With Halloween just around the corner, moms, dads, families and kids are busy prepping for all the magic the day brings. It’s an exciting annual tradition for many with plenty of free candy, dress up and door-to-door cheers of the magic words “trick-or-treat.”
However for children who suffer from celiac disease, Halloween needs to be celebrated with caution.
Celiac disease is a digestive, autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is found in foods like breads, pasta, cookies, cakes and pies.
According to Dr. Esperanza Garcia-Alvarez, pediatric gastroenterologist at the Pediatric Celiac Center located at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill, it’s common for celiac disease is underdiagnosed.
“It is estimated that one out of 133 people have celiac disease, most of which do not know they have it,” she says.
For those children with celiac disease a gluten-free diet is the only treatment, she says.
Carrie Ek, RD, MBA, clinical nutritionist and coordinator at the Pediatric Celiac Center at Advocate Children’s Hospital, says that children who are anticipating celebrating Halloween this year still have lots of candy options that are gluten free.
“Most chocolates, gummy candies and many name brands such as M & M’s, Snickers and Skittles are gluten-free products,” she says “Parents of kids with celiac can relax and let their kids enjoy a candy-filled Halloween with the rest of the neighborhood.”
In addition to seeking gluten-free candy, Ek says that parents should seek gluten-free Halloween events, where it’s clear what candies are safe for kids with celiac disease.
If you are in the Chicagoland area, you and your family can join the staff at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., for a special gluten-free Halloween event on Saturday, Oct. 25.
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