The only thing worse than the freshman 15 is having to make sure your food doesn’t send you into anaphylactic shock.
College is hard enough as it is, but add food allergies to the mix, and your anxiety levels go up even further. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are some tips on how to make it through college without your food sending you to the hospital.
See if your college can accommodate you
With the growing number of people suffering from food allergies, colleges have begun to accommodate their needs. Some ways colleges have done this is by putting up signs that point out allergens that students may be exposed to or offering special items such as gluten-free foods. Other colleges have taken it a step further by offering allergy-free kitchens where students can order meals customized to their needs.
For more information on which colleges accommodate to allergy needs, visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) College Network.
Pack your own lunch
This may take a little work on your part, but it will decrease your risk of a reaction. Plus, it saves money and teaches you responsibility and all the fun stuff of being an independent grown up.
Eat off campus
If your school doesn’t offer any alternatives that won’t cause a reaction, try to look for nearby cafés or delis that may offer the options you need. This is also a nice way to have lunch with friends and get a break from being at school.
Ask the important questions
If you aren’t sure whether an item in the cafeteria or dining hall contains something you are allergic to, just ask. The cafeteria staff is usually pretty nice about answering your questions, and it will help put your mind at ease. If they can't answer your question, don't eat it.
Share your allergies with friends
This way, you won’t feel awkward if they invite you to grab a bite to eat. Plus, if your friends know that you are allergic to peanuts, for example, they will be able to look out for you as well. It can even create a reason to bond if they also have a food allergy or have a family member who has a food allergy, or it can lead to trying out recipes together.
Please Note: No matter how many precautions you take, always carry your EpiPen with you. You never know if a food got cross contaminated or was produced where it could have been exposed to your allergen.
And just know that having food allergies doesn’t have to put a damper on your college experience.