The beginning of fall is an exciting time for children and adults alike. The leaves are changing colors and the weather is getting cooler. Autumn is setting in and that can only mean one thing – Halloween is right around the corner.
If you or a family member has gluten intolerance, more widely known as celiac disease or a food allergy, Halloween can be a scary time indeed. With all the excitement of costumes, candy, and trick or treating, children may not be aware of what treats may be harmful to them if they are gluten intolerant. If your child innocently sneaks a piece of candy while traveling from house to house, this can make for a much nastier “trick” than “treat.”
Although more people are aware of gluten free options and the complications of celiac disease, there is still some confusion about the condition and just what people who are gluten intolerant can and can’t eat.
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What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the small intestine is damaged from the consumption of gluten. This is a hereditary disease, meaning it runs in families. It affects people of all ages, genders, and races. People suffering from the disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in:
- Regular oats
- Regular oats are to be avoided because of potential contamination with wheat. The recommendations are to wait until your symptoms have subsided before introducing pure, uncontaminated oats (labeled gluten-free). Discover 7 gluten-free alternatives to flour in our infographic.
When people with celiac disease consume gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine and damages the inner lining which is used to absorb nutrients from food. Because the body is not absorbing nutrients, people with celiac disease often suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency and vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as other health complications.
Each year more manufacturers are identifying candies as gluten-free, thereby increasing the choices available for people who follow a gluten-free diet.
It is possible to find gluten-free specialty candies as this has become an emerging trend in the past decade. But, since your friends and neighbors will most likely be passing out more popular treats on Halloween, it’s helpful to know which candies are safe to eat.
The Celiac Disease Foundation has compiled a list of Halloween candies that are considered to be gluten-free by their major United States manufacturers, including:
- Jelly Belly
- Just Born
- Surf Sweets
- Tootsie Roll Industries
Please keep in mind that this list is meant to serve as a guide rather than a definitive list, because ingredients and formulas can change often and without notice. Don’t be tricked, always be sure to check the labels and ingredient list on the packaging before indulging in the treat.
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About Digestive Disorders
The UPMC Digestive Disorders Center cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.