Practical Parenting Tips for College Students with Food Allergies

From Guest Blogger AllerCuisine

Going to college and moving away from home is a much-anticipated milestone for many young adults.  However, this transition can be particularly stressful for those with food allergies.  Likely the first extended period without direct parental supervision, they are in a position in which they must be fully responsible for managing their food allergy.  

In addition to managing the typical college concerns such as developing strong study habits, meeting deadlines, and balancing work, school, and social lives, students with food allergies need to remember to carry their medications, make safe food choices and educate a whole new community on their food allergy.  

Meanwhile, parents are also navigating uncharted territory.  That ol’ tried-and-true back-to-school routine no longer fits the mold when it comes to sending your child off to college.  Suddenly, you are riddled with anxiety and fear of the unknown.  The never-ending cycle of questions begins…Will your teen have access to safe food? If your teen forgets their emergency medications and has an allergic reaction, will epinephrine be readily available? Will their new friends and roommates understand and respect their food allergy?  Seeing your child off to college will inevitably result in ugly crying, but here are a few tips to help ease your food allergy woes!

Preparing for the First-Year Experience with Food Allergies

One of the greatest food allergy parenting lessons is to ALWAYS be prepared!  Don’t wait until your student arrives on campus to request food allergy accommodations.  When scheduling a campus tour, inquire about accommodations with disability services, dining facilities, emergency services, and residence life. The Lesley University settlement requires colleges to make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices, and procedures for students with celiac disease and/or food allergies.  

Packing the Essentials 

Textbooks…laptop…class schedule…EPINEPHRINE ✔  Let’s face it, risk-taking behaviors in college are not uncommon.  Studies show that college students are less likely to carry epinephrine with them at all times.  Continue to reinforce epi-carrying habits and check with your child’s college to see if they supply undesignated epinephrine.  Many states have passed legislation that allows, but does not require, higher education institutions to stock epinephrine.   

Dodging Dining Hall Mishaps

For a student that is accustomed to bringing a carefully packed lunch from home, a trip to the campus dining hall can be daunting!  Our customizable allergy alert card can simplify the college dining experience.   

Providing Food Allergy-Friendly Brainfood 

Ideally, your child will have ample access to safe food in the dining facility, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a care package with their favorite safe snacks!  Busy enjoying all that newfound time as an empty nester?  Opt for a food allergy-friendly subscription box such as Tasterie or Num-Nums Munch Box.  

Cleaning Hacks for Dorm Life

You know those nifty shower caddies college students use in the dorms?  Here’s a food allergy hack!  Fill a shower caddy with cleaning supplies so your child can fight off cross-contact concerns by cleaning and sanitizing shared living and cooking spaces. 

Preparing for this new chapter can be scary, but there is no need to panic when your child with food allergies prepares to fly the nest in pursuit of a college education.  No matter how grown your kids become, you will always have their back, and we’ll have yours! 

The Food Allergy Institute