What? There’s gluten in college?

It’s that time of year…college admissions letters are going out, reminding me yet again how thankful that I am not going through the college selection process, which seems to become more and more rigorous each year.

For those high school seniors with gluten intolerances, celiac or a food allergy, this can be a very scary time.  Going away to college means putting your health and well being into the hands of a food service company, not your parents.  Most likely, if you are living in a freshman dorm, you will not have access to your own kitchen for at least a year, if not four.  This restriction is terrifying to people like me who live with a limited diet.

For guidance, thoughts and sympathy, check out the following posts:

This year, I have two former students who both have celiac disease and are first years in college.  (That’s what we call it at UVA…we don’t say freshmen.)  They braved boarding school on this diet but I know, even though they are used to living away from home, it has been tough to get adjusted to the gluten-free life in the college world.  Change is always hard, whether changing school, location or even kitchen.  It’s a learning process.  I know they will love having their own kitchens next year in off grounds apartments.  (And we say ‘grounds,’ not campus.)

Do you know of any college campuses that work especially hard to accommodate dietary restrictions?  Is advocacy work being done on your campus to raise awareness?

Best of luck to all of you making your college decisions.  College is a wonderful time and you should be able to enjoy it just as much as your gluten-eating roommate.

Just remember,  Natty Light is not worth getting sick for, even late night at a fraternity party.  Or should I say especially late night a fraternity party? (Even though Natty Light is watery, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have gluten.)

natty light

  1. kris says:

    As someone who has a wheat allergy and works in the college food service industry, I certainly appreciate the challenges that those with any kind of dietary restrictions face when eating on campus. The tips and tricks listed in the other posts are excellent. I think the most important thing (and the hardest thing for some first years to do) is to talk to the people who are feeding you! We are professionals, and we want you to walk away from your meal happy and feeling safe. But while we provide basic training to our employees on food allergies, we don’t know how you handle your disease, so talk to us and let us know what is important to you – ask questions until you feel comfortable, and educate yourself about us and educate those who are preparing your food for you about you. We have a registered dietitian on staff who will help students navigate menus and educate them on our typical food prep methods and what we can do differently on request, and it continues to shock me how few of our students will go speak with her (even when referred by management or another student). Even if you are shy, you must take responsibility for your own health and speak up – there are lots of us who are eager to help if you let us know. :)

  2. Agreed. Natty Light is NEVER worth it. It just means bad decisions. I’m confident W&L is NOT on the cutting edge of dietary restrictions. We ate a lot of chicken cordon bleu…but I think most fro-yo is GF???

  1. There are no trackbacks for this post yet.

Leave a Reply