Moving away for college was always something I had wanted to do, yet when I expressed this desire to any of my friends or family they always replied with the same question- how are you going to manage living away from home and being a coeliac? And yes, it was tough at first, but I’m managing and this is why I can now offer you my top three tips for a healthy and happy gluten-free college experience.
- Buying Food
Personally, I found the first time I went grocery shopping alone quite daunting. Trying to figure out whether certain foods are gluten free can be quite challenging so, I learnt one simple trick to remember all the possible ingredients which contain gluten- B.R.O.W.S.
This simple anagram has saved me from forgetting the less known gluten free containing ingredients and is essential information for gluten-free shopping.
- Preparing Food
I didn’t even consider the risks of cross-contamination when I first moved away from home. At home, my parents made sure areas where I prepared my food was perfectly clean. In my first few weeks of college, I realised that my stomach was aching a lot and I was having mini-reactions to gluten, yet I was eating all gluten free- or so I thought.
Pots, pans, a toaster, utensils and even something as simple as a colander can be hard to clean, so as you can imagine if food that isn’t gluten free goes into them, gluten residue may not always come out. Then when you use your own gluten free food it may pick up these traces and that’s how cross contamination happens. So, be smart and be safe by buying your own cooking utensils. It may be costly at first, but I promise you if you keep these utensils gluten free and stored separately you will save yourself from a lot of hassle and pain in the future.
- Eating Out
As both a coeliac and a student, I find eating out a novelty. Being a girl on a budget while also having a restricted diet isn’t fun. I struggle finding somewhere which caters to both of my needs. On campus my favourite place for a gluten free sandwich is the Sports Bar beside the UL Arena. Just outside of campus, my favourite place to eat would be Delish Café near Plassey Student Village. All restaurants aside, my top tip for eating out is make sure that not only the food you are eating but the environment in which it is prepared is also gluten free. It won’t hurt anyone to ask but it may hurt you if you don’t.