5 Tips For Eating Well With Severe Allergies at University

Sharing a collaborative post with tips for eating well with severe allergies whilst you are at college or university that we hope you will find helpful. As a family with food allergies, ourselves, I know the day will come when I have to send my kids off into the world and they will need to know how to manage eating well with severe allergies themselves.

Eating well in college can be challenging enough without factoring in severe allergies. Students with severe food allergies must understand how to navigate college life with their dietary restrictions and still get the nutrition they need. Dennis Bonnen discusses how you can eat well with severe allergies in college or at university.

Know Your Allergens

First and foremost, students with severe allergies must know their allergens and what foods contain them. This knowledge will help them make smarter grocery shopping decisions, selecting items from campus dining halls and preventing accidental allergen consumption. It is also a good idea to carry an emergency epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) on your person at all times in case of accidental ingestion of an allergen.

Eating Well With Severe Allergies

Plan Ahead

Planning is vital for those with severe food allergies when commuting off-campus. Meal prepping can save time and money, but more importantly, it can ensure that you eat food that adheres to your dietary restrictions and meets nutritional requirements. Additionally, when going out to eat at restaurants or ordering takeout, it is essential to ask questions about the ingredients used in each dish so you can double check you’re not accidentally consuming anything you’re allergic to.

Eating Well With Severe Allergies

Talk To The Staff

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have any questions or concerns about the food they serve. It is always best practice to inform the staff at your school’s cafeteria or dining hall of your allergies and ask them for advice on how they can accommodate your needs. They may even be able to provide allergen-free alternatives! Additionally, it is always helpful if they know which ingredients they need to avoid when preparing meals for those with severe allergies. Doing this will help ensure that everyone knows how severe these allergies are and will keep them from accidentally putting someone at risk for an allergic reaction. 

Be Communicative

Another way to ensure that you’re eating safely while respecting your allergies is by communicating with those around you—whether it be your roommates or classmates—about your dietary needs. If someone offers you food that isn’t safe for you, politely refuse and explain why to prevent confusion or hurt feelings later on down the line. You may even want to consider bringing a card explaining your allergy that you can easily hand out if needed.

Be Prepared & Stock Up On Safe Foods

There may be times when eating in the cafeteria or dining hall isn’t feasible due to scheduling conflicts or other reasons. In these cases, it’s always best practice to pack snacks & meals ahead of time to ensure they’re allergy-friendly and nutritious whenever necessary. For example, packing pre-portioned snacks like nuts & seeds, trail mix, and fruit and veggie sticks is a great way to ensure you get the nutrition you need without fearing an allergic reaction. Exposure from unknown sources in a public setting, such as a cafeteria or dining hall setting, would present a potential exposure risk for those suffering from severe allergies.

Eating Well With Severe Allergies

Additionally, packing pre-made meals such as soups and salads allows for convenience while still meeting nutritional needs without risking exposure from unknown sources found within public settings such as cafeterias/dining halls. Preparing ahead of time makes it easier and more manageable for those suffering from severe food allergies, especially while attending college. 


Eating well with severe food allergies while attending college can be challenging, but understanding the basics of meal planning and communication will make navigating this stage of life much easier. Always remember that staying informed about your allergens and having quick access to an EpiPen are essential components of managing severe food allergies during your college years. Dennis Bonnen shares these tips to help students with severe allergies stay healthy and safe while getting the nutrition they need during their undergraduate experience. Eating well with severe allergies is challenging but can be done.

Posted in Health and tagged eating well with severe food allergies, food allergies at university.