College Decisions: A Guide To The Gluten Free Lifestyle [One Month Challenge]
June 16, 2012 5:00 pm Posted in Body, College, Food, Homepage Exclusive Brooke - Washington University in St. Louis g+ page
So, applying to college with Celiac disease can be scary! I know when I applied, I had to call different schools’ dining services and see if they can accommodate a gluten free diet. When my sister Sammy applied two years before me (she just graduated from Michigan, GO BLUE!), a lot of schools actually said they could NOT accommodate her. Poor, poor Sammy. But two years later when Celiac became all the rave, almost all the schools were willing to accommodate me!
Yes, some were better than others, but overall most were familiar and able to feed me. Here’s a list of a few questions you should ask when applying to a school:
1. Can you accommodate a gluten free diet?
2. Are there any other kids with Celiac Disease?
3. Do you provide gluten free food regularly?
4. Will my food be made separately?
5. What kind of options can you make me?
If they only say grilled chicken, don’t run so fast. That was the answer I got at WashU originally, and then I convinced them that gluten free pasta is totally doable, and now they have one of the most extensive gluten free programs EVER. Smaller schools will most likely be willing to work with you. At some bigger schools, you might not get the same attention, but you have to make sure to find the right person with the hook-up. WashU is super duper fabulous at gluten free food. They make me just about anything I want! Grilled chicken with artichoke hearts and white wine sauce, any type of quesadilla; they even made me GF FRENCH FRIES!!!
Don’t be jealous – you can develop a program like this at YOUR school, too! I started by meeting the school nutritionist who introduced me to all people dining, including head chefs at every dining hall, dining hall managers, and even the head of all dining at WashU. We started setting up meetings to discuss potential GF meals they could make. We started small with grilled chicken, hamburgers, and gluten free pasta. Then we moved on to sandwiches with gluten free bread. Then we moved on to all things gluten free you could think of. Not only pasta, but mac and cheese. Not only sandwiches, but grilled cheese. Not only corn tortilla shells, but delicious quesadillas. I had to be patient, but as time went on, and I moved into my second year, they had the gluten free thing down. They even started suggesting some ideas – stir fry with gluten free sauces, gluten free cookies, breads, cakes, muffins, and cereals in the campus market. Gluten free pre-packs all over campus. I suggested gluten free products, and they got them. An endless supply of Udi’s chocolate chip cookes two feet from my dorm? That’s the dream.
The best advice I can give to any of you is ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. Learn to speak up! Having Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance should NEVER hinder you from anything, especially applying to the right college or eating like a normal human in your dining hall. Speak out. Contact someone at your school and ask for more options. Request certain products. Tell them if your food is contaminated. Do not slip through the cracks. I created the gluten free program at WashU. You can too!
More to come next week. Maybe even some ways to party with everyone without the gluten-filled beer gut…
Peace, Love, Gluten Free,