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Getting Out Of A Meal Plan At College
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So I'm heading off to college in the fall, and I'm currently awaiting a diagnosis. Currently, I will have to pay $1639.99 a semester, and I've been to their dining hall, and it's limited in terms of gluten free. There's a small cooler with a few bread items, a salad bar (with high CC risk), and a few vegetable items I'd feel safe eating (plain baked potatoes, boiled carrots, etc.). I don't want to pay that much money for a meal plan where I can't eat 90% of the items, and I feel like the CC risk in the cafeteria (it's a moderately sized public state university) would be extremely high. Does anyone have any tips for getting out of the mandatory meal plans?

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You will probably need an official diagnosis. Contact the Disiabilty department and find out what you might need. They may tell you that, even with a diagnosis, they provide gluten-free food so pay up.

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Thank you. The official diagnosis will most likely be in tomorrow so here's to hoping my school will be kind and understanding. They honestly provide like three gluten-free items, but maybe they'd be more careful if they had an actual celiac in the house...I don't think they do at the moment.

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You could print out ( with links to prove they are real) info from the various Celiac Centers. They all have a part where they have a "no gluten, not even a crumb" statement. Also, a note from your GI and regular doctor saying that those gluten-free provisions are not safe nor provide a balanced diet.

Have you talked to the food service and Disability Services yet? Maybe there are some accommodations made for the Celiacs but you didn't see it on a visit?

Have you thought about:

How will you provide food for yourself?

How you will get to a store to buy it ( if you don't have a car)?

How you will prepare it? A dorm might not let you have a crockpot, toaster, etc. They are hard to hide because the smell will waft out into the hallway.

Roommate who might not be sensitive and eat your gluten-free cookies? ( need a way to lock up food )

Getting this figured out before you get to school would be best. Having a written plan and documentation would also help. Having your parents involved will make them take you more seriously, too.

I don't remember how old you are. I'm assuming 18 or 19. I'm talking to you like I would to my 19 year old.

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Yeah, I am going to contact the disability center on campus, but I'm waiting until I have the diagnosis, because I need to have that in hand before they will even talk to me...I checked out their website.

I have the finances to purchase my own food (if I'm not paying a meal plan), and will be able to bring my own kitchen supplies (they have a dorm kitchen); additionally, there's a mini-fridge/microwave in my room. While I don't have a car, there are two grocery stores in close proximity, and I will have a bike. Both of my roommates are completely understanding (one of them has a gluten-free brother) and won't eat my food if I ask them not to.

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Yeah, I am going to contact the disability center on campus, but I'm waiting until I have the diagnosis, because I need to have that in hand before they will even talk to me...I checked out their website.

I have the finances to purchase my own food (if I'm not paying a meal plan), and will be able to bring my own kitchen supplies (they have a dorm kitchen); additionally, there's a mini-fridge/microwave in my room. While I don't have a car, there are two grocery stores in close proximity, and I will have a bike. Both of my roommates are completely understanding (one of them has a gluten-free brother) and won't eat my food if I ask them not to.

Good job! Looks like you have thought this out! Good luck! I would love to know how this works out. Keep posting, especially if you get resistance. We may be able to think of something.

My son goes to Colorado State. They seem to have very good precautions in place. But you wouldn't know about some of them if you didn't ask. Like fresh gloves, fresh surface, fresh sandwich ingredients, fresh knife, mayo, etc. things the ordinary kid doesn't see.

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Thank you! If I can't get them to waive the whole thing, I'd be happy with just paying a portion of the plan, and supplementing with my own foods. And I'll definitely post with what happens...I have another agonizing 24 hours before I know the diagnosis (not long at all in the scheme of things, but I'm just ready to know NOW haha).

Colorado State sounds fantastic. And the dining hall may be willing to make accommodations that I just don't know about yet. I'd need all of those precautions. I'm also trying to avoid processed foods because I've thrown my system for a loop with all the gluten I ate for the challenge. Plus I have a chronic yeast problem, so I need to be avoiding sugar anyway. Gah.

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I spoke with dining services and I'm not sure how I feel. They cited their gluten free cooler, and I've been there. It literally had one loaf of bread and some pizza crusts. They said the guy who does the pizzas could make me one, but it would be prepared in the same area as regular pizzas. I'd eat mainly rice and boiled vegetables...I don't trust anything else as I'm sensitive to MSG and am trying to eat holistically as I've made myself feel awful this summer from the gluten challenge. He said if there was anything I wanted I could ask, but I worry, as it seems I shouldn't be paying as much considering I can eat very little there.

By the way, I was officially diagnosed with Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance, but that makes no difference for me.

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Have you talked to the Disability office? Do you have something in writing ,from the doc , saying how he wants you to eat? You could write out for the doc what you want it to say.I wrote it and he copied it. YOu could email it & he could tweak it & then sign it. Spell check, etc

To School Administration of State U,

GFA has non Celiac gluten intolerance and sensitivities/allergies to X, Y, & Z. He cannot eat foods that have come into contact through food preparation with these foods. I have advised him to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet that does not contain any of these ingredients.

Because of these food restrictions, I have advised him to purchase and prepare his own food. I do not feel he can attain a healthy and safe diet from a college cafeteria enviroment.

sincerely,

Dr. Karen G

Something like that. Not too long but something that says you have a medical reason to eat a certain way and that the school could not accomadate. you could put something in about what it would take to accomadate you. Listing things like the basic no wheat, rye , barley, MSG, X, Y and Z in any foods. Also, a statement explaining that you cannot eat any foods that may have come in contact with the offending foods. a statement that you need a well rounded diet that includes meats, veggies, fruits, safe grains, dairy ? that has not been prepared with or come in contact with the unsafe foods.

Don't get silly and include liver and onions just because you don't like them. If you can't eat dairy but a tablespoon of butter in a batch of soup is OK, don't list it on your cc list. Don't abbreviate and don't use cc, use cross contact or may have come into contact with.

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Yes, I called the disability office this morning and they were MUCH more helpful than the director of food services, thank heavens. I'm now waiting to hear back from my doctor and schedule an appointment so I can get the documentation. I'm going to have my GP do it as opposed to my GI doctor because she knows more of my history. My GI doctor is sending a letter though. I'm going to make sure I include MSG and foods high in sugar, because they mess with my yeast issues. thank you for your advice!

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I had a meal plan on campus (also a medium sized state school) and it literally became my safe haven to eat. At first it was a struggle. I was in constant contact with the executive chef, finding out what I could eat, and how to get more options. The exec chef wasn't doing what I needed, so I arranged a meeting with the top guy, the director of our food services. I explained to him the importance of gluten-free and what needs to happen to make eating gluten free safe. I also reached out to a manager who was really interested in helping me. Things really started to change after that. By the end of one semester, the all-you-can-eat dining hall personally prepared my dinner every night based on my schedule and what I wanted to eat. They fully trained staff on gluten free. They had "allergen-free zone" kits that they prepared sandwiches on, separate pan/utensil for stirfry station, fully stocked gluten free fridge/toaster/microwave... I can go on.

Having a meal plan is convenient when you live on campus. If you find the right people, make your needs known as well as the solution to any issues, and if you really stick to your guns, you can see a lot of change in a short amount of time.

Another thing... you're not alone. Guarantee there's a handful more people on your campus eating gluten free.

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    • Thanks Stephanie & Gemini for the info. that the 4 of 5 doesn't apply to children. I wasn't aware of that until now. 
    • I think the posters above have given you very good information and I will throw in my 2 cents worth.  I am surprised that they did not test her DGP IgA also.  I am sure that would have been positive.  They switched off with antibody classes and usually they do both tests for both antibodies.  IgA is more specific to Celiac but the IgG is also useful.  The testing shows your daughter is producing antibodies to the gluten in her diet. (DGP IGG). THe tTg shows positive for some damage or inflammation. You know........your daughter is only 4.  She hasn't been on the planet or eating gluten that long. It can take years for enough damage to occur for it to be able to be found on biopsy.  I would say it is highly likely that this is Celiac, especially with her symptoms. But because the damage hasn't graduated to bad enough yet, they won't diagnose her. I think you need to do what others have said and get all copies of testing and find someone else who will take a look and give a diagnosis, especially if they have you do a dietary trial and her symptoms go away.  That might be the only recourse if you want faster proof. I know I would want faster.  I would not really be happy if I thought I had to keep feeding her something that was making her sick.  If you keep her on gluten long enough, the diarrhea will probably show up. BTW.........the criteria mentioned regarding diagnosis does not apply to kids.  I know it's silly and stupid but most leading Celiac specialists do not go by this criteria for kids.......adults only.  Keep that in mind because it might come up.  You could recognize it but they might not. Have you considered gene testing, to help bolster a diagnosis? As far as false positives go, it's the other way around. False negatives happen more frequently than many people think.  It's a recurring theme here.  With her symptoms, which is what I had, a bloated belly and tummy aches are telling.  Have they tested her for lactose intolerance?  That can cause similar symptoms, although it sure won't raise those 2 blood tests.  Keep looking for Celiac because there are many red flags here.
    • This 4 out of 5 criteria does not apply to children. I was never given a reason why, but it isn't.     That said, you may try to get a second opinion from another GI who may be willing to give her a firm dx.  We were in your boat 6 years ago and while I'm sure I'll get slammed for it, I wish we had kept gluten in our kiddos diet till he scoped positive for a variety of reasons.  Again, even family is different and you have to find what is best for you!
    • Mnoosh, I had swollen lymph nodes prior to celiac dx and for a while after going gluten free. My neck as well as groin. The groin ones were the worst. Guess what? All gone! It's hard to recall a time line & consider that everyone is different but I think mine completely resolved within a year.  You've been given great information. Just breathe and then again, breathe. You're going to be fine. 
    • It is the only thing you have eaten, so it can't be anything else?  I eat it with no issues so I am not sure how you can be certain that is the problem.  All I am saying is that its sort of "your word against mine and the company's word".  
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