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Unverified Celiac - A Few Questions?

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Hi, I'm an 18 year old female, and I'm currently waiting to find out if I have Celiac disease. My doctor ran a test, and he said it was inconclusive. Because he was hesitant to perform a biopsy, he suggested I go completely gluten-free for a few months and see how I felt. I have been gluten-free for 11 days now, and the change was immediate.

Before, I was always tired - I'd get nearly halfway through the day (high school senior) and just want to cry because I was so exhausted that I could not even function. I always felt sick - abdominal pain, digestive problems, constipation, nausea, headaches, "spaciness" that I saw someone else mention. Plus, my joints/muscles hurt all the time. And weight gain, even though I run between 17-23 miles a week and eat extremely healthily. From the very first gluten free meal, I've had so much energy and I don't feel sick, so I'm fairly certain that it's going to be Celiac.

So, I had a few questions. I'm moving out for college in just a few months, and this lifestyle is going to be still new to me. My family is very supportive and understanding about my new gluten-free life, but my friends at school are not always so understanding. Often, if we have goodies at school or something, I'm just expected to either eat it. They don't seem to understand that if this is truly Celiac, then I can't just eat birthday goodies that they bring.

My questions then are: at a college that's going to be 2.5 hours away from home - and from the understanding and help that my family gives - how will I make my new peers, friends, professors, etc. understand exactly what it means if my friends who have watched me go through all I have can't get it? How can I make them really understand that it isn't just a diet choice, but a medical necessity? I thought about getting one of those medic alert bracelets - it can only help in serious situations, and some people have liked that people take them more seriously.

Also, any tips on living gluten-free on a college budget?

Thanks everyone! I appreciate any answers!

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Good luck with college. I hope you find truly understanding friends.

I suggest you tell everyone that you have a severe allergy to wheat, barley and ryethat is life threatening.

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It will likely be easier for the new people you meet at university to accept your gluten free diet than the friends you have been around since before your gluten free days. Though it isn't an accurate statement you can just tell them that you have a severe allergy to gluten. You can share the long, more accurate story with those who become good friends and who you find yourself spending the most time with.

Gluten free can be done on a budget especially if your body tolerates foods that are processed in factories where wheat is also processed. Rice flakes and corn flakes cereal (READ the labels to be sure there isn't gluten filler in them), oatmeal, polenta or corn grits and eggs are great for breakfast. Peanut butter on celery, tuna salad without the bread and cheese for lunch or snacks. Rice, beans (all kinds), ground meat and frozen veggies for dinner. Eggs are cheap and can be eaten any time of the day. I'm just mentioning cheap foods and assuming that you will have at least a refrigerator and maybe a full kitchen where ever you live. Making your own meals is always cheaper than eating out. If you will be in a dorm you may want to call and find out if they have gluten free choices at every meal. You could also google (or ask someone currently at the school) the restaurants/fast food joints near there where you will most likely go with friends and check out their menus and websites to see what gluten free options they serve. You'll have it all figured out within a month of starting classes.

Good luck!

Hi, I'm an 18 year old female, and I'm currently waiting to find out if I have Celiac disease. My doctor ran a test, and he said it was inconclusive. Because he was hesitant to perform a biopsy, he suggested I go completely gluten-free for a few months and see how I felt. I have been gluten-free for 11 days now, and the change was immediate.

Before, I was always tired - I'd get nearly halfway through the day (high school senior) and just want to cry because I was so exhausted that I could not even function. I always felt sick - abdominal pain, digestive problems, constipation, nausea, headaches, "spaciness" that I saw someone else mention. Plus, my joints/muscles hurt all the time. And weight gain, even though I run between 17-23 miles a week and eat extremely healthily. From the very first gluten free meal, I've had so much energy and I don't feel sick, so I'm fairly certain that it's going to be Celiac.

So, I had a few questions. I'm moving out for college in just a few months, and this lifestyle is going to be still new to me. My family is very supportive and understanding about my new gluten-free life, but my friends at school are not always so understanding. Often, if we have goodies at school or something, I'm just expected to either eat it. They don't seem to understand that if this is truly Celiac, then I can't just eat birthday goodies that they bring.

My questions then are: at a college that's going to be 2.5 hours away from home - and from the understanding and help that my family gives - how will I make my new peers, friends, professors, etc. understand exactly what it means if my friends who have watched me go through all I have can't get it? How can I make them really understand that it isn't just a diet choice, but a medical necessity? I thought about getting one of those medic alert bracelets - it can only help in serious situations, and some people have liked that people take them more seriously.

Also, any tips on living gluten-free on a college budget?

Thanks everyone! I appreciate any answers!

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My daughter went off to college three years ago after having been diagnosed with celiacs in high school. It was a daunting experience for all of us. This situation was further complicated by the fact that she is an athlete and was required to live in a dorm with minimal kitchen facilities her freshman year. As you very rightly pointed out, not many campuses have accommodations for such things. The first thing we did was contact the university catering suppliers to find out if they could stock gluten free products in the small shop on campus near her dorm. They were very accommodating and made sure that gluten free bread, cereal, and a few other staples were always on-hand for her convenience. Even though there was a lot of driving involved at first, we also cooked meals at home and put them in the freezer/refrigerator for her in the dorm room. A microwave took care of the reheating issue. By the end of the year, most of her roommates were also eating gluten free part of the time because they loved having a home cooked meal occasionally! Your friends will be great. One of my daughter's friends recently gave up gluten for Lent in order to have a better understanding of how difficult it can be to live with this disease.

One more piece of advice.... the stress of adjusting to your new life can complicate your body's ability to deal with your celiacs even if you are gluten free. Make sure you have a great college experience, but also allow enough time for sleep, etc. My daughter suffered from anemia on a couple of occasions.

Good luck.

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My daughter went off to college three years ago after having been diagnosed with celiacs in high school. It was a daunting experience for all of us. This situation was further complicated by the fact that she is an athlete and was required to live in a dorm with minimal kitchen facilities her freshman year. As you very rightly pointed out, not many campuses have accommodations for such things. The first thing we did was contact the university catering suppliers to find out if they could stock gluten free products in the small shop on campus near her dorm. They were very accommodating and made sure that gluten free bread, cereal, and a few other staples were always on-hand for her convenience. Even though there was a lot of driving involved at first, we also cooked meals at home and put them in the freezer/refrigerator for her in the dorm room. A microwave took care of the reheating issue. By the end of the year, most of her roommates were also eating gluten free part of the time because they loved having a home cooked meal occasionally! Your friends will be great. One of my daughter's friends recently gave up gluten for Lent in order to have a better understanding of how difficult it can be to live with this disease.

One more piece of advice.... the stress of adjusting to your new life can complicate your body's ability to deal with your celiacs even if you are gluten free. Make sure you have a great college experience, but also allow enough time for sleep, etc. My daughter suffered from anemia on a couple of occasions.

Good luck.

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My daughter is going to be a freshamn at Wake Forest next fall. We've been up to meet the dietician and were completely blown away at all they offer for her-gluten-free breads, cookies baked daily, Thai food, sushi, omelet station, etc.-- all with cooks trained to understand gluten-free diets. I recommend that you meet with the college's dietician and explain your needs. I'll bet they are very knowledgeable and prepared to make your experience a good one. Knowing ahead of time what they are willing to accommodate will give you some peace of mind now.

Good luck!!

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