Dining in College with IBD

Written by Colette Manley, National Council of College Leaders alumnus

Hey IBD’ers- My name is Colette. I am a recent graduate from Iowa State University and now attending graduate school. It hasn’t been easy, managing my Crohn’s while in school, but it is definitely possible. One of the hardest things for me to figure out was the dining situation.

My personal experience with food has not been positive. I have many trigger foods. Luckily, I had identified many of them before heading off to college. Here are a few things that helped me navigate dining while in college:
One thing that really helped me navigate food while away from home was my school’s dining website. The dining halls always posted their menus for the entire week online, which helped me plan my meals. I could look at which locations had foods that I could eat, and I could plan on making my own food on the days that there were no good options for me.

It was also helpful that our dining services had to-go boxes. I could load a box with foods I could eat for a few days in my dorm when I was very sick, like rice, mashed potatoes, and grilled chicken breast.

Finally, I was fortunate enough to have a kitchenette nearby, so I could boil a potato or make plain pasta when I needed it. It is truly amazing what you can accomplish with a microwave!

My biggest tip for navigating dining services at your school is to do as much research as you can before arriving at school. This may be through the school website, talking with the Disability Resource Center, or contacting dining services to see if they can make specific accommodations for you. If you will have access to a microwave, you can look up some simple microwave recipes. Do what works for you, know how your body reacts to foods, and be sure to advocate for what you need.

For more information about diet and nutrition in college, visit https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/campus-connection-golive/nutrition-college