Gluten-Free in the Dining Hall

Gluten-Free in the Dining Hall

One out of every 133 individuals will be diagnosed with celiac disease in their lifetime.  Over the past few years, gluten-free products have become more mainstream, but college students still face a difficult challenge navigating the dining hall gluten-free.  Luckily, many schools are becoming more aware of GF diets and responding to students’ needs.  If you have celiac or follow a gluten-free diet, here are some resources you should check out when looking at schools.

  • Protocol: Make sure you understand how the university supports students with celiac.  At some schools, like Ithaca, you can order a gluten-free meal ahead of time.  Other schools, like Stanford, have a separate GF kitchen with GF products, condiments, and appliances.  Most schools have disclaimers on their websites about cross-contamination with gluten.  Be aware of the procedures they take to avoid cross-contamination and if you have any questions about an item just ask.
  • Dining guide: Some schools have done their research and developed a guide for students with celiac.  Tufts has a pretty comprehensive guide to successfully navigate the dining halls on a GF diet.   Penn State University Park also has a guide to eating gluten-free in the dining halls and buys quality products like Bob’s Red Mill flours and Udi’s breads.
  • Student Health Resources: Most schools recommend that you meet with a registered dietitian to make sure you are finding enough options to suit your needs.  Take advantage of this option.  It doesn’t hurt to be able to talk to someone and have some support at whatever school you end up at.

I don’t have celiac but in my experiences following a GF diet due to Crohn’s and other health problems, I have found that Udi’s products are some of the best.  They have bread, bagels, muffins, cookies, granola, and other great products that taste as good as the real thing.  You can find these items and more at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, your neighborhood co-op, or some grocery stores.

Have any other tips for staying gluten-free in college? Let us know in the comment box below!