Bringing back Spotlight Sunday with Emma Purtell, aka @diningwithemma! She has severe allergies to nuts and fish, and has taught me so much about the challenges those with severe food allergies deal with, and about how to be respectful and conscientious of those with allergies. She founded Boston University’s Allergy Awareness Club. The club is known as AIR, which stands for Allergies, Intolerances, and Restrictions. Tomorrow from 5-9 PM in the Bay State Dining Hall the Gluten Free station will be fully allergy friendly by providing food free of the Top 8 Food Allergens, so stop by! But her allergies don’t define her!
“When I came to BU, I looked for a food allergies/restrictions club and didn’t find one. I started AIR as a safe, inclusive space for those with/interested in food allergies, intolerances and/or restrictions. I aim to spread awareness and connect this community for support.
Most people know about allergies, but many don’t understand how severe it can be. People often offensively joke about my allergies, but I do my best to push away the negativity. I have to shop at many different grocery stores, as it’s hard to find allergen friendly products all in one place. When I was younger, there weren’t many allergen friendly brands, but now there are many reliable ones I love, such as: Enjoy Life, 88Acres, A La Mode Shoppe, Made Good, Vermont Nut Free, Matatie, Free2B, Freeyumm, and Sunbutter.
Another challenge is the accompanying anxiety. I have allergy related anxiety I’m conquering with my loved ones’ support. It’s tough to find restaurants I go to; I’ve been told I couldn’t eat at places due to my allergies. I’d never eaten in a bakery until high school at Dee’s One Smart Cookie. I’m thankful there are now allergen friendly shops like Jennifer Lee’s and Tipping Cow Ice Cream. When I was little, I never thought I would be able to travel - now I’ve been to six countries - I want others to know that it’s possible to see the world with dietary restrictions!
To help those with food allergies, watch where you leave food. Dropping food on the ground is bad for the earth, and can provoke anxiety for those with food allergies. For example, there are often tons of peanut shells on the ground outside Fenway Park, which makes navigating streets stressful with my peanut allergy. Be respectful and think before speaking. Be mindful where you eat - someone could feel nauseous from your food. Maybe save the granola bar for later instead of eating it in class where someone could worry that their allergens are in it. Many events are centered on food, so it’s good to find out guests’ dietary restrictions and try to accommodate them.”