Last week, Tonic took a look at how highly intolerant students navigate communal living in digs.
Nicola Bowes, a 3rd year Chemistry student, opens the cupboard where she keeps the food she prepares independent of the rest of her household. Nicola is highly intolerant to gluten, lactose, rye, soya and sugar, and so she has a separate cupboard in her kitchen for her own food products.
Because of Nicola’s intolerances, her diet consists mainly of meat and starches. Although she eats dinner with the rest of her housemates, Nicola often has to use replacement products like gluten-free pasta and lactose-free milk when preparing meals.
Although Nicola cannot tolerate much sugar in her diet, she still has a sweet tooth. She enjoys sweet wines and teas, and uses a liberal amount of fructose to sweeten her tea. Fructose is a fruit sugar derived from plants that Nicola uses as a substitute for regular sugar.
Apart from fructose, Nicola also uses EasyGest full-cream milk and a lactose-free milkshake mix produced by Nature’s Choice. These products can often be more expensive than their sugar and milk-based equivalents, but they provide Nicola with a greater range of food products to enjoy in spite of her intolerances.
Rice pasta is one example of a food product that Nicola can make use of in place of a regular one. Glutagon is one of the brands that accommodate people with gluten intolerances, but even so, the list of ingredients is clearly printed out on the front label so that people like Nicola can easily determine whether or not the product is appropriate for their diet.
An important part of Nicola’s food selection process is being literate in regard to food labels. She has to check the ingredients of all her food products, even the one’s that advertise themselves as gluten, lactose or sugar-free. Very often, sugar and milk is included in the processing of foods that may not necessarily have these products as constituents or be included on the product label.
Living with three other housemates who eat sugar, gluten, rye, soya and lactose makes separate cupboards a necessity for Nicola’s household. Each member of the house has a separate cupboard labeled with their name, and a communal cupboard also exists for the food products the household buys together at the beginning of every month.
Later this week, Tonic will be exploring how intolerance has affected Ms.Bowes’s engagement with nutrition, diet and health.