BY SUMMER BROWN, STAFF WRITER
Although I’m incredibly fortunate to not have any serious, life-threatening allergies, others are not so fortunate.
Most of my life I have been lucky enough to not have chronic health issues. However, my close friend here at Mason cannot say the same. She has a nasty gluten intolerance that causes her to constantly be sick, itch and develop rashes. Often, she has had issues avoiding gluten. I suppose she is lucky when it comes to her allergy, as she doesn’t have it as severe as others. But she still has an allergy and it should not be ignored.
Some dietary restrictions are set because of an individual’s choice. Some are not. When my sister and mother were vegetarians for nearly 15 years, they did it completely by choice. Their decision to do it was purely based on their choice. They did not do it for religious or moral beliefs or because of a doctor’s recommendation — it was just their choice. They wanted to do it.
On the other hand, my cousin has a gluten allergy and suffered for five years before her doctors recommended that she got tested for it. Turns out, it was severely impacting her health to the point where her physical health was starting to decline rapidly. This was not her choice.
Allergies are not options. They’re physical disabilities that need to be recognized. It’s hard for people who can eat everyday food to remember those who have dietary restrictions. I have often attended birthday parties or events where those with dietary restrictions were completely and utterly forgotten. To those with chosen dietary restrictions, eating the foods excluded by their diet may not be as harmful as those with serious, health-impacting restrictions. If the allergic individuals are not careful, a simple mistake can be a fatal one.
Keeping those with dietary restrictions in mind when making decisions about foods is imperative. I certainly had a hard time watching those around me — no matter their form of dietary restrictions — not be able to eat the things I could.. If I am with friends who have an allergy, I make sure that their dietary needs are not ignored. It’s not fair for those with issues to suffer.