How to Stay Gluten Free as a College Freshman

Your first year of college is going to be a transitional period. The people you spend time with, the things you do, and how you view the world will change. Unfortunately, your eating habits may change too.

If you are gluten intolerant (gluten free) or if you have Celiac disease, you’ll have to put forth some extra effort to keep gluten out of your diet as you begin the newest stage in your academic career. Many of the food options that you’ll find at your dorm and at the restaurants near campus will contain gluten. Additionally, there will be a number of social factors that might cause you to stray away from your gluten-free lifestyle. If you’re wondering how you can keep gluten out of your diet while balancing all of the other stressors in your life as a college student, here are a few suggestions to help you out:

Skip the Meal Plan

Consider opting out of a meal plan, unless your college or university requires that you purchase one. You won’t be able to eat many of the meals offered to you on campus because of your gluten sensitivity. You can save up the money you would have spent on a meal plan and use it to explore your gluten-free food options off campus.

Cook for Yourself

The best way to keep gluten out of your diet is to cook for yourself. Unfortunately, cooking for yourself in your dorm room isn’t always practical. Before you sign up to live in a dorm, make sure the dormitory building has a kitchen and everything you need to prepare your own meals. You may also want to consider investing in a microwave and mini-fridge for your personal use.

Plan Ahead

If you’re fresh out of high school, you might not be used to cooking most of your meals, since your parents may have done the majority of the cooking at your house. So, you may need to adjust to both cooking your own meals and planning to

make those meals. If you want to cook healthy, gluten-free dishes for yourself, theMayo Clinic recommends that you create a weekly menu for yourself. Once you’ve picked out everything you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can make a list of all the ingredients you need and pick them up at the grocery store at the beginning of the week. It’s a good idea for you to try to stick to what you’ve planned to eat on your weekly menus, so you can avoid unintentionally eating gluten and so you can beat the “freshman 15” by maintaining healthy eating habits.

Establish a Game Plan for Parties

If you’re old enough to drink, you’ll inevitably find yourself in situations with alcohol. Make sure you avoid beer and other alcoholic drinks that contain gluten. If in doubt about whether or not something contains gluten, don’t drink it. Peer pressure can be a problem at college parties. Just remember that you don’t have to and shouldn’t drink anything that you think isn’t good for your body. Transitioning to college life and sticking with your gluten-free lifestyle isn’t necessarily a piece of gluten-free cake. However, it isn’t impossible either. Just consider the tips above, remember to make your health and well-being a priority, and have fun during this new chapter in your life!

Nadia Jones is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about food intolerances, nutrition education, and online college options. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]

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