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Gluten Free In College

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Was recently diagnosed and am in my second year of college... anyone have any tips?

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Do you live on campus and/or rely on the school dining hall as your primary source of food? If so, you'll want to speak with someone of authority about food that is or can be made safe for your to eat. I had a lot of trouble with this and eventually moved off campus because I had a VERY limited selection of safe food, and what was "safe" sometimes made me sick anyway.

My school had a small cabinet and freezer with gluten-free bread, waffles and muffins, and some cereals and occasionally cookies. While I was grateful for the effort, they 1) had no idea how to choose GOOD bread, cereal, etc., 2) didn't understand that I couldn't use the gluteny toaster, sandwich press, and other things, and 3) rarely kept the thing stocked past the first few weeks of the semester anyway, which was frustrating.

Find out what kind of accommodations your school can make for a student with special dietary needs.

Here are things I had to consider:

-Even when I could get gluten-free bread, I couldn't have sandwiches made at the sandwich counter because there was absolutely no way to prevent contamination with the gloves, countertops, toppings, press, and everything. So if I wanted a sandwich, I had to make it from the salad bar and just thaw the bread in the microwave (ew).

-My school's dining service was completely awful at accurately labeling the food with ingredients. Half the time the labels never got put up, and half the time that they were, they were not the correct dish or the ingredients weren't complete.

-I couldn't have toast for breakfast because of the toaster situation.

-I always ran the risk of being contaminated by a serving spoon or something similar that hadn't been switched out.

-Certain things like french fries were not safe because they were fried in the same oil as breaded chicken and things like that.

-Even gluten-free cereal (like Chex) were not safe because I didn't know what other cereal had been in the dispenser before.

-The dining staff may or may not have any clue about keeping you safe. Mine didn't...hence the fact that I ended up moving off campus.

-You're going to have to become best friends with the floor manager(s). They will be able to tell you what the ingredients of something are and how it's made so you can determine if they're safe. I had one manager who was awesome, but they just weren't able to feed me.

Good luck.

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Definitely talk to someone in charge of campus dining. I work on a college campus and mine is quite good at meeting special dietary needs. On our campus there are 3 dining halls and they post their menus online weekly. Each hall's menus clearly identify gluten-free foods and there's always one or more gluten-free options at each hall at each meal time. The staff is well educated about changing gloves, using designated bread knives, serving utensils, etc. I'll also just ask servers to change gloves or use a new utensil if I don't think they are doing it correctly. I never get flack for that.

I'm sure it's very hit and miss at different campuses, but start with dining services.

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