How students deal with allergies

By Ana Hurler
For Unwind magazine

Many of us don’t think twice about the foods we select, especially when it comes to snacks and fast food. Unfortunately for some, the most loved foods end up betraying them.

Freshman kinesiology major Nancy Morgan experienced her first allergic reaction to food during her junior year of high school. Since then, she said, the number of fruits and vegetables she could not eat kept growing and her reactions got worse.

“I have really bad plant allergies to pollen, trees, flowers … and it manifests itself through a lot of foods,” Morgan said. “So I have very different reactions and very varied reactions.”

Morgan said this type of reaction is called oral allergy syndrome, which causes her mouth to get itchy and red when she eats raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Her worst reactions cause her to break out in hives.

“I had celery and broke out in hives and was very confused about what was going on because I’d eaten celery all my life,” Morgan said.

Sophomore math major Emma Harring went through a similar experience when she first had an allergic reaction to apples during her junior year of high school.

“I used to eat apples and oranges and all sorts of fruits,” Harring said. “Then every time I would eat an apple though, afterwards my throat would get really sore and swell up, and I’d sneeze and just get really congested.”

Harring, whose allergy is not officially diagnosed, was told by her doctor that she could either get tested or stop eating apples, so she simply decided to avoid them.

“Sometimes I try and think that I can eat an apple, but I still get congested and a sore throat afterwards,” Harring said.

Because many students eat at the dining halls, working around food allergies sometimes requires extra meal planning. Sister Maureen Schrimpe works for Dining Services to ensure all student’s allergy needs are met.

“As soon as they arrive on campus, the chef and I meet with them … and we discuss their options,” Schrimpe said.

This includes allowing students to plan out meals that will not affect their allergies or making special accommodations to how the food is prepared. Schrimpe said many of those students require meals that are dairy free or gluten free, and they have a separate area where they can go pick up their food.

In the main dining area, the food is laid out so items that could cause potential problems, such as nuts, are separated in their own designated areas.

“It’s very stand alone and you know it’s there,” Schrimpe said.

However, this has not stopped Morgan from indulging in the occasional raw fruit or vegetable.

“Most of the allergies aren’t super bad, so sometimes I just ignore it and take a Benadryl before I eat and just deal with whatever happens,” she said.

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