Understanding the misunderstood: food allergies

Monday, February 13, 2017

By Marti Sullivan

Marshall County High School Senior

The life of a high school student with a food allergy in the school system is full of life or death decisions that can have life-altering consequences.

From the time I was 2 years old, I have had a life-threatening peanut allergy. There have always been things that I have had to sacrifice, but going through high school with an allergy has most definitely been a completely different story.

Walking through the halls of high school with a food allergy has been nothing short of difficult and full of difficult situations. Due to school systems not offering allergy safe foods, I bring a packed lunch every day, which I am mocked for, not to mention not being able to eat in the cafeteria on days the school serves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Consequently, that forces me to leave to eat in a teacher’s room.

Having an allergy means that every first day of new classes, you have to tell your teacher about your allergy, which leads to them mentioning it in class and all the attention being brought to you and receiving mockery looks.

Another difficult situation is class parties. For the most part everything goes smoothly, except for that one kid that forgets and brings a nut covered dessert or peanut butter cookies or fudge. This then leads to the teacher stating, “We just will not put it beside the other foods” or “whoever eats it just don’t go near her.” This has probably got to be the most frustrating part of an allergy; not everyone truly understanding the severity and leaving the student feeling very uncomfortable with the allergen in the same room. That leads an anxiety of danger, which leads to either not eating anything at all or being secluded from others.

Very few people understand the things a student in the school system with a life-threatening food allergy truly endures, or the anxiety others put upon the student having to go through the “inconvenience of dealing with it.”

So, next time you go to judge someone’s ways or reasons why they do what they do with an allergy, make sure you stop to realize everything that student goes through.