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Gluten-free? Tips for Successful Eating in Shared Housing

Celiac.com 07/09/2012 - These handy tips will help you to better navigate the challenges of gluten-free living in both dorm rooms and shared housing. Having the right tools, and adopting some wise practices will help you eat gluten-free week-in and week-out, without breaking your bank account, or risking gluten exposure.

Photo: CC--Stu_SpivackHaving a few tools can help your efforts come together much more easily, and keep your eating consistent over the semester.

Helpful tools:

  • Rice Cooker
  • Small Crock Pot
  • Microwave
  • Blender
  • Fridge/freezer (even a miniature one will come in handy)
  • Resealable freezer bags
  • Sharpie permanent marker

Shop wisely by making lists
What's the old saying? Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance? Nowhere is this more true than with a gluten-free diet. Planning your meals in advance can save you time, money, stress, and, of yes, the pain of an adverse reaction to gluten. This practice starts with shopping, and shopping starts with planning.

Make lists and use them. Check out Asian, Mexican, and other ethnic markets in your area. They often have good, gluten-free food at reasonable prices.

Cook your food in advance
You can make the most of your smart shopping practices by planning and preparing your meals in advance.

Consider spending one day each week, or at least a good block of time, cooking and prepping food. Just a few hours of gluten-free cooking can prepare you to sail smoothly through the week ahead. Use all the tools at your disposal. Use your crockpot, use your rice cooker, your freezer bags, and your markers.

Keep your own shelf and label your foods
Package and label the food you make, then store it in your fridge or freezer. By packaging and labeling food, your housemates are less likely to "accidentally" eat it. If they do, you'll likely be on top of the situation.

Keep gluten-free dry goods on hand
Having a drawer full of gluten-free food that does not require a fridge or freezer is also helpful. Good items to have include microwaveable rice, gluten-free pretzels, crackers, chips tuna fish, fruit snacks, and beef jerky.

Gluten-free Condiments
Keep a collection of spices and sauces to help keep your snacks from getting boring. Good things to keep on hand include honey, gluten-free tamari, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce.

Cover the Basics
Make sure you keep simple items that are rich in protein and carbohydrates on hand, so that you won’t go hungry and will always have gluten-free food available.

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Avoid the Dining Hall
Unless your dining hall is one of the more progressive campus dining halls that offer a variety of good, reliable gluten-free foods, you should avoid it.

Some good foods to prepare in advance or keep on hand include:
Fried rice - Frying rice is a good way to use leftover food, and it's easy to pack and take with you to campus. Try it with lots of veggies, meat, eggs, and any other items that seem tasty.

Grilled or roasted chicken, or other meats cut into small slices - These are great items to add to your fried rice, or to your pasta sauce.

Stews, soups or casseroles - Stews, soups and casseroles freeze easily and age well. They can be prepackaged and frozen ahead of time. They can be easily thawed in the bag by placing them in the microwave, or in lukewarm water.

Sauces - Making sauces in advance and freezing them can cut your food prep time during the week. They can give you plenty of room for adjustment and broaden your options. Ideas include: Pasta sauce, pizza sauce, sweet and sour sauce, teriyaki sauce,

Pizza - Use your favorite gluten-free pizza crust to make gluten-free pizza. Then place it in individual bags, label and freeze. If you have hungry roommates with boundary issues, consider numbering the bags to keep track of them.

French toast - Making French toast with your favorite gluten-free bread is a great way to have a quick, reliable breakfast ready to go.

Fruit - cutting up fruit and putting it in bags for the week ahead is a great way to be ready to make quick breakfast smoothies, or to have a great fruit salad ready to go.

Yogurt and kefir are also good to have on hand. They are excellent for making fruit smoothies, or for giving you much needed protein and fat with that fruit smoothie.

Dessert items - Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cakes are a great way to enjoy dessert when you want it without being forced to choose from the often dismal gluten-free selection at the local coffee shop, or the over-priced frozen section of your local grocery store.

Lastly, compile a list of reliable local eateries where you can get good, safe gluten-free food when you are in a pinch, or need to dine on the spur of the moment.

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2 Responses:

 
Ginger
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said this on
17 Jul 2012 9:03:44 AM PDT
Love this info, helpful.

 
raewyn
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said this on
22 Jul 2012 1:18:19 AM PDT
This was very useful.




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Dang! If I lived that close to Chicago, I would definitely go to the University of Chicago's celiac center even just to hang out with some celiacs or celiac-savvy folk! (Maybe visit Aunt Mary too....) Consider a second opinion. Some people spend more on their Friday night bar tab instead of paying for a second opinion (cash) if they went out-of-network (insurance). Your current GI must suspect something (e.g. parasite). Maybe he is hoping it will resolve on its own (frankly sometime this approach works), but that side pain for over a year is not normal. Keep advocating. ?

Cycling Lady, LMAO at IBeStumped! So true. Yes, he is trying the band aid approach it seems. That's probably the most frustrating thing of all. So yesterday I get a call back from his office and they say to stop taking the Viberzi and switch back to Imodium! I reminded them that Imodium didn't work, I had already used it 8 days with no changes. His assistant informed me that that is all he can recommend at this time until he sees me at my next appointment which is 5/24! I live near Chicago and I am about to make an appointment to go to the University of Chicago hospital which is the top celiac research hospital in the country. Hopefully they can give me better answers.

7Hi jen and welcome No-one can diagnose remotely via nterwe posts but if there was such a game as celiac / gluten sensitive bingo, I would be calling 'House!' having read your account above... Lots of things fit the pattern as I'm sure your lurking has revealed. It's a tricky condition to diagnose however so you may have a little wait before you join the coolest club in town and get your funky celiac membership card For now it's really important that you stay on gluten. Keep eating it as accurate testing requires it. Ask your doctor to check the boxes for celiac testing alongside your liver blood tests. There should be enough in your history to get this without hassle but if they're reluctant INSIST and don't be afraid to assert your reasonable suspicion and wish to clarify and exclude. A good liver specialis will be aware of the possible links so you should be ok. If not gt second opinion. Ask for a full celiac panel as there are variety of tests. Find further info here There's a lot to take in, but be positive, I think you are on the right track and if so, you could soon be feeling better than you ever thought possible!

Hello, I am in a job that I travel every 3rd week...It gets challenging becuase many times I am doing audits of warehouses and they dont even have a cafeteria. I usually bring gluten-free protein bars as a back up if I have to miss a meal and then eat when I get back to the hotel. Just a suggestion because they certainly fill me up....Have a safe trip...Kelly

Hello all, I'm a new member here but have lurked for a while. I'm looking for some advice regarding my medical history, possible symptoms of celiac and next steps. General info: female, low level smoker, drink alcohol, aged 32. I started having bad gastro issues when I was around 17. Since then I've consistently suffered from chronic diarrhoea, frequent discomfort in the tummy area, feelings of dehydration despite drinking at least eight glasses a day and frequent fatigue for no real reason. In 2008/9 I visited the doctor as my diarrhoea was having an effect on my studies at the time. The doctor tested me for allergies; eggs, fish, gluten and lactose and did a "standard" blood test. Everything came back fine except my liver results, which were elevated to double (I did not the see the results for myself so can't say which enzymes etc). I was told to drink less and take Imodium. The doctor implied that perhaps I was stressed and / or anxious and, still being young plus a student who regularly went out drinking, I accepted this advice and carried on with my life. I would here add that I am not an unusually stressed person - in fact, learning to deal with my unpredictable bowels has forced me to be quite a laid-back person! Fast forward to 2016. I had been living with my partner for two years by this point who had noticed my bowel habits and informed me that this was definitely not normal. He encouraged me to try out a gluten free diet since I was apprehensive about visiting a doctor only to be fobbed off with Imodium again. I did the diet as strictly as a newbie can for around two months before we set off travelling. During the diet I noticed that after a couple of weeks of extreme tiredness I felt quite a lot better - I kept a food journal at the time which showed that I almost immediately had diarrhoea once after eating an ice-cream, i felt bloated and unwell after an attempt to make oat muffins (maybe i didn't cook them very well though!) and I felt bloated and had diarrhoea after eating some fish fried in flour (We made a mistake in ordering them but I didn't want to complain). My partner also reported that my mood swings (which I admit can be a little unpredictable) were much better. Once we started travelling I gave up and ate what I was given as we were staying with friends etc much of the time. Toward the end of our trip I started to feel extremely tired, to the point of having to stay in for "rest" days, and my guts were very unhappy. I chalked it up to irregular eating patterns, too many beers and late nights in general. During the trip I also had an extreme hangover after drinking wheat beer. And, while of course I accept that any overindulgence can make you ill, I really felt that that level of hangover was quite out of the ordinary. Finally, I developed a strange lump under my armpit during this period. Now back at home, I decided to go to the doc and check out the odd lump under my armpit. The doctor was pretty confident that it was nothing to worry about cancer-wise but she ordered a battery of blood tests just to be sure. The lump is fine (good news) but the results showed elevated GGT, high-ish ALT and normal AST liver enzymes plus signs of dehydration in red bloods / higher (but not concerning) levels of white bloods. I'm scheduled to go back for another blood test to double-check liver function and discuss results - if it is again high she will send me for a ultrasound. Does this history chime with anyone here? I know that the correct course in basic health terms is to stop drinking for some time (easily done) and stop smoking forever (easy to say...) but I cannot help but think that something else is going on here. I will discuss this with my doctor and make clear that my bowel issues have not been resolved and that the initial IBS diagnosis wasn't based on any thorough testing so to speak. In the meantime - does anyone have any advice for me in times of avenues to research or experience of similar symptoms? Gluten remains in my diet but in all other respects it could be regarded as very healthy, I think anyway... (pescatarian, plenty of fruit and veg, little to no sugar on a daily basis, not much dairy to speak of...) Thanks in advance and sorry for bending everyone's' ear about this... I guess it's just taken a long time for me to admit I might be sick and I need some help. Jen