Gone vegan? Done with dairy? Adapting to your students’ changing dietary habits

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Since college is a time for your student to develop their independence, learn about themselves and others, and try new things, you may be expecting them to come home with a different outlook. They might also announce that they’ve changed their eating habits. Perhaps they’ve gone vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free. Whatever their new choice may be, here’s how to make meal times enjoyable for everyone when your student comes home for breaks. 


Ask your student what types of foods they would like to enjoy over the break.

Even though you may subscribe to the same eating habits, take an interest in some of the new foods your student has been enjoying lately. Having some of their new favorites on hand will take some of the pressure off when preparing family meals or snacks — you’ll know there will be something available for them to eat.

Don’t feel pressured to completely match every meal to their new eating lifestyle.

Yes, you want to be understanding and welcoming of your student’s new practices, but that doesn’t mean your whole family has to suddenly switch theirs, as well. As mentioned above, take into account some of the foods your student would like to enjoy and incorporate those items into meals. By including options, you’ll both be able to enjoy yourselves and further prepare your student to navigate their own dietary choices in the future. 

Be open to including new dishes at holiday meals.

Chances are your student has been following Instagram feeds and blogs that feature recipes for their eating style. Ask for their input when planning your holiday meals over the break. Your student might even have a few recipes up their sleeve that they’ve been wanting to try. See how you can add these new dishes onto your traditional table. 

Remind your student that balance is key.

No matter what eating habits your student is practicing, making sure they incorporate a balance of foods and nutrients throughout the day is important. Encourage your student to try new things in the dining hall, utilize the salad bar for easy veggie additions, check out some of the allergen-friendly offerings throughout the dining hall, and ask questions if they are unsure or are looking for something in particular. 

Portrait of Emily Holdorf


If your student would like help navigating the dining hall, finding balance in their diet, or getting advice about general nutrition, they can set up an appointment with Campus Dietitian Emily Holdorf by calling 315-228-6403.