Out of Box:When food becomes your enemy: How students work around dietary restrictions in creative and surprising ways.
- Photo by Rachael Palinkas/Photo editor
Bradley Schorer, junior
Some dietary restrictions are voluntary. Morals and tastes all affect the way people eat. This is mostly true for junior Bradley Schorer.
Schorer has been a vegetarian since his senior year of high school when he realized he did not like the way slaughterhouses and some ranchers treated animals while raising and butchering them. He does admit to eating meat on occasion, but only under certain circumstances.
“I’m OK with meat if I know how the animal was killed and how it was raised,” Schorer said. “A lot of the mistreatment occurs in the slaughterhouse. Just because it was raised humanely doesn’t mean it was necessarily slaughtered (humanely). I don’t trust it.”
Schorer began cutting out meat from his diet and focused on eating vegetables, fruit, different types of grains, such as buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, bread and other vegetarian-friendly meals. Sadly, some of his favorite foods have become off-limits.
Last semester, Schorer said he started to believe he had an allergy to wheat and gluten. The suspicion came when he heard eczema, a skin condition he has suffered from all his life, is a symptom of a wheat allergy. He said he decided to test the theory when he learned a friend, who used to have eczema, had cut wheat from his diet. He is now eczema free.
After about four to six weeks, Schorer said his eczema began to disappear. However, he said he did not keep up with his new no-wheat diet after the semester ended.
“I went (abroad) this Jan Term, and I gave it up because I’m a vegetarian; so it’s ridiculously hard with the way I eat to eat out, so I decided to eat bread,” he said.
While he did not have any problems during his trip, Schorer said his eczema began to return once he was back in the U.S. He decided to go back to the diet he followed before leaving for January—namely, no longer eating wheat.
Unlike many of those who use rice products in replacement of wheat, Schorer chooses to stick with his diet centered on grains and vegetables. He said the rice-based foods do not provide him with protein, so he sees no point in buying them.
Nellie Reuland, senior
Like most students who live in a residence hall, Reuland caught the stomach flu passed around February of 2005. Except, hers didn’t go away like everyone else’s. It persisted throughout the summer.
After visiting multiple doctors and even a naturopathic doctor as a last resort, then freshman, now senior, Reuland finally learned the reason why she had been suffering from stomachaches, nausea, headaches and a general malaise for months was not from any flu, but because of intolerances to wheat, dairy, soy and egg products. Her reaction was not one many would expect.
“Obviously, I was relieved to know what it was because it was the beginning of August, and I had been fighting with symptoms since February, so (for) six months I’d been feeling sub par, to say the least,” she said.
That relief did not last long once she returned to school and realized how difficult it would be to eat according to her new diet. She could no longer stomach many staples enjoyed by her fellow college students, such as pasta, bread and other products made with wheat flour and dairy.
After that drastic life and dietary change, Reuland said she has grown used to her situation and is comfortable with what she can and can’t eat.
“It’s a lot easier than it used to be,” she said. “When you compare my (diet) to the average college student, yes it’s a lot harder because I can’t cook up a box of macaroni and cheese and Top Ramen anytime I want.”
Reuland confessed that because her diet eliminates many foods, people believe there is almost nothing she can eat. However, once she gives them a few suggestions, they realize her diet is not as difficult as it seems.
What can she eat? Fruits, vegetables and foods made from whole grains besides wheat; meat, as long as it’s not cooked in anything; and a surprising amount of rice- and corn-based products, including rice milk. Going out to dinner is not as accommodating.
“There are certain restaurants I cannot go to because the only thing I can eat is lettuce; not even salad—salad would come with some cream, buttermilk ranch dressing,” she said.
There are dining establishments that are safe for Reuland, though. Asian foods are fine, as well as Mexican. Both Thai Country and Tequila Grill have been deemed “Nellie safe” by Reuland and her roommates.
Alex Maxson, junior
Not many people can say no to a sweet, and juicy orange, or any other fruit for that matter. But junior Alex Maxson can; in fact, she has to.
Maxson is allergic to all fruits. She is not allowed to eat anything—no strawberries, peaches or even grapes. If she does happen to partake of any forbidden fruits, her mouth begins to itch; her throat will swell; and her lips might get a little plumper.
The worst fruit for Maxson to eat is oranges. If she accidentally eats anything with real orange juice in it, she will break out in hives and eventually pass out.
Unfortunately, fruits maintain their stereotypical temptation power they’ve had since Adam and Eve.
“I eat fruit every now and again just because I know it tastes good,” Maxson said. “My sister usually stops me because I always try and do it more than I should, so she’ll take the fruit away from me. The time that was really bad was (Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority) was doing a yogurt-eating contest, and I participated.”
Why was this contest so terrible? The yogurt contestants ate was all fruit. Maxson was prepared though. She had a friend in the audience with a bag of ice ready for her after the competition to numb the itching.
Although she tries hard not to ingest any fruit, including buying juice without natural fruit juices, Maxson does have one ultimate weakness.
“I usually break the rules whenever there’s a Jamba Juice around,” she said.
Kenton Barker, sophomore
After being taken to the hospital one morning during his senior year of high school because of the severity of his sickness, sophomore Kenton Barker found out he had celiac disease.
Celiac is a digestive disease where a person cannot tolerate gluten, which is commonly found is wheat-based products. If Barker eats any foods containing gluten, his stomach will begin to cramp; he’ll have difficulty breathing; and he might break out in hives.
Celiac disease is often hard to identify, Barker said. When he first arrived at the hospital, doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him. After two days of testing, he was officially diagnosed.
Right before coming to Linfield, Barker visited with a nutritionist, who also has celiac disease, to get a better idea of what he could and could not eat. He only knew he had to avoid wheat products.
“It was incredibly overwhelming,” Barker said. “(The nutritionist) gave me this Web site to go to that had all the gluten and wheat things I couldn’t have; I remember printing it off and it just kept going and going and going.”
His freshman year was the hardest, he said. At the beginning of the year, he spoke to Jason Briles, catering and retail manager of dining services, who gave him options of what the cooking staff could do for him. Barker’s main option was to store food in a large freezer in the back of Dillin Hall. He said he spent four months eating cold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made with gluten-free bread for dinner.
Once he joined Kappa Sigma Fraternity and moved into the fraternity’s house, meals became easier. Barker. He had had more time to learn about his food restrictions and now he had a kitchen to cook in.
“It was definitely hard at the beginning, but I’ve grown into a pattern,” Barker said. “When I first got diagnosed, I didn’t even know what in the world gluten was. It was really daunting. I am an expert now at reading labels.”
Kappa Sigma also helped Barker with finding gluten-free foods, as it was a fraternity brother who first told him about a gluten-free grocery store he saw in McMinnville. He said his fraternity brothers will often tease him about all the things he can’t eat, but on the whole they have been supportive and are willing to learn about his disease and help him find acceptable foods.
Barker said his daily diet consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, yogurt, meat, rice-flour products and eggs. He said he had to learn where he could buy the substitutes for what he was missing out on. Because of his dietary restrictions, Barker also has to eat about four or five times a day.
Another challenge is cross-contamination. When a gluten product is cooked on a grill or in a toaster, Barker cannot have his foods touching those surfaces because they will absorb the leftover gluten proteins. This makes eating at restaurants difficult, but he said he favors Outback Steakhouse because it provides a gluten-free menu.
Even though he misses everything he could eat in high school, Barker remains positive about his condition and believes he will eventually eat gluten products again, even if it isn’t during his lifetime.
“I have a feeling that whenever I do go to Heaven—which is hopefully not going to be soon—there’s going to be this huge buffet line of gluten and I can just eat and not even worry about it,” he said.