Allergies do not disappear during the holidays

Editorial written by Derek Fernandez

Meghan McGowan

Editorial written by Derek Fernandez

Growing up I was diagnosed with an eating disorder that was extremely difficult to accept. Luckily my diet has expanded and I do not have to deal with this problem anymore, however, I remember how hard having a lot of food allergies was. Living in a world where society began to surround every activity with food only made matters worse. Whenever friends would ask to hang out it was always, “Where do you want to get food?” or “Sushi sounds good, so I think we should hit up this sushi restaurant”. 

What they did not know was that I had a feeding tube, a medical device used to transfer amino acid based food to my stomach. I got it surgically inserted into my stomach due to the fact that my body could not digest food and I was missing my daily nutrient intake. The biggest challenge was bringing it to people’s attention. At times I felt bad about telling them because I knew they would pity me and that is the quite opposite of what I wanted.

With the holidays coming up, all I could think about is how the season will go down. It would be like every previous holiday season, where everyone in my life would cater to my needs in order to make me feel as if I fit in. 

The holidays are supposed to be full of joy, but sometimes I am conflicted by trying to put on this fake smile and remembering why it is that we gather at this time of year. My mother always plans holiday activities near the beginning of the month. Along with these activities are meals that she makes so I can be included and accommodates my long list of food allergies. 

I recall feeling excluded from the biggest activities such as getting to snack on “warm”, “delicious”  snickerdoodle cookies after a night of baking or sitting on the couch and getting to drink a glass of hot chocolate while watching a Christmas movie. All the kids would tell me about the time they went to the Polar Express and had the best refreshments ever. Because I knew I would not be able to enjoy this amazing treat, I recall telling my mother I did not want to experience it for the fear of feeling like I was missing out. 

During the holidays I was constantly being invited to my friends house to celebrate the holidays. It was safe to assume that there would always be food to eat and I knew that if I simply just did not eat then it would come off as rude.  I too would also be uncomfortable so I was forever in this state of mind of ‘should I go or just stay home?’. I knew if I informed them of my allergies then they would overreact and go to extremes to make sure I was a part of the fun. 

I found it easier to stay home with my family and close friends. That way I could cuddle up in my blanket and enjoy some of my allergy friendly treats my mom discovered. One of my favorites being the Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies which are made to be enjoyed by someone with tons of food allergies. 

It was a never ending battle against food. It truly was hard to enjoy the holidays knowing that it would only remind me of all the allergies I never asked for. There was and has always been a lot of stress implemented towards the meals during the holiday season. But through it all, with the help of my loving family I was still able to experience and enjoy the holidays despite all the hardships.