Dealing with Specialty Diets and Food Allergies in College

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When it comes to campus life and trying to balance classes, homework, and an attempt at a social life, what you can eat is often the last thing on your mind.  But if you’re someone who suffers from food allergies or is on a restricted diet, figuring out what you can eat and actually getting your hands on it should totally take priority.  After all, how can you manage everything else if you’re starving or in serious stomach pain?

What if you are trying out the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? How about a gluten intolerance? Cafeterias aren’t known for being the most friendly to restrictive diets, although they are getting better.

Without further ado, here are our top three tips for dealing with specialty diets and diet restrictions on campus.

TIP #1 – DO YOUR RESEARCH

Step number one is definitely to break out your laptop and do some research on restaurants, cafes, and shops around your campus.  Even your school cafeteria may have some info or reviews online!  There are plenty of specialty websites out there that you can hit up for info depending on your diet or your dietary restrictions. 

If you can’t find any information online, you can always hit up the restaurant itself and ask for clarification on what you can eat.  Knowing where and what you can eat ahead of time will help you feel comfortable and confident when you head out, freeing up your mind to worry about other things instead (like that paper due tomorrow morning you haven’t started yet).

TIP #2 – ASK AROUND

If you can’t find the info you need browsing online, you can totally ask around to figure it out.  Ask your classmates, roommates, professors, anyone.  Someone you know may have the insight that you need to figure out where and what you can eat on campus.

Another great resource would definitely be the staff of your on-campus eateries.  If you’re not sure what you can have, ask to speak to the manager or one of the chefs to get their insight and opinions.  They will be able to provide you with an honest answer on what you can eat and may be able to even incorporate some of your food suggestions into the menu, too! 

TIP #3 – HIT UP THE GROCERY STORE

As always, one of the easiest ways to make sure that what you’re eating fits with your specialty diet or restrictions it to just make it yourself.  If you’re living in an apartment on campus with a kitchen or have access to one, whipping something up for yourself to eat that you know is within your restrictions is totally the safest thing to do.

If you don’t have access to a kitchen or really have the time to cook for yourself, pick up some healthy snacks to stash in your room and bags for when you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up.  That way, you have something you can eat if you need to in a pinch, like an unexpected late night study session or night out on campus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Remember, if you have dietary restrictions you can still totally eat on campus.  Just make sure to do your research, ask around if you need help, and hit up the grocery store if you need to for snacks and other goodies.  All of this can absolutely help you feel more comfortable and less stressed on campus!

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OCM Staff
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