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How having food allergies prepared me for online school

How having food allergies prepared me for online school

Food allergies and homeschooling

It’s true that food allergies can impact us in some not-so-great ways. But, as I learned this year, having food allergies is also a real strength because it can help prepare us for many different experiences in our lives, and in some unpredictable ways, too. It might seem surprising, but living with food allergies has actually made the transition to online school significantly simpler and more manageable.

Let’s be honest, nothing could completely prepare us for the ways that COVID-19 has changed our lives. When I was faced with the choice of going back to school in a hybrid learning format or a fully remote format for my junior year of high school, it was a very tricky choice to make! 

I found many parallels between choosing to learn remotely and the decisions that I make every day having food allergies.

It was a choice about physical safety, but it had the potential downside of missing out on a more normal experience. 

Connections between online school and having food allergies

Online school, feeling like the odd one out

Living with food allergies, I know that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Considering all of the information on COVID-19, I chose to attend school fully online. I was among the 10% of other students who opted to be completely remote for the start of the year. At first, I felt as though I was in the minority, like those of us with food allergies can sometimes feel. 

Choosing safety over taking a risk

As the year went on, online school became much more of a positive experience.  Similar to having food allergies, avoidance is the key to safety, in this case, it is the avoidance of exposure to other people. I am grateful that I can feel reassured knowing that there is no risk of me contracting COVID-19 from being around people at school or transmitting it to someone else since I’m not around anyone at all. 

Sophie's homeschool desk

Adapting to a new circumstance

Because of my food allergies, I’m used to doing things differently in certain situations, like not eating the same food that other people eat. The same thing is true during online school. Instead of raising my hand in class, I participate by unmuting my microphone. But this time, I’m not the only one doing something different, as more of my friends began to switch to a fully remote option during winter, I no longer felt like I was in the minority. 

Finding positivity in the little things

It’s important not to forget the silver linings in difficult situations. Wearing comfy clothes every day and having access to safe snacks during class has been amazing.  The countless times that my friends’ parents, teachers’ kids, or even their pets have made appearances in our virtual classes always make me smile! 

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Discovering strength and resilience

Online school definitely took a while to get used to at first, and some days are still better than others. However, I’m extremely grateful that my school offered us a choice of whether or not we wanted to return in person. 

Food allergies prepare you for life’s unexpected challenges

A homeschooling situation is comparable to being diagnosed with food allergies, for both students and teachers, it is about finding ways to work around changing constraints. Like having food allergies, online school requires making adjustments, and it sometimes takes more thought and planning, but it can be a positive experience!

Most importantly, I think that living with food allergies has given me the gift of resilience and strength during this challenging time. All of us with food allergies know how to persevere through difficulties because we have been doing it for most of our lives. And for everyone, including remote learners, parents of remote learners, teachers, and administrators, think about how much we have grown and learned from this time! We will all be much stronger in the face of our next challenge. 

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