Hey there Pearlies! I am super proud to share something that I am so passionate about on the blog today. The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched by an organization called FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) in 2014. It raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.
Food allergies affect an estimated 15 million Americans, that includes 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. Although, I know a lot of people with food allergies, this really hadn’t touched my family until October of last year. My baby girl doesn’t have typical allergies or allergies that may seem the usual to you. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction. But, Gianna is allergic to sugar! I know, right?! Who is allergic to sugar? Here’s her story…
My little Gigi was only a year old when she began having seizures. We spent just under a month in the hospital trying to gain seizure control. The doctors prescribed at least 6 different meds to try and help her as she lay in our arms having 30 plus seizures everyday. The days dragged on into weeks. It was the darkest time in our lives and it’s safe to say we felt hopeless! But, we are one of the lucky ones. There are so many children that still do not have seizure control after exhausting all avenues. We continue to pray for those families.
We had the most amazing team at Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. They told us about the ketogenic diet and how it helps so many children and adults gain seizure control. They warned me how difficult it would be and how we would have to be on a strict food ratio. Limited carbs, adequate protein and high fat. And absolutely NO sugar! In fact, in her medical chart under allergies it lists DEXTROSE or sugar! Even a tiny bit of sugar can knock her out of ketosis and send her spiraling back to where we were. 30 seizures per day!
Gigi has now been seizure free for nearly 8 months because of this wonderful new lifestyle. Although epilepsy awareness and the ketogenic diet are also things I feel passionate about, it is not the point I’m trying to reach here. Her diet is complicated and another discussion that we can save for another day. If you have more questions about it (DISCLAIMER: always consult your physician first!) please feel free to email me or check out these websites for more info. Epilepsy Foundation and The Charlie Foundation
The point that I’m trying to get at is NO sugar! No special treats, no birthday cake, no Christmas cookies, and definitely no candy! In other words, no Halloween trick or treating… ever! Then I heard about the teal pumpkin project and I was all over it. How can I help, how can I get others involved, how can we create an enjoyable experience for all children? Even those that candy is not an option for.
Here is how you can help. First, paint a pumpkin teal of course! Set it on your front porch and print one of these cool downloads for your window. It tells your friends and neighbors that you support children with food allergies and have some non-food treats available. Some fun ideas are bubbles, stickers, glow sticks, crayons, bouncy balls and bracelets. My little boy is very fond of the tiny dollar store dinosaurs. I believe they come with 10 in a package for a buck! Finally, take the pledge (here) and spread the word so we can make Halloween fun and safe for all of our kids!
Thank you for listening to our story. We hope to see many teal pumpkins out there as we are trick or treating this year. Think of it this way… it’s another way to get creative with your Halloween decor. Show us your teal pumpkins, Pearlies! And please, have a fun, safe and spooky Halloween!
Chrissy & MiMi