Here I am sitting in the lobby of my University Hall outside of my Experimental Food Science class nervous as all hell thinking “Why am I even doing this? Why did I have to pick the least ideal subject to major in for my university career?”
You see, I am enrolled in Experimental Food Science which is a required course as a Nutrition and Dietetics Major. This is one of the most interesting classes as we learn about food processing, food chemistry, touch on food safety, food additives, and many other things. I absorb so much information and absolutely love knowing more and more of where our food come from and which ingredients are important to give foods the desirable components they possess. However, this course is really challenging for me - for my anxiety and for my health. Having multiple food allergies and anaphylaxis in a class where we are whipping cream, making homemade butter, and culturing our own yogurts is not exactly a comfortable environment. Thankfully, we have never used nuts.
I am so appreciative that my professor is being so kind to me letting me do whatever I need to feel comfortable and stay safe. Of course, I take the precautions of always wearing gloves, moving all of my belongings to an area away from where we food prep, and even carry a hospital face mask in my purse. This morning’s class topic was fermentation and fermented food products. In today’s lab, the class is assigned to ferment different types of yogurt with starter cultures and incubate it to see the results next week. I thought this lab would be able to be handled as the others (homemade whipped cream, homemade butter/butter milk, and making cheese) were. Keep my distance, wear safety gear, inform my group members; I’ve got this.
As soon as the powdered milk package was ripped open and a cloud of white death smoke, as far as I am concerned, permeated through the room, I realized I was so wrong. Noticing I forgot my mask, I did the only other option I could think of in a moment of inner panic. Going up to my professor, I kindly asked to be excused. Him realizing this was a “bad lab for me this week”, it was no problem at all. So here I am sitting emotionally numb in the lobby of my University Hall outside of my Experimental Food Science class nervous as all hell thinking “Why am I even doing this? Why did I have to pick the least ideal subject to major in for my university career?” I keep reminding myself of my motivation to help others navigate their food allergies and live their best life while receiving optimal nutrition care.
This moment of time in the lobby brings back a plethora of all too familiar memories. Ones of having to leave the room during snack time in fifth grade because one of my classmates brought peanut butter and crackers. Ones of sitting at a separate lunch table in middle school when peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a daily favorite meal. Ones of sitting outside on rainy days in summer camp as to not inhale peanuts in the claustrophobic basketball gym. I am used to this sort of thing and why would I ever think that college would be any different?
The truth is that these dangerous and isolating situations are going to happen throughout my entire life. They are inescapable. In a way, I am thankful to be exposed to this type of uncomfortable and dangerous situation because it helps me to know how to handle them. Everyday, I am learning to adjust and maneuver my way through life dealing with this invisible disease. Everyday, I become stronger. Everyday, I accept who I am.
Comment below if you have ever had any experiences with this. I'd love to know your stories as well.
With love, Nicole.