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Gluten-Free as a College Student

When my daughter took off to college, we were all excited. However, being gluten-free added some challenges to the new student that we needed to address before school started, while and during the school year.

The move out of your safe home kitchen and into the dining hall or into your dorm room can bring many health challenges if you do not take the right steps to support yourself. Do they have enough options for you? Can you guarantee that the French fries are not cooked in the same oil as the onion rings? Will your otherwise great roommate leave bagel crumbs all over the counter every morning? It’s not as easy as contacting the campus office requesting gluten-free meals. You must take full commitment towards your health and make sure you expose yourself to the minimum amount of the gliadin peptide.

It’s not going to be easy, but with the right attitude and the right steps, you will be able to make it the same way my daughter did.

There are many things to consider, but the good news is that many universities have gluten-free options. Here are some tips to help you avoid gluten and find gluten-free alternatives in the first few semesters on campus.

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  • A Small Refrigerator for Your Room

One of the first things we did was buy a small and lightweight refrigerator for less than $100. It was easy enough to move it from the car to her room with a dolly that the university supplied on moving day. That was good enough to store frozen meals, nut milks, hummus, and vegetables to keep her safe and satisfied.

  • Creating More Storage in Your Room

Moving the bed up allows you to create a larger space to keep dry foods safe. You can keep your food in a tall food storage container. Perfect for food like gluten-free crackers, pretzels, chips, cans, nuts, and nut butters can be safely stored with no worries. When you open any product, make sure you are closing it well enough before returning it into the stored container to keep its freshness.

  • Read Labels

Being on campus and taking full responsibility for your own health requires some additional education. Reading labels and  avoiding hidden substances will keep you healthy. The fact is, food packaging stating words like “Gluten Free” does not necessarily mean that the product is completely clean from gluten.

Avoid the following ingredients to keep you safe:

  • Malt vinegar
  • Matzo meal
  • Oat
  • Rye
  • Spelt (varieties of wheat)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat starch
  • Barley
  • Bran Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Durum (varieties of wheat)
  • Einkorn (varieties of wheat)
  • Emmer (varieties of wheat)
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham (whole-wheat)
  • Kamut (varieties of wheat)
  • Malt
  • Triticale (hybrid grains)
  • Flours like:
    • Enriched flour with added vitamins and minerals
    • Farina, milled wheat usually used in hot cereals
    • Graham flour, a course whole-wheat flour
    • Self-rising flour, also called phosphate flour
    • Semolina, the part of milled wheat used in pasta and couscous

It seems a lot, but once you get it and follow it. You won’t have any troubles.

  • Beer Is NOT Gluten Free

Not sure if many are even aware of the fact that most beers are made with wheat and malted barley. Both grains contain gluten.True, some of the products will be labeled gluten free and sound safe. Make sure you check the ingredients beforehand.

Sorghum is one of those “safe” grains for celiac individuals due to its relationship to maize, replacing barley in beer. Though, keep in mind, there are not enough studies showing clear evidence that it is a safe grain for gluten intolerance individuals, and you could react.

Other ingredients you want to AVOID in alcoholic beverages are rye and triticale. As well as beverages that say: “processed”, “treated” or “crafted” – to remove gluten may have trace amounts of gluten that can create an immune response.

My best professional advice – keep it out of your diet.

Not worth any immune response, producing antibodies, destruction of the villi in the small intestine, which results in malabsorption of nutrients and higher risks for autoimmune diseases. 

  • Potential Gluten Hazard

Many common foods like cereals, French fries, imitation meat, seafoods, hot dogs, salad dressing, gravies, sauces (most will have soy in it), chips, tortilla, soups may have carry gluten as well.

I am sure no chef will sprinkle gluten on any gluten free meal. However, so many foods are processed foods and you may find yourself being exposed to it. The above list is to make sure you are aware of the fact that you can be indirectly exposed to this gluten peptide in this food list.

So, if you choose to have a salad make sure that you remember to also check the salad dressing ingredients.

  • Feel Confidant To Share Your Dietary Needs

Being confident and sharing your dietary needs with your roommate and friends can be super helpful. 

You don’t have to go into too many details right away, but slowly bring up a few points. 

You will find out how many more students on campus are facing the same challenges keeping their health balance. Finding or creating a support group maybe can help as well, not just for you but also for future students on campus. Real change happens one step at a time.

Odds are your roommate has already heard about the diet. Now you can teach him or her why it’s a need, not a fad!

  • In some cases it may be worth it to talk to an on campus food service director or nutritionist.

Talk to a catering manager before coming to campus in the new semester, preferably before making the final decision on which school to attend. While university websites often don’t clarify the gluten-free options available in the dining room, some universities have adopted surprisingly good gluten-free protocols. While most other colleges and campuses barely have any gluten-free options. Either way, you don’t want to be surprised, your first week of classes. Ask about cooking your own food, what are the daily gluten-free options, finding out if menu items including ingredients are pre-booked, and whether you can order specially cooked gluten-free dishes.

Don’t hesitate to CONTACT me to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation to start  a personalized support.


Many foods, such as vegetable sticks and yogurt, contain a hidden amount of gluten. However, many people can somehow switch to a gluten-free lifestyle. It’s certainly difficult, but it’s not impossible. Students who focus their food intake on meat, fruits and vegetables can cope well with life with celiac disease on campus.

 A simple rule of thumb is as follows: Heavy-processed and packaged foods often contain gluten while fresh, minimally processed foods that are essential for a healthy diet often do not contain gluten. There are many gluten-free alternatives available for people with celiac disease. This includes gluten-free bread and oats labeled gluten-free. The important thing is to read and understand the nutritional facts label and find the source of gluten and find gluten-free foods. Would you like to share your meal plan and get a personalized breakdown of a gluten-free diet plan for you? CONTACT me for a FREE consultation to help you with this.

Take The Next Step and Schedule Today

Are you concerned about the challenges of being a gluten-free college student? You could take charge of your health today with a FREE 20-minute phone consultation. We will identify the key areas that need support and give necessary support to show what needs to be done uniquely for your case. Please CONTACT me to schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation if you or your loved ones need personalized support on gluten-free diet consumption in college. Chen Ben Asher will give you her best care recommendations and give recommendations based on what’s happening inside your body on a cellular level, in a bid to achieve optimum results. Be rest assured that no stone will be left unturned as we look for the root cause!

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