Here are few tips for those living with allergies.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign have identified that 16- 24-year olds are a high-risk group when it comes to managing their allergies, and this includes university students.
For many students, going to university is the first time they leave home, and the first time they have to manage their allergies on their own.
They might be living in shared accommodation, eating in restaurants and going out at night to pubs and clubs, and they have the huge responsibility for taking their own medication.
Mix this into a time when they are making the most of the freedom of leaving home and not being watched 24-7 by their parents! They don’t want to feel different or excluded – it’s a really important time to fit in and make new friends.
One top tip immediately is this – be wary of is cocktails – they often contain nuts – almonds, and when you’re out drinking it’s easy to get carried away in the moment.
Pros and cons of living in shared students’ accommodation:
Self-catering in your own accommodation:
- You can cook your own food and know exactly what has gone into it.
- You have more variety because you know about the alternative foods you can eat.
- Peace of mind
- Student houses and kitchens in general are not the cleanest of places, so you will need to do a lot of cleaning before prepping your food.
- There will probably be allergens in the fridge or communal areas.
- Your flat mates may not know anything about the dangers of cross contamination or even eating allergens in a space they share with you.
Seven tips from students already at college/university:
– If you live in shared accommodation, explain about your allergies to your flatmates, preferably before the term starts if you are able. You can often do this via various social media groups which tend to be created before you arrive. You can even share links to our products or blogs to start to educate them in a gentle, non-pressured way.
– Let them know what to do if you have a reaction, and where your medication is kept – preferably somewhere central, like the kitchen for everyone to have access. (keep a spare adrenaline auto-injector) in a communal place.
– Ask for a separate shelf in the fridge/freezer (one near the top helps to prevent cross-contamination), as well as your own cupboard to keep your food separate. If you can afford it, an even safer bet is to buy a mini fridge to keep in your own room. Be aware though that some university accommodation does not allow for this and you may need to ask special permission for it (this should be part of your overall care plan).
– Although it may seem extreme, use your own washing -up bowl, to prevent having to share dirty water.
– Keep your tea towels, cooking utensils and equipment completely separate, so they aren’t used with allergens, and always make sure everything is washed well.
– Ensure your flatmates understand the importance of keeping your food and your cooking equipment separate from theirs, and the danger to your life of them forgetting this for one minute.
– If you have a nut allergy, you may even want to take your own toaster.
Don’t forget to sign up to your local GP or university health centre and ask them to review your care plan.
Communication with your flatmates is key. You may feel embarrassed about your allergies, but once people have had the issues explained, they will understand and it will become ‘normal’ quickly.
Cooking for allergies when you’re a student:
Before leaving for college why not create a recipe book of your favourite dishes from home – ones that you would find easy to cook, and are easy to cook for one or two people.
Some recipe ideas that can be allergen free:
- Pancakes – with a variety of accompaniments
- Pasta with Vegetable sauce
- Salads with chicken
- Cottage Pie – that could be eaten over several days
- Cook things that can go into one pan, like chicken pieces cooked with vegetables
- Stir fries with rice noodles
Always have a stash of safe snacks and sweet goodies for when everyone else is tucking into chocolate and other snacks.
Visit our website for snacks, backing mixes and other safe foods that are quick and easy to prepare.
And if you need some more general information visit this link.