food allergies during fall celebrations?

A few things my son, Carter (who is now a teenager), would like everyone to know:

“Severe food allergies are real. And yes, they can be scary at times, but they should not be feared. What was always helpful for me growing up was when our neighbors, my school and other families were aware of my allergies and they would find other fun ways to celebrate, either without food or by getting the “OK” from my parents ahead of time that whatever they were serving was also safe for me. I can’t put into words just how awesome it is when you feel included and know you can safely eat what everyone else is. It may not seem like a big deal to most, but to a kid (or anyone, for that matter) living with food allergies, it’s truly the best feeling! I want to give a big “shout out” and “thank you” to everyone who is thinking about kids with food allergies as they plan their Fall celebrations, by making sure all kids feel included and safe to take part in the fun, without fear!

Oh, and one last thing, something my family did every Fall, was we painted a pumpkin teal and set it out on our porch. This lets kids and families know that nonfood treats are available at our house for those with food allergies. We did this as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project (founded by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)). If you’re not aware of it, I’d encourage you to check it out at tealpumpkinproject.org. And believe me, this small act won’t just make kids with allergies feel safe and excited when they see a teal pumpkin, but watch out for all the moms, dads, or any adult caring for a child with food allergies – because they’re likely going to want to give you a big hug or a high-five (and I’m talking from experience. Not to name names, but I’ll give you a hint: my mom😉)! Have fun and stay safe, everyone!”


Stephanie Kovarik, RD, LD
Dietitian and mom of two (one with a food allergy, one without)

Make yummy foods safe, even with food allergies and sensitivities, using our Allergies and Substitutions resource.