Monday, August 15, 2011

Gluten-Free College Life

I can't believe it, in exactly two weeks I will be starting my senior year! I can't imagine what is in store for this year. Every year has been full of one unexpected after the next. When I dreamed about college, no where in a million years did I think a gluten, and dairy-free diet would be such a large part of the experience. I'm going to be honest, being GF and DF at college is not the easiest thing in the world, however, it is manageable!! 

The start of the semester is right around the corner. Whether you are a GF veteran heading off to school for the first time or a newbie to the diet and heading back to school, here are some tips to make this transition easier for you. 

1. Get your self a Mini Refrigerator/ Freezer! This was seriously one of the best investments that I made. This is my own personal refrigerator that is stocked with all my favorites. 

2. STOCK UP!! Make sure you have all your favorite snacks on hand. Pack an assortment of goodies, this will help prevent food boredom, not to mention these snacks will come in handy during your late night study sessions. Some of my favs are GLOW cookies, Angie's Kettle Corn, SO Delicious yogurt with Udi's Granola, Nonuttin Granola bars, Chex GF Cereal and Fresh Fruit.

3. Always have a safe snack on hand. I like to keep a snack such as Betty Lou Fruit Bars, or Enjoy Life's Apple Carmel Bars on hand. There's nothing worst then being hungry, and not being able to find something quick to eat when you have back to back classes or are in the library. 

4.  Talk to your friends. My friends were great when I first got diagnosed. As time went on they too began to understand the do's and don'ts of the GF diet.  I love exposing them to GF food. They are more then happy to sample my foods and have loved many of the desserts  I have baked. 

Tip when meeting your roommate: When I meet people for the first time my gluten-intolerance usually comes up naturally in a conversation. Personally, I don't like to make our whole conversation about the diet, so I discuss the basics, answer a few questions (if any), and then I do my best to take the focus off me. 

5. If you are on a meal plan, get in contact with your dining hall ( I would recommend emailing them a week before you arrive on campus). My first semester of being GF there was  11 others with gluten intolerance. They have a cabinet stocked with Chex cereal, and have a dedicated toaster that is stored in a special spot. We now even have a dedicated freezer stocked with waffles, ice cream and brownies. They are very accommodating and open to our suggestions. 

6. If you cook for yourself, prepping is key! Though my school is very accommodating in terms of making meals for those that have food allergies or intolerances, since last semester I have chosen to cook for myself.  It's a lot to balance but it benefits my health when I cook for myself. I like to prepare things on the weekend, and make a meal plan for myself so I know what I will be making. Easy recipes are key! (Refer back to some of my "Summer Goal" Recipes) I look at the time I spend in the kitchen, as a time to escape the hustle and bustle of school. Turn on the music and remove yourself from the stress of the day. 

7. Don't let your gluten intolerance hold you back, but do what makes you comfortable. Unfortunately, these past three years have been full of many health problems, so there have been many opportunities that I have missed. However, I am determined to make this a year to remember! I don't want anything to hold me back, but I am also aware of what I am, and am not comfortable with, due to my dietary restrictions. 

8. Shhh, I broke the rules on this one. Bring your own toaster up. This is helpful on those mornings when you are in a rush or for a Sunday that you just don't feel like getting out of bed.

9.  Do your homework, research local restaurants that are accommodating and stores that carry GF foods. Even if you don't have a car, trust me when your parents come up, you will want to go grocery shopping. 

10. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy every moment of your college experience. Take it from a Senior, these 4 years fly by!! 

TIP for Parents: College kids love care packages!!

1 comment:

  1. Yes to all of this! And parents if you're looking for great gluten free care packages to send to your kids, I recommend this brand: