Back to School? Already?
My guest poster today (and my first! Give her a big welcome!) tells me its that time again. As if I need a reminder – 2 weeks and counting people! All the kidlets go off to school. But are YOU going off to school too? You’ll definitely find some encouragement in this post by Julie, the Campus Celiac.
Frat parties? Freshman 5? BEER?
It’s almost back-to-school time, and parents all over are seeing their kids off to their first year away at college. It’s an exciting time for young scholars with all it’s newfound independence, interesting people to meet, opportunities to seize, and of course the occasional frat party or two. While it is almost a given that many college freshmen will let their health go to the back burner, Celiacs will have to have their personal health much further up on their priority list than their non-Celiac peers do. College consists of some fragile stepping stones when it comes to maintaining a gluten free diet what with all the pizza, BBQs, ramen noodles, and lets face it… beer. Not to mention the fact that most college dining halls are crawling with gluten, making it difficult for a Celiac student to eat safely, let alone have variety in their meals. But don’t lose hope! It is extremely do-able to thrive as a Celiac in the new and exciting time of life that is college!
Tips to make it smooth sailing on your way to college:
-Do your research. This can be as simple as typing “gluten free at your university ” into Google, or as thorough as e-mailing the food services manager at your school. (I recommend doing the latter, regardless.)
-Be sure to set up a meeting with someone in a higher position at the dining halls such as the head chef, the manager, etc. Go over what they can do to meet your needs and be sure to ask if they have experience serving other celiacs. Set up this meeting within the first few days of you being there.
- If you are required to purchase a meal plan, but then realize that there is little for you to safely eat, don’t be afraid to speak to someone in either Disability Services or Housing Services to ask if they will adapt your plan to fit your circumstance.
- If your dorm room does not come with a microwave and/or mini fridge, invest in both. These will be godsends when you are too busy to leave the room or are having a hard time getting enough variety from the dining halls.
- Visit grocery stores near the school to scope out gluten free options. If you don’t see certain brands of food that you like, talk to the manager about it. They are usually really great about ordering foods that are requested!
- Get lots of packages full of gluten free goodies mailed from home. Not only will you be stocked with food for a while, but your friends will be jealous of the big care packages you’re getting!
- If possible, sign up to live in dorms that have kitchens- this way you can really get into cooking your own meals, insuring that everything is safe from cross contamination.
- If you are in a situation where you have to eat in the dining halls, get creative! Doing little things like bringing your own gluten free bread or a corn tortilla with you can open a lot of doors for meal varieties.
- Embrace your condition as a conversation starter- you will get asked hundreds of times about what Celiac Disease is, and pretty much everyone who asks is genuinely interested. Seize this as an opportunity to meet new people!
And most importantly…
- Don’t let Celiac Disease get in your way of experiencing college. Meet people, travel, learn a lot, go to parties, go crazy, whatever floats your boat! The college years should be some of the best years of your life. Here’s to not letting gluten get in the way of that!
About the Author: Julie Bourne is an undergraduate student at the University of Denver, studying Communications Studies (major), Italian, and Tourism Studies (minors). She began her blog, The Campus Celiac (http://thecampusceliac.blogspot.com) during her first year of college, and plans on taking her gluten free blogging through the remaining years of her college experience, including a study abroad trip to Italy. She has an open mind when it comes to potential careers for the future, but she hopes to incorporate plenty of writing, Italian-speaking, traveling, and of course a lot of gluten-free eating.