Trick or Treating Safely with Digestive Conditions
Halloween is approaching quickly! Whether you are having an at-home candy hunt, or are taking to the streets, there are lots of opportunities to get that candy fix! Not everyone can eat all Halloween candy due to dietary restrictions and food allergies. It’s important to remember that if you have a digestive condition or restriction, to enjoy the treats you can have in moderation, and be knowledgeable and vigilant about your dietary needs.
We’ve outlined some common digestive conditions and food allergy tips from some of our friends in the space to help you trick or treat safely on Halloween and the days that follow.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a disorder affecting the intestine. IBS involves problems with motility (movement of digested food through the intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets signals from the intestinal nerves), leading to abdominal pain, changes in bowel patterns and other symptoms.
If you are following the low FODMAP diet, with guidance from your registered dietitian you may already know that some candies contain high FODMAP ingredients. These ingredients may include: polyols (sugar alcohols), fructose and lactose, that can all lead to IBS symptoms.
Our friends at Fody Foods mention specific high FODMAP ingredients that are often found in candies, that you may want to leave on the shelf. These include:
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Fructose or fructose-glucose
- Sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and erythritol
- Inulin, chicory root
- Concentrated fruit juices or purées made from high FODMAP fruits (but really any derivation can be a problem as they are concentrated)
- Any high FODMAP fruit content (watch for pear, apple, mango, blackberry etc.)
It’s important to remember that everyone is different and has their own triggers. Although this is true, our friends at Fody Foods mention that the following candies are generally safe for sensitive stomachs:
- Jolly Ranchers
- Marshmallows if made without HFCS or extra fiber, and in small quantities
- Old fashioned lollipops
- Swedish Fish
- Gummy Bears
- Some Peanut Butter Cups
Remember to always check the labels!
Organic dark chocolates and other organic candies can be a great alternative as well. Further to this, if you want to get that sweet treat fix in and love to bake, Fody Foods has some great low FODMAP recipes you can make!
Remember, portions matter! Try keeping them small. Eating too much at one time, even if made with low FODMAP ingredients, can risk a bout of IBS symptoms!
Celiac disease is a bowel disorder caused by a reaction to ingested gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and contaminating all commercial-grade oats. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten damages the villi (small finger-like structures) that make up the lining of your small bowel. This injury prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed.
If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you know you must follow a strict gluten-free diet –it’s extremely important that all the candies you consume at Halloween are gluten-free. Sometimes the products can be gluten-free themselves but were processed in a facility that also processes wheat – so ensure you always read the label carefully before purchasing products! Check out our article on how to know which brands are really celiac safe.
Some of our favourite gluten-free treats include:
- Cadbury ® Mini Eggs
- Cadbury ® Caramilk
- HERSHEY’S ® Creamy Milk Chocolate
- LAY’S ® Classic Potato Chips
- Jolly Rancher ® Hard Candy
- SNICKERS ® Bar
- SKITTLES ® Sour Candy
- AERO ® Dark & Milk Chocolate Bars
The Canadian Celiac Foundation provides a full list of gluten-free candy to help all trick or treat safely.
A food allergy is when your immune system mistakes something in a particular food (most often the protein) as harmful. Your body responds to the food (an allergen) by having an allergic reaction. Even a small amount of an allergen can cause a serious allergic reaction.
There is currently no cure for food allergies, so avoiding the allergenic food is needed to prevent a reaction from happening!
People may be allergic to one food or have multiple food allergies, and they may not be allergic to common foods like peanuts. When it comes to Halloween and candies, it’s important that if your child is trick-or-treating without you and has food allergies, they do not eat any of the candies before they get home.
If you want to do your part in helping everyone trick or treat safely, Food Allergy Canada has some great tips that include:
- Talk to your child about Halloween and what it means to stay safe.
- Double check that your child’s auto-injectors are up-to-date.
- Talk to neighbours about your child’s food allergy.
- Review your child’s allergy emergency plan and what to do in case of a reaction.
- Replacing your regular porch light with a teal bulb, or display other sources of teal light on your front porch to create awareness around food allergies
And our last tip for all! Eat Mindfully!
Netflix and a bag of chips and treats?! What could be better? Turns out, mindlessly eating in front of the TV is one of the biggest reasons for over-snacking. When we eat on autopilot while our minds are busy focusing on something else, we can miss cues from our bodies that let us know that we’re full.
Andrea Hardy, Registered Dietitian and gut health expert says: “We should be eating the moment we sense hunger, not when we are starving. When we eat, we should eat slowly and spend time to chew our food thoroughly. Giving your body enough time to sense fullness allows us to eat less food and digest better. So, the next time you eat, put away your smartphone or digital gadgets and focus on your plate – you will have better control over your appetite from overeating.”
Same goes with those Halloween treats! Ever been thinking about the next piece of candy before finishing the one you have? Guilty. Try eating with your non-dominate hand to prevent mindless chocolate-popping, and which research shows can cut down on how much you eat by up to 30 per cent!
Stay Safe and Happy Halloween Everyone!