I was excited to start college last semester and manage my life away from home for the first time. I made new friends and joined the Quidditch Club; then things got busy with assignments in every class.
With little time to spare, it was great to have the cafeteria for meals and not need to worry about shopping and cooking. But that’s when my troubles began. I have had sucrose intolerance, also known as congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency (CSID), since I was little. At home, it was easier to avoid foods containing sucrose; but sometimes after eating cafeteria food, I was bloated and had abdominal pain and gas. It was hard to pinpoint which foods were causing me problems since I didn’t cook for myself.
One day when I was taking a midterm exam, that horrible feeling of imminent diarrhea happened. I made it to the bathroom in time, but I didn’t make it back in time to finish the exam. My grade in that course took a big hit. This semester, I’ve put some self-care strategies in place to make sure I’m not eating foods with sucrose.
First, I talked to the infirmary nurse about my medication. She recommended that I speak to the disabilities services office to find out what the school could do to accommodate my dietary restrictions. I should have talked to them sooner! I learned that sucrose intolerance falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means that the school must provide accommodations for me, including unlimited access to bathrooms and extra time if I have a digestive problem during an exam.
I also qualify for having my own mini fridge in my dorm room. Now I shop on the weekends to stock up on foods and snacks that I know are safe for me to eat, and I have a handier place to store my medication than in the common fridge used by everyone on my residence floor.
The disabilities services manager organized a meeting for me with dining services. After I told them about my diagnosis and my symptoms, they offered to put strategies in place just as they do for students with gluten or peanut allergies. The registered dietitian in charge of the cafeteria menu identified foods that are sucrose-free, so now I know the best choices. The cafeteria has also included menu options such as sugar-free salad dressing.
Finally, I found a food allergy club that organizes social events like board game nights and ultimate frisbee tournaments. It’s nice to know I can hang out with friends, have some fun, and not worry about my sucrose intolerance. My grades are improving, too!
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