Sorry for my absence- it was midterm week. Lots of craziness and busyness. I was back and forth between school and home and had little time to eat let alone do anything not school related. But, this inspired this post: how to be gluten free in college (and high school).
I’m going to start off with high school (might as well go in chronological order, right?). I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease during my junior year of high school. It was a big change and really tough. All of sudden I couldn’t buy school lunches or go to the vending machine without being worried about getting ‘glutened.’ And don’t get me started on the parties where I couldn’t eat the pizza or birthday cake.
I do have a few tips I gathered up from my time in high school. Maybe they will help someone else who is having a hard time.
1. Always carry safe snacks. My high school vending machines had no gluten free options. And a full day of going to classes makes you pretty hungry. I always kept a box of gluten free snack bars in my locker for a quick pick me up in between classes. It was convenient, and I knew I wouldn’t get sick from eating them.
2. Pack your own lunches. After my diagnoses, I wouldn’t dare eat anything from the cafeteria. Unless you talk directly to the kitchen staff about your intolerance, there is no way of knowing if something is completely safe or not. And don’t even get me started on cross contamination in a high school cafeteria. There’s probably even gluten on the walls in there.
3. Bring your own food to parties. I know this might be ‘lame,’ but it’s a really good idea. I would always feel too weird to do it but then would go the whole night being hungry. Looking back, I wish I had. This leads me to my next point….
4. Don’t be ashamed of your intolerance. If you saw one of my previous blog posts, you’ll see that I have gotten a lot of snarky reactions when I told people about not eating gluten. Sometimes people can just be really mean, especially people in high school. Just ignore the hate.
I remember how hard it was in high school being gluten free. If any of you high schoolers are out there and are looking for a friend, I’m always here to talk to.
Now… let’s get to college.
College is totally different than high school. Your schedule is a lot more open, yet you have a lot more work. You also are separated from your parents and therefore don’t have them to cook safe food for you. Full disclosure, I commute to college and still live with my parents who still cook for me… so I might not be an expert on being gluten free in college. But I do spend a lot of my time there, and therefore are faced to get some meals on my own. Here are some tips for that:
1. Pick a safe school. I’m not saying base your choice of school on whether or not you can eat there, but it is an important factor. Always look into their cafeteria and food options before committing.
2. Cook your own meals. Most freshman are required to live in a dorm the first year. However, you could get special privileges and get an apartment on campus instead so you can have a kitchen and cook your own food. That way, you know it will always be gluten free.
3. Keep your dorm/apartment stocked. This will definitely help when it comes time to cook your own meals. It will also help you when you want a snack and don’t know what is safe from the tiny college market or vending machines.
4. Be open about your intolerance. Just like I said above with high school, being open is always best. Don’t hide it. I find in college people are more interested in wanting to know how I eat and live rather than making rude remarks about it.
5. Find gluten free friends. This one might be more difficult, but there are a lot more people in college. I know a few people at my school that are also gluten free, and its nice to get lunch with them every once and a while and share recipes and stories.
If all else fails, you could commute to a school (if you have one around you) and have your parents cook for you for another four years. It’s not a terrible option (I would know :)).