It seems to me that few people like to call undesired attention to themselves, especially with a new group of people. I’d guess that nearly all students with celiac just want a normal college experience. I know that my college-bound daughter, Grace, was hoping to downplay her celiac status as much as possible. In some ways, it worked for her; in others, not so much. Though her time in the dorms was curtailed due to Covid, Grace learned quite a bit during her freshman dorm experience. Some of it chronicled through text messages.
Plans change . . . even dinner plans.
Grace went to the dorm kitchen to make herself dinner and found a stove covered in flour. In this non-revelatory text, we see that not everyone cleans up after themselves. Not surprisingly when I saw this, I went into mama bear mode and wanted to find those little slobs and offer them a tongue lashing of epic proportions. Instead, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this is not mine to manage.
Have something quick and easy available – always.
In the event that things don’t pan out as planned, always have something at the ready to tide you over. Whether it is a frozen meal, some gluten-free ramen or an array of snack foods, having something quick and nutritious on hand is key to a gluten-free college kid’s survival.
Sharing is Caring!
Not a surprise – college students like to eat.
Having a supply of snacks and an open dorm room door makes it easy to connect with others on the floor. The dorm floor is a great place to gather for a snack and a study break. Grace learned that having the room with the food and open door results in texts of gratitude and a heartwarming new title! (see photo right)
Plan ahead, be prepared.
Plans change quickly when in a group. You thought you were going to the gf friendly Thai restaurant but end up at the greasy pizza place. If you’re going out and aren’t sure what kind of food will be served, bring a snack or eat something ahead of time, or better yet, both.
Eating before drinking.
Bonfires, fraternity parties, kick-backs, whatever, it is a rare day when there is anything safe for someone with a dietary concern to eat at college social gatherings. It is absolutely vital that you eat before partying. Alcohol on an empty stomach puts you on a fast track to drunksville and leaves you at greater risk for alcohol poisoning.
Safety versus Social.
One on-campus dining option was 100% safe from the top 8 food allergens. For my daughter Grace, whose only dietary issue is gluten, the absence of dairy, seafood, and nuts stripped meals of her favorite things. Another downside, few of her friends opted to eat at this location, so this option didn’t work for her. But it just may work great for you!
Stock up on favorites.
Supersized quantities of favorite things are worthwhile. Online markets have been helpful as well. We are fans of Thrive Market whose user-friendly website has a gluten-free filter for food, cleaning and beauty products. This has made stocking up incredibly easy to do.