Stay healthy and avoid food allergies, intolerances

While an education at BYU can be an incredible opportunity, it can nevertheless be challenging for students who may have food sensitivities. (Unsplash)

With the summer season officially upon us, many BYU students are arriving on campus in preparation for upcoming classes. Summer term welcomes students from around the globe, ranging from Utah locals to international students studying abroad, providing the opportunity to enjoy an enriching education during the hot summer months.

For many students it may be their first foray away from home and it’s understandable to be a little bit anxious and excited about this new experience. BYU strives to make everyone’s time on campus as warm and welcoming as possible. However, while an education at BYU can be an incredible opportunity, it can nevertheless be challenging for students who may have food sensitivities.

For students on restricted or limited diets it may be difficult to navigate dining options both on and off campus. Fortunately, BYU offers a wide variety of campus dining options and cuisines to make it easier for students to find foods they desire within their diet restrictions. Below are suggestions for students to stay healthy and protect themselves from accidental exposure to potential food allergens.

Putting your health first

Nutrition is important for all people to maintain a healthy existence. BYU takes students’ health and wellness very seriously, offering a wide variety of dining options, exercise facilities, and medical care to ensure students have access to services necessary to take care of their own well-being. 

BYU Dining Services offers a wide variety of options for dining that provide students with the information necessary to avoid foods that may be harmful or cause health issues. For students with known food allergies or intolerances, be sure to ask questions, read labels and make informed decisions before you eat to stay healthy and avoid unpleasant or potentially lethal reactions.

Allergies versus intolerances

There is a significant difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies cause an immune system reaction in the body that can affect several organs and can result in anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening. Although some allergic reactions may be mild, some can be extremely serious and even lethal if left untreated. Food allergies vary with each individual but some of the more common allergens are eggs, peanuts and shellfish.

A food intolerance, on the other hand, does not cause anaphylaxis and usually affects the digestive system which can be unpleasant and cause discomfort. Some common food intolerances are sensitivity to lactic acid found in dairy products and Celiac disease which is an intolerance to gluten found in wheat. Although not lethal, food intolerances can cause a lot of discomfort and can limit one’s ability to engage in academics or social events because of illness.

Be prepared at all times

Food allergies or intolerances are not something to be casual about. Although many people are aware of some of the foods that might cause them discomfort or harm, it is possible to discover new allergies or intolerances. Fortunately there are easy at-home food allergy testing products available for those who may suspect they have an intolerance or allergy to a specific food. Don’t ignore potentially harmful or debilitating issues by not knowing. Students that suspect they might have an allergy or intolerance can find out quickly and avoid unnecessary health issues.

Additionally, being in a new environment, eating at unfamiliar restaurants, and exploring new eating options can be potentially harmful for those with food allergies. Students with known allergies should have appropriate medications on hand, can inform roommates or friends of potential allergic reactions and what to do, and can carry allergy-free snacks as ways to avoid or handle potential problems. 

Making the most of your time here

Attending college for the first time can be challenging in many ways but health and well-being doesn’t have to be one of those. Taking care to eat well, exercise and get enough rest is important for all students and something everyone can do. Students who are unsure if they have a food allergy can undergo testing to find out and get the peace of mind needed to avoid health issues that could affect both academic and social success. Stay healthy and safe and make the most of your time here at BYU.

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