Embarking on your university journey is an exhilarating experience, but for those with food allergies or coeliac disease, it can also pose unique challenges.
Navigating campus life while prioritising your health requires careful planning and proactive strategies. Drawing from the experiences of our social media manager, Beth, who successfully completed three years of university without a single allergic reaction, this guide offers a wealth of tips to help you not only survive but thrive throughout your academic adventure.
Our top tips
1. Open dialogue with flatmates
Initiate a conversation with your flatmates about your allergies or coeliac disease as soon as you move in. By fostering open communication, you’ll raise awareness of your medical condition and reduce the risk of allergens entering your shared living space.
Whilst you might feel nervous to share this information with new people, it is really important to share this information with people who will live with you. Never feel embarrassed to talk about your allergies.
2. Empower your peers
Teach your flatmates how to use your AAI’s/epi-pens and share essential information about your condition. This information will ensure that they’re equipped to respond effectively in case of an emergency and know how to help you.
3. Medication must-have
Make it a habit to carry your prescribed medications with you at all times, especially when heading out for social events. Being prepared for unexpected allergen exposure is a crucial aspect of staying safe.
4. Personal utensils and cooking space
To eliminate cross-contamination risks, keep your cooking utensils and equipment separate in your room or in a separate part of the kitchen (if there is enough space).
This will prevent others from inadvertently using items that could compromise your safety.
5. Thoughtful food storage
Allocate a designated area in your room for storing allergen-safe foods. This proactive measure minimises the chance of cross-contamination from shared kitchen spaces and you will also ensure that you always have access to food options that you trust.
6. Sensitive to sharing
Steer clear of sharing drinks and participating in activities that involve communal cups or utensils. These scenarios can increase the likelihood of allergen exposure and could really put your health at risk.
7. Tap into campus resources
Explore the resources available on campus, such as disability services and dining facilities. Many universities offer allergen-friendly menus and accommodations if you proactively reach out and enquire.
8. Know your local options
Familiarize yourself with nearby restaurants and grocery stores that offer allergen-free or coeliac-friendly options. This knowledge expands your dining choices beyond campus. Our website is also a great place to look for recommendations, especially for some of the bigger cities.
9. Join allergy support groups
Seek out or establish support groups for students with allergies. Connecting with peers who understand your challenges can provide a sense of community and helpful insights.
10. Plan ahead for events
Before attending social events or gatherings, reach out to event organizers to discuss your dietary needs. This proactive approach ensures that you can participate fully without compromising your health.
Starting your new chapter at university
Your university journey should be a time of exploration and growth, free from the worries of allergen exposure. By integrating these comprehensive tips into your lifestyle, you can confidently embrace all that university life has to offer. Beth’s successful experience serves as a testament to the effectiveness of these strategies. With open communication, empowerment, preparedness, and a proactive mindset, you’ll not only thrive academically but also revel in the social experiences that define this chapter of your life.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read our blogs.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas you would like to share with us.
You might also enjoy reading Growing up with severe allergies and flying the nest.