Back to College Soon
It’s August again and I know that while the University of Washington’s fall term doesn’t begin until September 30th (it’s a little bit ridiculous, I know), many students will be moving in to their dorms in the next few weeks. By now, you should all be in some sort of contact with your university or college; if not, stop RIGHT NOW and call the housing and food services and/or disability office. Explain that being gluten-free is not a dietary choice, or a preference, but a medical necessity - really stress how sensitive you (or your student) is and that this is a chronic life threatening condition. I can only hope that your institutions are as fabulously helpful and willing to work with you as the University of Washington!
If you have not already, arrive maybe a day early and explore the area around the campus and dormitories: where are restaurants? Grocery stores? Health food stores? Go in and speak to some of the restaurants, explain your situation and see what they can do -- this way you have a pretty good idea of what options are available before classes start and things get crazy! To make life a bit easier Gluten Free Passport has come out with iEatOut Gluten & Allergen Free™ Application for the iPhone/iPod
Next, you really need to speak to your roommate: explain the situation in detail and most importantly, discuss what this means for them: not leaving crumbs on the couch, eating at your desk, throwing flour all over the room, etc. Think about making an informal agreement or contract to hammer out details like putting gluten-containing items on the bottom shelf/half of a shared refrigerator, or always covering foods that go in the microwave, etc. Remember that you are going to be living with this person, or people, for the next nine months - you both want to be happy and feel that the other is being respectful and reasonable. Be reasonable. Explain the severity of the situation, and just remember that while Celiac disease and gluten-intolerance are becoming more and more main stream, you cannot expect everyone to be familiar with the concept or know specific details. You can’t prevent your roommate from eating gluten-containing foods in the room, but you can explain how to create a safe, healthy environment for both of you.
Next, make sure that your dorm is outfitted with a refrigerator/freezer (even if there is a power limit for your dorm, you should be able to work something out with Housing/Food services) Also, if you aren’t living in an apartment with a kitchen, most dorms have kitchen spaces throughout the building: make sure to provide your own utensils and cookware, but the stove and microwave will be your best friends. I would also recommend looking at an instant kettle -- this really cool plastic contraption that can boil up to a liter of water in just a few minutes -- ideal for instant oatmeal, tea/coffee/hot cocoa, and any other instant foods.
Next month I’ll have a whole list of fabulous gluten-free foods that are perfect for college, but in the mean time please contact me with any questions you might have!
If you have any questions, comments or ideas of your own - let me know! Feel free to contact me at this link.
- Kelsey Ganes, University of Washington student