Tuesday, October 25, 2016


It is that time of year again when spooks and goblins abound.  Halloween is a holiday favorite for many, but for those with digestive disorders, it can be a scary time indeed!  Well, fear not, I have some tips that might help make this season’s candy and treat-filled events a little more palatable for those who struggle with the fatigue and sugar-filled temptations that sometimes surround Allhallows Eve.

Many of us, especially those with young children, dread Halloween festivities and trick-or-treating because we are faced with severe limitations on what we can consume and on how much energy we can expend.  It is often difficult to muster up the strength to take the children door-to-door or attend the latest costume party hosted by family or friends, and the tasty treats offered pose a threat to our well-being as well. 

Too frequently, we allow these obstacles to stand in the way of our holiday enjoyment.  We believe that if we cannot participate in every event and partake of all the treats offered up, we must refrain from any sort of celebration at all.  But this does not have to be the case.  There are many alternatives to the traditional Halloween celebrations, and there are numerous ways to manage the obstacles presented.  Here are a few:

  • If energy is a problem for you and you are unable to take your child(ren) trick-or-treating, consider alternatives such as “Trunk-or-Treats,” youth group events, or parking lot festivals.  These are one-stop venues that allow children to collect bags of candy in a short period of time, minus the endless walking required by neighborhood trick-or-treating.  You might also consider allowing a neighbor or trusted friend to take your little goblin through the neighborhood in your place. (See http://intelligentdomestications.com/2013/10/what-is-trunk-or-treat.html for additional information.)
  • If you wish to attend an event but know your illness limits you more at certain times of the day or evening, try to schedule events at a time when you generally have the least trouble.  For instance, if your symptoms are worse in the evening, consider daytime haunted houses, museum and zoo galas, or fall festival events such as those held in apple orchards and pumpkin patches.  (For a wonderful example of what a fun-filled fall festival might include, see http://www.goebbertspumpkinpatch.com/#)
  • When attending events, consider taking your own “treats” – items that you know to be relatively “safe” foods, so that you can enjoy a refreshment without the dire consequences of consuming problem foods/liquids.
  • While the children are munching on the off-limits-to-you candy, give yourself a treat as well.  Perhaps you can tolerate a pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin spice creamer in your coffee, or a mug of hot cider.  You might even be able to enjoy a piece of hard candy or a small, soft chocolaty treat.  This will help you and your family feel as if you are truly joining in the festivities. (For a fall recipe suggestion, see: http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com/2014/11/pumpkin-pie-smoothie.html)
  • If you are dressing up, try to choose a costume that accommodates your specific digestive disorder.  For instance, if bloating is a problem, choose stretchy or over-sized costumes.  Be creative!  I have known some community members who have even incorporated their tubes and IVs into their costumes, decorating them to match their particular costume choice.  In any case, be as comfortable as you can.  It will make the day/evening go much more smoothly!
  • Limit your time at events, warn others in advance that you may have to exit early or cancel at the last minute, and do only what you can reasonably do.  Last year, though I had planned to roam the neighborhood in my spiffy “Phantom of the Opera” costume, I chose instead to dress, snap a few photos with my family, and retire for the evening.  It was simply all I could manage at the time.  It was not ideal, but it pleased my daughter that I could participate in some manner and she now treasures the photos marking the occasion.
  • Consider “virtual” events.  For the last two years, members of my online support groups who are homebound gathered together in online events where those who were able posted photos of themselves and/or their family members in costume.  Those who were too fatigued to dress in costume digitally altered photos of themselves to appear as if they were in full regalia.  (See example below.)  It was loads of fun and distracted us from the disappointment of not being able to participate in the more traditional festivities.
  • Consider spontaneous events.  Choose a day (or a moment) when you are feeling your best, dress in full costume, and walk the neighborhood.  Is it embarrassing?  Maybe.  But I can almost guarantee your child(ren) will love you for it and will have a unique memory to cherish.  Alternatively, invite friends and family to join you at your home for a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment celebration.  Not everyone will be able to attend, but perhaps you can entertain a few of your more adventurous loved ones.

These are but a few suggestions for enjoying the season in alternative ways. I hope you have found them useful. But please remember, if all else fails, and you simply cannot partake in any sort of activity, forgive yourself and move forward. There will be new days, other events, and fresh opportunities for sharing quality time with your family and friends. Hold on!

Happy Halloween!