Rise and Shine Shared that preparing for college is an exciting time, but for many incoming students, this is the first time they are spending a significant amount of time away from home. Students with celiac disease can find this new adventure intimidating since they are having to navigate their disease, food choices, options, and preparation on their own, for the first time, without the support of parents, friends, and family.
Although this may seem overwhelming, you want to make sure your child is prepared and able to follow a gluten-free diet while still enjoying campus living.
Tips for ensuring your child can stick to a gluten-free diet
To ensure your child can stick to a gluten-free diet while living away from your home, make sure:
- They have a good understanding of the gluten-free diet and foods that are allowed and not allowed on the diet.
- They can read and identify gluten-containing ingredients on a food label.
- They understand the risk of cross-contamination and possible places where this can occur.
- They are familiar with medications that are gluten-free and safe to take.
- They can prepare a few gluten-free meals or snacks.
- They can safely order a gluten-free meal when eating at a dining hall, restaurant, or café.
If your child is struggling to understand the gluten-free diet, what foods are allowed or not allowed, how to read a food label, or where cross contamination can occur, make an appointment with your child’s provider or dietitian to review the ins and outs of the gluten-free diet.
Teach your child how to advocate for themselves
Since this is the first time that many of them will be “on their own,” your child should feel comfortable advocating for themselves and their disease without the support of family members. This includes asking staff the appropriate questions about certain food items and how they are prepared when eating at a dining hall, restaurant or cafe both on and off campus. They should feel comfortable asking staff to change their gloves or use separate utensils when preparing their food items. You can also research the surrounding area (off-campus) prior to starting school to find off-campus options that offer a gluten-free menu or gluten-free foods.