College move-in day is on the way, and you couldn’t be more excited. All the new people you’ll be meeting, different activities to be taking part in, and, most importantly, freedom! College is to be looked forward to, and the new experiences should be embraced! You may be worried that your PKU may interfere with living up the college experience, but rest assured, you can handle it!
We’ve got a few things to keep in mind to help you along the way.
You’re on your own now!
Yes, that freedom you were looking forward to, it’s here as somewhat of a double-edged sword. Mom and dad won’t be here making sure that you’ve taken your formula, nor will they be booking your doctor checkups to make sure everything’s going well. This may sound like a lot of responsibility, but hey, they’ve been doing it for themselves and you for all this time, you’ll be just fine!
Remembering to drink your formula is one of the most important things here, and while yes, you’ve been doing this for a while and it’s become a routine, bear in mind that you’ve just taken what was once your daily routine and completely flipped it on its head.
Quick Tip: Set a recurring alarm on your phone with a message to drink your formula. If you’re like most adults (how’s that sound?) in the country, you’ve got your phone on you at almost all times; use it. Just like your morning alarm, if you swipe it to snooze, it’ll go off shortly after to remind you again. Just don’t forget to put your phone on silent before class.
You make your own schedule
Dinner isn’t served in college whenever mom yells up the stairs, and you don’t have an allotted little period of time like high school for you to duck into the cafeteria. Your classes can, and very well may be at some random times of the day, some even maybe at night. It’s important that you not only figure out a schedule that works for you, but that you get your meals in.
With the limitations of what you can eat with PKU standing in the way of sometimes getting your full daily dose of nutrients, it’s very important that you make sure you’re eating enough.
No, this doesn’t change during finals week either. Bring some low pro snacks to munch on with you to the library when you’re studying if it’s what it takes; a nourished body will help you out much more for that exam than one that’s gone all day without eating with eyes glued to the inside of a textbook or laptop screen.
Quick Tip: Take a look at your schedule for your week, before classes start, and map out what your walk is going to be like on those days. Passing a dining hall on your way to an academic building? Leave a few minutes earlier to stop in for a quick bite before class. Not only will knowing your path help you figure out the optimal course of action for staying fed, but it’ll help you not look like a freshman when you know exactly how to get to your buildings! Double win!
Learn where and what you can eat
Colleges aren’t new to the idea of special diets, whether it’s from allergies or otherwise. You may be worried that your options won’t exactly be huge in college, but you might just be surprised! Colleges are notorious for having places scattered across campus to eat, whether it’s school-run buildings, or some of your more typical chains along the way that you may be more familiar with. There are plenty of options to choose from, but you may need to do your research.
If you’re checking out a school-run dining hall, take a look at your school’s website to find a faculty list to find a higher-up in dining services, or head into the dining hall itself to find somebody you can talk to. Chances are there’ll be somebody from the administration you can speak with that’ll be willing and ready to help accommodate you and your dietary concerns. You’re a paying customer after all. They can give you tips or pointers on where to go on campus to find what you can eat, or, maybe, put in some special requests to help make sure you’re fed. The dining hall folks are some of the nicest ones — make friends with them.
If the dining hall doesn’t sound very tempting, there’s always the option to go buy food yourself to keep in your room. Most schools have a bus system that will take you near a grocery store to pick up some low pro odds and ends, or you could make friends with somebody that has a car if you don’t have one yourself.
Quick Tip: If you choose to go with the shopping yourself route, find a local store to shop at in the area instead of a big chain. More times than not these local stores will offer some sort of incentive or discount for students going to the nearby school; have your student ID ready and ask if you aren’t sure.
…But mom and dad are always just a phone call away
Beyond just PKU measures, mom and dad are always going to be within reach. Sure you might revel in your newfound freedom for the first little while, and it may be them that calls you first, but the point is that they’re there. You’ll soon find out that they’ve somehow got all the answers to just about everything you’ve got to ask; don’t ask them everything, let them enjoy their new freedom too, but know that the option is there.
Final Quick Tip: Care packages. Let me just tell you that there’s nothing more satisfying than a care package sent from home. Your parents know your favorite low pro foods and snacks already, and there’s a decent chance they’re the ones helping to supply your formula. Drop a hint (or ten) about how nice it would be to get a package with some goodies in it every now and then – they might even beat you to the concept. They’re a nice reminder of home while you’re away, and it’s always good to know you were being thought of. Bonus points for the actual contents too.