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  • May 12, 2017

Navigating the Gluten-Free Diet in College

Spring is in the air!

By: Rebecca Toutant, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, cPT.

For some high school students, that might mean college campus tours. If you’re like me, you didn’t think about the details of college until you unpacked your dorm room and questioned, “Well, now what?” However, if you’re going to college with celiac disease, take time before you enroll to make sure that gluten-free diet accommodations match the life you want to live.

Where will I eat on campus? Most students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan. The most frequent complaints I hear from students are issues around cross contamination, lack of spontaneous meal choices and boredom with gluten-free options. Most colleges offer accommodations, but consider how you like to eat. Do you have to call ahead to order food? Do they have a separate kitchenette for people with food allergies? How much does the menu change?

Where will I eat off campus? The dining hall won’t fit all of your food needs. There will likely be snacks between meals, breakfast in the dorms, or late night pizza parties. If you’re going to school in a smaller town, there may be limited restaurant options with shorter hours. What grocery stores are nearby and what do they offer? Are there a variety of local restaurants that offer gluten free options? Are there late night options so you can enjoy food while everyone else is having 2 a.m. pizza?

Who can I talk to if I have problems? You may not feel well resulting in missed classes. Professionals can help you advocate for your needs and identify solutions. Outline contacts you feel comfortable turning to if things aren’t working out. If your usual health team is far away, are there local professionals who can help? Also, explaining celiac disease to people can bum you out. Are there local or college support groups you can connect with to get to know the local gluten free options?

Going to college with celiac disease can be challenging, but remember, you’re not alone! For more information about navigating a gluten free-diet on college campuses, click here.

This articles provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

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