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Food Allergies and College Living


Replies to: Food Allergies and College Living

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Wellesley has a nut-free dining hall though students are allowed to have peanut butter in their rooms (provided no roommate issues, of course).
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,088 Senior Member
    Peebers, if that school was a favorite, I think it might have been possible to make the experience at the college work out. It is a shame it was crossed off the list.

    Living off campus is probably not a good idea for the first year.

    I myself have multiple food allergies and my daughter has celiac, diabetes and a few other serious health issues. Please believe me this can work out. I think the real issue may be educating your son on how to be careful.

    Think positive but always consider worst case scenarios preventatively. That's my mantra.

    In our experience, many schools really are good with this stuff. Liability concerns are a factor.

    Does your son do a peak flow meter? Is he on inhaled steroids? Does he have a nebulizer?
  • noname87noname87 Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    edited March 2016
    Okay a few more suggestions.

    Regarding the Epi-pen, You son needs to know how and when to use it. He has to understand how important it is to seek immediate medical help even if he thinks he has fully recovered by using the Epi-pen. We have struggle with the "when" issue. It really is a judgement call when you are asthmatic since throat tightening and shortness of breath can be a daily occurrence at times. I would have a talk with your doctors about this issue.

    Do you have prescriptions and a supply of nebulize type medicine (pulmicort, duoneb, Xopenex, albuterol, etc) if you need them? My daughter carries a battery operated nebulizer at all times along with medicine since she cannot use inhalers. It is completely silent and extremely portable. She cannot use inhalers.

    Look to see if your school has a point to point type car service. Cold air for early morning classes can be rough. Might be wise to avoid these until you see how your son does. Disability might be able to arrange for priority registration if this is a concern.

    Talk to disability/housing about getting a room close as possible to the classrooms. Freshman dorms are often the furthest from the classrooms. You might need to consider an upperclassman dorm. Far from ideal but worth considering.

    All this sound scary and it is but most of what you posted can be managed. The nice thing about a large school like Virginia Tech is that it has the resources and a well staffed health center that should be able to deal with your son's medical issues.
  • supermom2supermom2 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    So after visiting schools, I have concluded they have some systems in place where by the menus have a nutritional breakdown, with the 8 major allergens identified. But for a few allergens which we are looking for like Chickpeas and Sesame are not identified. Most campus dining dieticians want the student to meet with them once a week and go over the menu and select what they can eat. Then the chef will prepare those foods separately to prevent cross contamination. The student needs to communicate clearly and stay in regular touch with the chefs and dieticians to make it a safe place for their meals.
  • MotherOfDragonsMotherOfDragons Registered User Posts: 3,951 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Youtube has some good videos about how to use an epi-pen.

    D knows that use of epipen=911 call, no exceptions. The secondary reaction can set in as long as 24 hours after the initial reaction. Typically we'll keep her on benadryl for a day or two afterwards just to keep her immune system quiet, although (knock wood) she hasn't had a reaction for years because she's careful.
  • noname87noname87 Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    Some schools also post menus each week that list every ingredients in each meal. It is worth checking to see if the chefs like to put some ingredients in everything (such as pepper or margarine (soy)).We ran into this at our school which eliminated almost everything on the menu. Occasionally, mistakes were made in the specially prepared food since the habit of adding these was so ingrained.

    I would suggest sitting down with your son and finding out if he is wiling do what it takes. After a while, my daughter got tired of fighting the system. A friend's son with celiac couldn't resist the ice cream machine and ended up have to take a medical withdrawal due to illness due to cross contamination issues.

    Your son can make this work but it does take work and the willingness to speak up.
  • MayuYouMayuYou Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Me and my daughter have a corn allergy so I always afraid that she eats something with corn in school.
    I teach her all about allergy - what she need to do if she has allergy attack. Also I always remind her to read menus very carefully.
  • LilyMoonLilyMoon Registered User Posts: 1,832 Senior Member
    @negirl508 I came across this article about the top gluten-free campuses that mentions UConn specifically in regards to gluten free issues. If they are tuned in on that issue, I am guessing that they are accommodating in other ways. http://udisglutenfree.com/2013/05/02/the-top-10-gluten-free-campuses/
  • toomanyteenstoomanyteens Registered User Posts: 585 Member
    @MotherOfDragons OMG what a beastly human being.. who raised such a heathen???
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,088 Senior Member
    Mayuyou, I am assuming your daughter knows all the ingredients that actually contain corn (sometimes maltodextrin, for instance).
  • negirl508negirl508 Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    Yes @LilyMoon we met with the director of dining services at UCONN when my daughter moved in and they introduced her to the manager of the dining hall that is nut free. He also gave my daughter his card should she have any difficulties or questions for him. Menus are posted on line as well so she knows what she can safely eat at all the dining halls.
  • MayuYouMayuYou Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    @compmom of course, thank you, I always tell her to check every unknown products on the Internet.
  • MotherOfDragonsMotherOfDragons Registered User Posts: 3,951 Senior Member
    @toomanyteens we never assume malice-ignorance accounts for so much of humanity's atrocious behavior. The girl simply didn't believe that my D really had an issue, and was more concerned about what she wanted than what D needed. Ignorant and selfish. It happens. We're hoping as D heads off to college this year that she can vet some potential roommates to see if she can get an allergy-friendly suite.
  • 88jm1988jm19 Registered User Posts: 573 Member
    For those who use an epipen I just wanted to let you know that the Auvi-q is back and you may be able to get it for free.
  • yankeeinGAyankeeinGA Registered User Posts: 224 Junior Member
    Tons of great advice here already. Just to add, from personal experience: My current college kid is a vegetarian and has nut allergies. Her school did a good dog-and-pony show about accommodating food preferences/allergies, but (surprise) the reality simply didn't match up with what was promised. (Welcome to the south, where every vegetable touches a pork product!) I have both gently and not-so-gently encouraged her to advocate for herself -- ask to meet with the head of Food Services, for example -- but she is reluctant to do so. I find this frustrating as we are paying thousands for food she's not eating, but there's only so much I can force her to do in that respect.

    Our solutions thus far (and next year when she's not a freshman and not required to have a meal plan, we will probably revamp some):
    * She has a larger-than-a-cube dorm fridge, and we were delighted to discover you can now buy a dorm fridge with a separate-door freezer compartment. This allows her to buy things like Morningstar Farms and Boca frozen entrees she can microwave in the room, plus she can keep high-protein snacks like hummus, yogurt, and cheese on hand.
    * She likes smoothies, so I got her a tiny Hamilton Beach single-serve blender and some protein powder. She can grab fruit at the dining hall and make her own smoothies.
    * I don't love how much microwaved mac-and-cheese and sugary oatmeal she eats, but they're decent on protein, easy to make, and shelf-stable.
    * Most school meal plans have some sort of associated Dining Dollars which can be used at nearby fast food places, and in her case she's able to eat at a local burrito place (where they're good about allergens) pretty regularly using the money already in her account.
    * Her dorm has a kitchen, and there are a few things she's willing to cook that go beyond tiny-fridge-and-microwave, so we make sure she has the tools to do that.
    * I periodically send her a case of GoPicnic meals, which are like Lunchables but organic and allergen-aware. (She likes the sunbutter crackers and hummus ones, and each box also has a fruit product and other munchies, and everything is individually packaged. The hummus ones have a little nut mix, I think, but it's not touching anything else and she just gives it to a non-allergic pal.) In a pinch she can grab one of those and sit in the dining hall with her friends.

    Unless it would be life-threatening to live in the dorms (and I know that's a possibility in some cases), I'd recommend against an apartment as a freshman. I think what they gain from the "we're all in this together" atmosphere and RAs on hand outweighs the annoyances about food. Just my opinion, of course.
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