It’s the most beautiful time of year – for chocolate lovers anyway. The holidays are approaching and we all know this is the big chocolate eating time for children. If you are a choco-holic like myself than there was nothing more indulging than savoring an Andes or Lindt piece of chocolate during Christmas as a kid.
Of course not everyone can enjoy my sweet indulgence childhood memories. There are some unfortunate children out there that are allergic to chocolate and must deter from eating chocolate sweets. But is it really the cacao bean that makes them allergic to chocolate?
Chocolate gets the bad wrap as a popular food allergy but it is very rare for a child or adult to be allergic to the cacao bean that is the main ingredient found in chocolate. It is the other chocolate candy ingredients that are the true bandits of food allergic reactions.
- Nuts – According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website, food allergies affect 1 out of every 13 children under the age of 18 years old within the United States. Peanuts are the most common nut food allergy and one of the top 8 foods that account for 90 percent of all allergic food reactions. Parents who have children with peanut allergies should avoid candies like the Peanut M&M and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Other nutty candy bars to avoid are snickers and almond joy candies. All of these nutty candies are dipped in a chocolate covered coating making it hard for some parents to recognize the nut ingredient. Another concern for some parents is the candies that do not contain nuts but may be processed on the same conveyor belt where some nut candies are also processed. Nestlé openly tells their customers that their Nestlé Crunch bar does not have nuts in it, but does have cross contact with a candy bar that does. Parents may wish to research the chocolate manufacturer to see how their products are processed before letting their children eat the candy.
- Gluten – children with wheat allergies may also need to avoid chocolates that are not gluten free. Often times chocolate candy ingredients include flour or wheat starch as an adhesive binder. Concerned parents could purchase gluten free chocolate to keep their kids happy and avoid feeling left out of the holiday spirit.
- Milk – Milk does not always do a body good. Children who are lactose intolerant are allergic to dairy products like milk. Most chocolate does contain milk in it – hence the advertisement on the wrappers stating “milk chocolate”. If your kid is lactose intolerant, try giving them candies that are dark chocolate only.
The holidays do not have to be chocolate free for children with food allergies. To help minimize allergic reactions to chocolate, there are many chocolate options available now that do not contain milk or nuts and can be offered gluten free. There are even delicious sugar-free chocolates available for children who have diabetes or for parents who wish to limit the amount of sugar their kids consume. This holiday let the kiddos savor their sweet tooth cravings and indulge in the wonderful invention of chocolate.