Advice From Students Like You

About living on campus with food allergies

What is your allergy?
I am allergic to all manner of nuts and seafood.

What is one thing you wish you would have known as a new freshman on campus with a food allergy?
The menu rotations at each dining hall. It could be frustrating to find a item listed on the online daily menu that I wanted to eat and then arrive at the dining hall only to find they weren’t actually serving it. With limited options from food allergies, it becomes more of an issue than simply not eating what I want.

What was your favorite place to eat and why?
Cafe V. The options generally fit with my allergies and the menu was consistent.

What was your favorite meal?
Stir-fry at Pines.

What resource helped you the most with figuring out what to eat?
The Dining section in the UCSD app. It was actually a lot more useful before the new update. They reworked the user interface and now it is extremely confusing to use.

What was the biggest challenge living on campus with a food allergy?
A lot of times it is hard to find even the name for a food in the dining halls, let alone what ingredients might be in it.

How can we help improve your experience on campus?
Labeling of food in dining halls could be improved. It would be really great to have a little card or something next to each food item with its name and some common allergens (e.g. gluten, nuts) listed.
-Aaron Chen, UCSD student

 

What is your allergy?
My allergy is soy, peanuts, and garbanzo beans.

What is one thing you wish you would have known as a new freshman on campus with a food allergy?
I wish I had known sooner about all the great grocery store options with allergy friendly foods that are close to campus and the bus routes to get to them.

What was your favorite place to eat and why?
To be honest, Starbucks was my most visited spot. It was right by my classes and the library, and all of their sandwiches and foods had ingredient labels. Other than that, Cafe V was close to my dorm and had a very friendly staff. 

What was your favorite meal?
A couple of times I called in when Cafe V was serving mac and cheese bowls, and the kitchen was able to accommodate a nice plate with pasta and broccoli. It was delicious. 

What resource helped you the most with figuring out what to eat?
The Triton app was helpful, in that it showed what the dining halls were serving and the ingredients in some of the foods. 

What was the biggest challenge living on campus with a food allergy?
The most frustrating thing about living on campus with an allergy was when my friends wanted to spontaneously grab a meal somewhere and I didn’t have time to call ahead for my separately prepared meal. So I would have to either wait for my food for longer or grab something like fruit that I knew I was safe with. 

How can we help improve your experience on campus?
It would be nice if you posted within the dining halls themselves little cards that identified major allergens within the food being served. These could be either on the glass cases themselves or on a bulletin board. That way I could easily go into a dining hall quickly and grab something rather than call ahead and have to wait for 20 minutes or so. 

Other advice?
There is a lot to be accomplished with a microwave and the kitchen provided in the main area downstairs in the Residence halls. My main advice to those who have food allergies is to learn how to cook a handful of quick recipes for yourself. The markets have a lot of ingredients to use in larger cooking projects and frozen meals. I actually ended up mostly cooking for myself rather than go into dining halls.
-Anonymous, UCSD student

 

What was your favorite place to eat and why?
My favorite dining hall was Ocean View because the food is usually delicious, healthy, gluten-free (not the pizza though) and soy-free. I really, really like the salads there, though I really wish they were available at dinner time as well.

What is one thing you wish you would have known as a new freshman on campus with a food allergy?
One thing I wish I had known was that the different markets have very different items in stock and that The Village Market has the best gluten-free items, followed by Sunshine Market. Once I realized that, I was a lot better off.
Once I was able to go out and explore I realized there were a few things at each dining hall or restaurant that I could eat. I basically just compiled a menu for myself with a few options at each place and was so much happier once I felt like I had some freedom.

What was the biggest challenge living on campus with a food allergy?
I think my biggest challenge as a freshman with food allergies was just scrounging enough to eat. I lost a lot of weight at first because I had mobility issues for a few months and the nearby dining hall for me was Cafe Ventanas, which frankly has a pretty unhealthy menu, mostly grain-based. Cafe Ventanas’ menu is surprisingly American for  being in the international college; I wish HDH would re-vamp the menu! Especially because the people and atmosphere at Cafe V are so great.
-Anonymous, UCSD student

 

On healthy options at the Dining locations

Hello my name is Sandra Perez. I am a 4th year ERC psychology student. Healthy eating has been something that has been important to me since coming to UCSD. You see, I have always been unhealthy and overweight since I was 5 years old. When I came to college, I wanted to change my lifestyle and eating habits to become healthy.  I began exploring my eating options all over campus. To my surprise, I was able to eat healthy foods without having to eat salads every day. When people think about eating healthy, they usually think of salads, but the truth is you are able to eat other things on campus other than salads that are still pretty healthy.

I began tweaking my favorite foods and making them a bit healthier. For example, at 64 degrees they have a burger station that makes delicious burgers. If I was not trying to have a healthy lifestyle, I would normally order a pepper jack cheese burger with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, chipotle mayo, and ranch on a buttered bun. In order to make it a bit healthy, I changed my order to a lettuce wrapped turkey burger with no cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and mustard. I began making these healthy changes for all of my favorite foods. This made it easy for me to eat foods I still loved in a healthy way. It was through these changes that I was able to develop a healthy eating lifestyle.

After eating on campus for 1 full year I realized all HDH units have healthy options if I just exchanged some ingredients with a healthy alternative. Do not be shy to change things up and try something that is different. Thanks to HDH I was able to eat a variety of healthy foods just by changing a few simple ingredients.