WashU Expert: Six tips for coping with food allergies in college

​Talk to the campus chef, new roommates, leading nutritionist advises

For freshmen with food allergies, the college dining hall can be a dangerous place. Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and a leading national food expert, encourages new students to enlist campus dietitians and food service providers to help them stay safe.

“For some students, this is the first time they’ve had to manage their food allergies on their own,” Diekman said. “Colleges today realize the critical importance of accommodating students with food allergies. Still, there are some steps students can take, such as contacting the campus dietitian, to help stay safe.”

Here Diekman shares six tips to help students manage their food allergies:

  • The first step in managing your food allergy is to contact the campus registered dietitian who can help you learn about foods served on campus.
  • Next, learn what resources the campus disabilities office provides.
  • When it comes to dining, many universities post their menus online or at the point of purchase, so check to see if menus are marked for the presence of food allergens.
  • Ask about a possible meeting with a chef to discuss your food allergy and how to safely get the nutrition you need.
  • It will be important to talk with your roommate or roommates about your food allergy, so that food is kept safely in your room. The residential life staff can help with this as well.
  • The most important step is to make sure you speak-up about your needs, so that you can get the nutrition you need in a safe way.