Learning how to eat gluten-free while maintaining an upbeat and social college life is not always easy. Most university campuses are not set up to cater to anything remotely close to a regular healthy diet, let alone a special diet.
Why are Campuses Tough for Gluten Free Eating?
College campuses usually have umpteen fast food establishments and dining halls that cater to generic diets with a lack of any dorm facilities for students to cook their own food. That situation makes it challenging to eat gluten-free while using the standard food plans available to students.
Some campuses have begun to install communal cooking areas in dormitories and now offer healthier menu choices in dining halls. Because you already eat gluten-free, you have an idea of which foods are not compatible with the diet.
How to Eat Gluten-Free in the Campus Dining Hall
It is possible to keep gluten free in a campus dining hall, but it is necessary to keep an eye out for potential gluten-based fillers. To eat gluten-free, avoid breaded foods or foods that contain gluten sources. Salisbury steak, for instance, is sometimes a dining hall staple. The gravy used in Salisbury steak almost invariably contains flour. This is the same for most types of gravy.
Gluten sources are occasionally even used in salads and fruit-based desserts as flavor enhancers and fillers. Many jus sauces are usually safe since they are supposed to only contain the juices from different meats. Foods such as tuna salad and chicken salad are usually free of gluten. Some recipes call for bread crumbs or saltines to stretch the protein.
Above all, ask questions. If the student staff can’t answer your questions about the ingredients in the food, ask to speak with a supervisor or the chef. While it may not seem like it, most schools employ a full-time chef to oversee the menu that is served in a dining hall.
Some food items keep just fine whether you have access to a fridge or not, but a mini-fridge is a good investment. Microwave ovens are also usually allowed in dorm rooms, but ask if electric hot plates and toaster ovens are allowed too. Each of these provides more cooking options to easily avoid gluten.
Maintain a Gluten Free Diet Off-Campus
It is often shocking to learn just how many foods contain gluten in a college dining hall or in other restaurant fare. Many dormitories deny the use of certain cooking tools like hot plates, toasters and toaster ovens. Because of this, the best living situation is generally off-campus housing.
It is easy to figure out how to eat gluten-free when living away from the college dorms. You will buy your own food, so you will know what is going into each dish. Gather all of the recipes used at home for your meals and do online searches for quick and easy gluten free recipes. It is somewhat surprising to learn how many easy meals there are!