Celiac University: Tips for Eating Gluten-Free on Campus

Living a gluten-free life is tough enough – no fluffy, flaky pastries, no thick pizza crusts, and definitely no sandwiches. But being gluten-free (or having any other dietary restrictions) on a university campus can be a whole new level of tough.

When all of your friends are hungry from studying at 1:00 am and want to go out for pizza or grab snacks from the market downstairs, you have to either head home early, or politely ask for a gluten-free option. Remember what I said about no thick pizza crusts? Gluten-free pizza crusts tend be thin and dough-y (ick), and after the first time your friends are subjected to what tastes like an undercooked piece of cardboard you just might not be invited to the next study party.

So how do you eat gluten-free on your new university campus and still have a great time?

Stock up your dorm

Most university campuses don’t offer gluten-free options (yet!), and those that do don’t have much to boast about, so go to your local market or grocery store and see if it has a gluten-free section. If it does, this is where you stock up. Also, hit the fresh fruits and veggies section! Things that naturally don’t contain gluten are always a safe bet, and can also be a healthy choice. Once your dorm is stocked, make sure your backpack is, too. It’s not going to be as easy for you to grab food on the go as it is for your classmates, so be prepared. It’s always better to have a snack on you than to be hungry and unable to find anything gluten-free to eat.

Know your territory

Get familiar with the restaurants in your area that offer gluten-free options. Again, when everyone else will have the option of hitting the cafeteria, you won’t. Because gluten-free food can be a little more expensive, get familiar with the places that offer gluten-free food, and pick a few favorites. You can search for restaurants with options here.

Lay down the law (sort of)

If you leave to hit the books with some friends and you know there’s the possibility of eating afterward, bring something with you. This can seem like a lot of work, and it is, but avoiding gluten can affect even your social life. When you’re first getting to know people, making a bit more effort with with your dietary restriction can help make a good impression. However, after a bit of time, tell your friends that a compromise is definitely in order. You don’t get much choice when it comes to eating, and they should be understanding of that. Suggest only eating at restaurants that offer gluten-free options, when ordering pizza, order one that’s gluten-free and friends in the group can trade off who splits it with you. Bottom line; make it clear that your dietary restriction isn’t going to go away, and it has to be considered.

Eating gluten-free on a university campus is completely doable, it just takes a little extra work.

Do you have any advice for living gluten-free on campus? Share your gluten-free experiences with us!