You are worried that you are going to college soon and have to be on a gluten-free diet (maybe, out of compulsion or maybe, just by choice). Well, there is good news for you – colleges these days are becoming more and more sensitive towards this.
Here are a few measures which you can take for you to be gluten-free as well as healthy at the same time, while at college –
The first step to a gluten-free diet at college is to do an extensive research on this well in advance. You need to be aware of the brands offering gluten-free items. This will be more than just a ‘Good to Know’ information as you will be more aware of the kind of choices you make towards a healthy gluten-free living. It is a good idea to read the fine-print before purchasing something.
- The grains and starch sources which are accepted as gluten-free are corn, rice, potatoes, and tapioca (derived from cassava). Gram flour, which is derived from chickpeas, is gluten-free as well. However, one needs to be careful not to confuse this with Graham flour, which is not gluten-free.
- Amaranth, millet, montina, quinoa, lupin, sorghum, taro, teff, almond meal flour, coconut flour, chia seed, pea flour, arrowroot, cornstarch and yam are also considered suitable for a gluten-free diet.
- You have to be careful about choosing the oatmeal. Oatmeal is grown in the same field when wheat is out of season and hence, inadvertently, the gluten-free oatmeal gets contaminated. However, companies like Bakery on Main which has gluten-free oats and oatmeal products on offer. They come in a variety of flavors – like Strawberry Shortcake, Maple Multigrain Muffinare and Blueberry Scone are certified gluten-free.
- Dancing Deer Baking Co. has come out with gluten-free brownies. These are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. These are soft and consistent and are made by blending brown rice flour, sorghum and potato starch.
- Quinoa Esta! Bakery prepares baked goods using organic, gluten-free quinoa flour. Quinoa flour is a natural gluten-free grain. Their products include – Snickerdoodle Cookies, Cherry Chocolate Chunk cookies, Pecan Pine Nut Shortbread Cookies, Raspberry Shortbread Bar and Brownie Bon-Bons which are dusted with Cocoa.
Eat Healthy and Fresh
While the gluten-free choices are almost limitless these days, it all depends on the kind of choices you make. Well, it might not be a good idea to include a lot of processed food in your diet as you need to keep up-to the requirements of an intense college schedule and a balanced and healthy diet would help you with it. A healthy gluten-free diet would consist of unprocessed food, which is naturally gluten-free, for example, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, lean meat, granola and rice bread.
Be Known to the People Who Matter
You need to make the people in-charge (I mean the management team and dietician) of the dining hall to be aware of your situation. Let them know of your dietary needs and they would surely take action on this. Also, the dining room serving staffs are important. Help yourself by helping them to know you by your face. Talk to them, get friendly with them and am sure, they will comply by your dietary requirements.
If you have researched well, then you can also recommend the best gluten-free options available to the kitchen in-charge.
Also, an important thing you have to avoid is – contamination. Though, there will be separate cutting board and knife for making gluten-free food, however, if you want to have a sandwich, for instance, you have to ask the service staff to wash his/her hands, change gloves, get fresh meat and veggies for it from the refrigerator, and then use the separate cutting board and knife.
Wheat breadcrumbs fall into all the sandwich meats, toppings and condiments and would contaminate them. Hence, it is also essential to check if there is a separate gluten-free oven before toasting your sandwich.
You will have to prepare well in advance when you might have to prepare your own meal. There might be days when the college cafeteria is closed or maybe just for snacking.
It is a good idea to let the college administration know of your health condition so that you are given apartments which have a kitchenette and a space for a small refrigerator. This way, you have more control over what you eat in order to be healthy and safe.
Choosing the Menu
The easiest gluten-free meal in college is Breakfast. While you may not have an option for a bowl of cereal, however, there are plenty of choices. A large omelette by itself is a filling meal. Hash browns, bacon, eggs, yogurt, and fruit are the other breakfast choices you have. You can have Granola (consisting of honey, oats, nuts and puffed rice) with yoghurt as well. To be on the safer side, carry your own packets of butter or jam as the existing condiments might get contaminated when it comes in contact with food which is not glutten-free.
Also, you have the choice to make some quick sandwich wraps. Get hold of some gluten-free frozen cheese wraps, you can put some poultry or meat chunks and some fresh veggies try in them. In case you cannot have cheese, then you can supplement them with corn tortillas, which are gluten-free. Rice is an excellent gluten-free choice. You could stir-fry it with meat, veggies and salt seasoning.
You could look for eating-out joints around your college which have gluten-free options available. An alternate, but expensive gluten-free choice you have is – Sushi. You could have it with gluten-free soy sauce.
To conclude, while it isn’t an easy state to be in, however, being gluten-free in college it isn’t impossible as well. With a bit of research, advance preparation and effort from your side, you could help your college administration get sensitized towards your dietary requirements.