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Campus Compassion: Empowering Students in the Dining Hall

With 33 million cases in the U.S., it’s likely you or a loved one are living with a food allergy.  The thought of eating your allergen can be terrifying, as even trace amount triggers severe or deadly symptoms. You’ve got enough to worry about this semester! Life during your Luxeathon gets crazy complicated, but mealtime shouldn't be. Implementing a few simple precautions can put the fear of allergic reactions out of your mind. Here’s some information to keep you safe from food allergies and free to focus on getting to that winner's circle.  


How Food Allergies Work 

Food allergies cause a reaction in your immune system from eating a specific food. This can give you hives, throat-swelling, or even cause the body to go into a potentially fatal state of shock (anaphylaxis). Some of the most common and severe allergens are peanuts, shellfish, and soy. There is no cure for allergies, so it’s crucial to avoid your allergy-inducing food. 


Allergy-Safe Eats on Campus 

Having a food allergy can be scary, especially since major allergens are popular cooking ingredients like eggs, milk and nuts. Allergy awareness is a top priority for Campus Dining by Thompson Hospitality. We have a variety of allergy-free menu options and clear labeling for meals that contain major allergens. For those with seafood allergies, check out some vegan dining options in our previous article Eating With Ease (page 10). If you’re unsure about a meal’s allergy content, talk to your dining staff. You can also submit a Don’t Be Shy, Identify form or speak to your campus executive chef. Shy, Ide 


Protecting Yourself 

Keeping clean is key to protecting yourself from trace amounts of allergens. Before you eat, wash your hands thoroughly and use a wipe to disinfect your table. It’s beneficial to be wary of commonly touched surfaces like door handles. Try carrying hand sanitizer with you to prevent any contact with allergens 


Every 10 seconds, a food allergy sends a patient to the emergency room. If you know you have one, avoiding trigger foods may not be enough. You may want to ask your doctor about carrying medication to combat emergency reactions.  


Know The Signs 

If you’re not sure if you have any allergies, don’t wait until a reaction to find out! Allergies typically spring up during childhood but can develop at any age. An allergist will discover any allergies you may have using allergy tests and family history. It’s also helpful to recognize symptoms that you’ve eaten an allergen. Within a few minutes to hours of eating, look out for hives, red skin, itching, swelling, coughing, and difficulty breathing. If you experience these, seek medical attention. To learn more about reactions and protecting yourself, check out the ACAAI Public Website


Staying safe and healthy doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Try implementing these precautions next time you're at the dining hall, because fueling up is essential to keep you performing at your best. Allergies may limit your diet, but they will never limit your capabilities. 

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