After seven weeks of changing my diet and going from starvation to plentiful meals, I completed my final week of restricted dieting: no nuts.
Peanut and tree-nut allergies are the most prevalent food allergies, effecting 3 million people in the United States. This contributes to many Americans having an allergic reaction, which could land them in the hospital.
Once I started my journey, I realized that most foods were not going to be a problem. I obviously would not eat peanut butter or peanut sauce, but for the most part the meal itself wasn’t the problem. Instead what I was forced to keep an eye on were the desserts, which definitely caused me some trouble.
Every day I would go to the dessert section and watch as every single food had “contains nuts” signs next to them, which was definitely frustrating. There was never a dry dessert option like cookies or brownies. I suppose you could always eat ice cream, a bowl of cereal, or a cup of fruit. But chocolate chip cookies without nuts would have been a great treat for me every once and awhile.
That said I understand that the chance of contamination is a problem. So, I think that a sign above the foods, cautioning that there could be some contamination; similar to what the cafeteria does for the fried foods on the Home Line.
But poor labeling extends beyond the cafeteria. Since the start of my journey six weeks ago, I realized how important the labeling in the cafeteria is since some foods that contained an allergen surprised me. However, I didn’t realize that as much as I did this week.
Trying to buy a cookie at the Book Club was like flipping a coin, maybe it was totally fine, or maybe (if I actually had a nut allergy) it could kill me.
While putting stickers on the cookies – like the ones on the signs in the cafeteria – would definitely be ideal. Perhaps just having the name of the cookie on the basket where they are contained would have made things much easier. You would be surprised how similar peanut butter and sugar cookies look.
Overall, I have to congratulate the cafeteria on their progress these past few weeks. I have seen lots of improvements every week that have only helped me through my process.
Although there will probably never be a perfect solution to all of these dietary restrictions, I am really glad that we have a group of people so dedicated to making sure that every student can have a safe and yummy meal.