Living with Roommates and Food Allergies

When you have food allergies, one of your greatest fears is going to college and living with a roommate. In your dorm, you may share a microwave, fridge, or even a kitchen, so you may be justifiably worried about possibly coming into contact with your allergens. You have to make sure that your meals aren't subjected to cross-contamination and that your roommate understands the severity of your allergies. If you share utensils and plates, you have to check that they are throughly washed and clean. It can be difficult to find a roommate that is comfortable taking the necessary procedures to keep you safe.

Before heading off to college, I looked for a roommate on Facebook. I was afraid of being randomly assigned a roommate because I wouldn't know if she would be okay living with me and my food allergies. As the deadline for choosing roommates neared, I joined a Snapchat group and asked if anyone was still looking for a roommate. Luckily, Chevy, a girl from the group, was also looking for a roommate, and we FaceTimed later that day. We had so much in common, and we both agreed that we were a great match! I told her about my food allergies and all of the precautions we both needed to take in order to avoid a possible allergic reaction. I made it clear that I couldn't be in the same room as a food that contains cheese dust because that would trigger a reaction. I advised her to learn how to administer the epinephrine auto-injector. She was very understanding of all these precautions and said that she will do her best to avoid cross-contamination. Later that day, Chevy and I both signed our roommate agreement forms. It was official. We were roomies!

For the past two years of being Chevy's roommate, I can say that she has been the best when it comes to food allergies. (Maybe she isn’t so good at cleaning the dishes, but it's okay - neither am I.) Sometimes, when she would want Doritos from the vending machine, she chose a different snack because I couldn't be around cheese dust. She made sure that her food was on a different rack in the fridge and that it was covered up so it wouldn't be exposed to my food. One time, Chevy even went to the store and bought snacks that we could both eat and share! She knows how to administer the EpiPen and takes every precaution necessary to keep me safe. Aside from discussing my food allergies, we get along very well and have fun! Sometimes, we have a movie night where we sync up the audio on our phones and watch the movie on different screens. My mom would even buy us allergy friendly popcorn so I wouldn't feel left out.

If you are worried about finding a compatible roommate, I suggest telling potential roommates about your food allergies first. You will know instantly if he/she is willing to avoid your allergens in order to keep you healthy and alive. If your potential roommate is not comfortable with this, then no sweat. There are plenty of students out there who will accommodate you. You may even find someone with food allergies!

However, if you choose a roommate that you discover later in the year to not be accommodating, contact your RA (Residential Advisor) to share your concerns. This will help you with the situation.

Good luck!

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