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Eating In College


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17 replies to this topic

#1 RachelisFacebook

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 09:52 AM

So, I'm in my freshman year of college, and eating here has become pretty much not an option. Even foods that I'm told are safe have given me incredible CC issues. So, until Christmas, what should I do? Any advice? I can't afford to eat out every day, but I certainly can't afford to be sick every day, either. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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"Always do what you are afraid to do."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Official Diagnosis: Apr 3, 2010
Officially went off gluten: Aug 2010
Possible corn intolerance discovered Dec 2010

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#2 dante'sgirl

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 07:35 PM

Before I moved into an apartment on campus, I did a lot of cooking in my room and the common area microwave (obviously make sure to keep everything covered for that option). Some of the easiest meal base options for me were the thai kitchen noodle carts/rice noodles bowls, etc. They don't require refrigeration, come in a bunch of varieties so you don't get bored, and you just add boiling water and let them soak. Thai Kitchen actually sells instant rice noodle packets similar to ramen that are about a dollar a pack, but they are a bit harder to find in stores, so I generally order them online. I usually kept precooked refrigerated chicken (like the stuff by tyson) or canned chicken to add in for some protein. Canned vegetables are great ad ins too. Depending on your refrigerator space, you could keep lettuce for salads and some cheeses, condiments, etc for wraps or sandwiches if you tend to keep bread items on hand - though if you just have a little freezer box that might be difficult depending on the brand you eat. I usually kept lettuce, a few condiments, hummus, yogurt, precooked chicken, barbecue pulled pork (Curly's is gluten free), eggs (microwaved in a mug), deli meat (Kroger private selection, boar's head, or hormel naturals) were usually my choices), and milk in my fridge. Then my primary non-refrigerator staples were the rice noodles, uncle bens ready rice and whole grain medley (be careful, a lot of the varieties have vermicelli), peanut butter for sandwiches/wraps, soups - progresso or amy's usually, canned beans, lots of cereal, rice tortillas, instant mashed potatoes, and fruit that stores well at room temp.

I know for me, I didn't really have a whole lot of spare time at lunch, so I usually had some sort of wrap or a simple salad and soup for lunch. Or sometimes snack type foods can make a great lunch if you don't have much time. Pretzels dipped in hummus and some yogurt is quick and easy. I also ate peanut or almond butter on apple slices or rice cakes.

You probably aren't supposed to have a rice cooker, but if you can work out somewhere to use one or just hide it...or maybe become really close to your RA, that opens up a lot of options. You can make just about anything in there though I don't know how much that would help since in a dorm room, the primary complication is lack of fridge/freezer space. It would make gluten free pasta a lot easier to cook. I have made pasta in the microwave before, but it certainly isn't an easy process This page gives some suggestions for rice cooker mealsMy link.

It's difficult to work with limited resources, but it can be done. The only real downside is its harder to use fresh unprocessed foods since you don't have the cold space, but its only temporary and hopefully you can work on getting into an apartment or something where you can actually cook.

Good luck and I hope the situation works out for you. Being gluten free in college can get tough - I'm glad I wasn't diagnosed until after my sophomore year last summer. I know even though I hated the food, eating in the dining hall with friends was a big part of the experience. Hopefully your friends will be great about eating with you. For the short time we weren't all in apartments, mine ended up getting their food to go and eating with me in my dorm room, so it turned out to be an ok situation.
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#3 RideAllWays

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 10:40 PM

You would be amazed what you can cook on a hot plate and in a toaster oven! I made stir-fries all the time and would take left overs, you could always get a mini fridge in your room and keep it stocked with veggies, you could eat tuna with rice cakes, nuts...lots!

My roommate and I once made a leg of lamb in our toaster oven in residence haha!
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#4 Jestgar

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 03:37 AM

You can make grilled cheese with aluminum foil and an iron...
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#5 bbuster

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 12:45 PM

A lifesaver for us has been ZonePerfect bars. You can get them at Wal-Mart and several other places (look in the diet food section - by the pharmacy in Wal-Mart), either individually or in a box of 5 for around $1 each. Not all of their flavors are gluten-free, but several are, including Double Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Caramel Cluster, Chocolate Almond Raisin, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Fudge Graham (despite the name). These are a high-protein bar that my son often packs for lunch or has at home as a snack.
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#6 RachelisFacebook

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:12 PM

I almost cried today in the dining hall!! I was browsing for something I could hopefully eat, and then I saw that there were steamed veggies. I was in line, and the girl serving DROPPED A ROLL IN THEM. Then, she plucks it out, and sets the roll aside. I got out of line thinking, well, can't eat THAT now. And then I had a horrible thought: How many times has that happened and I didn't know?! It makes me paranoid and now I want to cry. I don't know WHAT I'm going to do here.

I also talked to my RA, and we're allowed to have anything except hot plates and toasters (but toaster ovens are okay). So, I think I'm going to have myself a nice little appliance gathering this Christmas, and get a rice cooker and a toaster oven, possibly a mini George Foreman. And anything else I can think of. Next semester, no dining hall for THIS chick.

The thing is, I have a fridge and a microwave. However, every time I use the microwave, I blow the breaker because my RA next door has too much junk plugged in, and this is a VERY old building. Fail. >.<

Thanks for listening to me gripe and babble. /end rant.
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"Always do what you are afraid to do."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Official Diagnosis: Apr 3, 2010
Officially went off gluten: Aug 2010
Possible corn intolerance discovered Dec 2010

#7 Marc1

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:15 PM

I have had similar issues with dinning halls. At my school we have allergen information, but only if you ask for it. I ended up going to the kitchen and asking the chief what was in all the food on the menu. Some things that I thought were okay were not, and some that I thought were bad, I could eat. My college has set dining hall hours, I managed to talk the dining hall manager into letting me in right when the hall opens, that way I do not have to worry about cross contamination issues from other students that much. I still have to watch myself, but it is better than earlier in the year.

Try talking to the cooks and hall managers, most of the time if you explain your problems, they will try to help you. You have to be proactive. There is this girl at my college who has Celiac Disease the same as me, but does not want to talk to the cook. Two days ago I saw her stirring the chicken soup around, trying to see if there were any noodles in it. This occurred just as I walked out away from talking to the cook, who said if I asked him ahead of time, he could set aside a portion of soup for me before he added any of the noodles. Do not be that girl; you will have enough issues at college without creating entirely avoidable ones.

Even if you figure out the dining halls out completely, you might want to keep some gluten free food in your room. I usually keep a box of gluten free cereal in my room, some gluten free bread, stuff to put in a sandwich and some premade frozen meals that I bought at my local health food store. Annieís, Amyís, and Ianís brands all have at least some gluten free meals and products (though you have to read labels since most of their products are not gluten free) and all three of them are available at my local super market, though the price is generally better at my local health food store. I would keep more, except that my fridge is small and I have to share.
Hope this helps, good luck!
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#8 kareng

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 06:15 AM

I almost cried today in the dining hall!! I was browsing for something I could hopefully eat, and then I saw that there were steamed veggies. I was in line, and the girl serving DROPPED A ROLL IN THEM. Then, she plucks it out, and sets the roll aside. I got out of line thinking, well, can't eat THAT now. And then I had a horrible thought: How many times has that happened and I didn't know?! It makes me paranoid and now I want to cry. I don't know WHAT I'm going to do here.

I also talked to my RA, and we're allowed to have anything except hot plates and toasters (but toaster ovens are okay). So, I think I'm going to have myself a nice little appliance gathering this Christmas, and get a rice cooker and a toaster oven, possibly a mini George Foreman. And anything else I can think of. Next semester, no dining hall for THIS chick.

The thing is, I have a fridge and a microwave. However, every time I use the microwave, I blow the breaker because my RA next door has too much junk plugged in, and this is a VERY old building. Fail. >.<

Thanks for listening to me gripe and babble. /end rant.


If your dining hall isn't being helpful, you should talk to the disabilty office. Your paying for this and should be fed. The other thing is have your parents call & email the head of dining, head of dorms, head of the school, the disabilty office & anyone else they can think of. Some colleges will pay better attention to the parent who is paying.
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#9 brett31em

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:09 AM

If your dining hall isn't being helpful, you should talk to the disabilty office. Your paying for this and should be fed. The other thing is have your parents call & email the head of dining, head of dorms, head of the school, the disabilty office & anyone else they can think of. Some colleges will pay better attention to the parent who is paying.



Being in college with Celiac's effing sucks. Sometimes I have five classes back to back and find that there are limited healthy things I can bring that don't require cooking/refrigeration for on the go. I feel all your pain guys!

I know at my school, you are allowed to get an apartment, even as a freshman, if you have dietary needs that cannot be met by your dining hall. All you need is a note from your doctor! You should see what your schools offer.
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  • First diagnosed with IBS
  • Gluten-free diet eliminated ravenous hunger, spastic bowel every morning, some bloating
  • Gluten-free diet greatly reduced anxiety and panic attacks (to the point where it is absolutely unbelievable..after years of bad reactions to SSRIs), and rash on inner elbow
  • Some extended family with digestive issues beginning to think they may have it also
  • In process of testing for additional hormonal issues--possibly Celiac related

#10 GlutenFreeTwentySomething

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 05:44 PM

I would also look into maybe living off campus. If they can't feed you properly, you shouldn't be forced into it. I lived in dorms for two years, but luckily my school was really good about allergies, vegetarians, etc so I had more than enough food to eat. I actually keep a blog about being a student with Celiac Disease (and being on the gluten free diet) so check it out! See my profile.
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#11 pirateswin

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 11:39 AM

It sucks. Plain and simple.
However, it IS possible. Don't lose heart. Check out the awesome replies to my post in the "Coping With" forum. lots of good suggestions. http://www.celiac.co...7-always-hungry
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#12 Kari S

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 11:06 AM

I would also look into maybe living off campus. If they can't feed you properly, you shouldn't be forced into it. I lived in dorms for two years, but luckily my school was really good about allergies, vegetarians, etc so I had more than enough food to eat. I actually keep a blog about being a student with Celiac Disease (and being on the gluten free diet) so check it out! See my profile.



What kind of gluten-free foods did your school offer? My school doesn't really have a lot for me to eat and I know there are a lot of others with Celiac's on campus as well. The dining services asks for suggestions and I'm not really sure what to ask for because I've only been gluten-free for 4 months.
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#13 Marc1

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 09:31 PM

What kind of gluten-free foods did your school offer? My school doesn't really have a lot for me to eat and I know there are a lot of others with Celiac's on campus as well. The dining services asks for suggestions and I'm not really sure what to ask for because I've only been gluten-free for 4 months.


I have had similar issues at UC Santa Barbara. I can eat many things on the menu, meats, dairy items, vegetables and fruit, but hardly any of the grain based dishes unless I bring in or make something myself, like when I made gluten free brownies for a social event last week. Many of the dishes can be made gluten free with simple substitutions. Such as providing corn or rice tortillas for people who canít have flour tortillas, substituting gluten free spices for gluten containing spices (not a big issue since most spices are gluten free if they are pure), holding sauces or putting them on at a separate station in the food line, etc.

You might want to suggest Tinkyada gluten free pastas. They are found at Whole Foods, Lasenís, on the web and at some restaurant supply places so they are easy to get. They have several dozen varieties made from various gluten free substances so its very easy to get something everyone can have even if they have multiple allergies. They can be substituted in to make almost any dish gluten free.

One last thing, when you try to explain celiac disease to your dining hall manager, please please with cherries on top, on behalf of all celiacs, try to explain how celiac disease affects people in general, not just your own particular allergies. The last person with celiac disease who talked to the dining hall manager at UCSB before me told him that all celiacs were allergic to corn and potatoes and could have oats and buckwheat. Since all four of the other celiacs attending UCSB that I know of can all have corn and/or potatoes, but get sick on either oats, buckwheat or both, you can tell how much trouble this caused when we started school this year before we got it sorted out.
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#14 Hamster101

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 11:20 AM

I've found that eating at university is a big pain as well. On top of that unless you want to live on foods that are notoriously gluten free, most of the replacements are pretty pricey. It is very annoying, and I sympathise.

The only advice I can offer to to do the first option, and buy your own foods that you know are gluten free. If you are on a budget this may limit you to mainly vegetables (fresh or in a can, depending on price) and chicken, and this can be rather boring, so spend a little time establishing what stuff in your local shop is wheat free too.

I hope you find something to eat. It is a real pain.
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"When life gives you lemons, but you wanted lemonade, don't give up. Your dream is still possible, and it will be so much sweeter made with your own hands."

#15 shadowicewolf

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 04:40 PM

What you need to do asap is to contact your schools disability office, they can and WILL accomidate you and will fight for you in terms of food and such.
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