Updated: May 30, 2019
I am so pumped to share this blog post with all of you. Since I am not the expert in this YET… (my oldest is 9 years old… I know it will come in a blink of an eye… but until then, I am not the expert) but my friend Clayton is. You guys, he is rocking not just the college life as a celiac, but college life as a celiac athlete … like a boss! If you missed us on our Instagram live… you really missed out. He is one of the most positive 20 year olds I know… But don’t worry… he will soon be featured in the new Gluten Free You & Me Podcast. So stay tuned, you will not want to miss that episode. Hearing him share his journey and how he stays positive in his dorm full of gluten eating friends is so motivating and hopeful. (He’s #3 below)
I couldn’t wait for Clayton to share a little bit of his life and his best tips with all of you, especially now that college is just a few short months away for so many of you. He was pumped to share these insights with us all and I love how he shares how he figured out on his own who he needed to speak to and how to find his own voice and be his own advocate… what an awesome kid!
Hi everyone! My name is Clayton, but you may (or may not) know me from Instagram as @CollegeAndCeliac. I set out to share my story as a collegian as well as an athlete. I want to show to all those who are in high school, about to go to college, or in college that they can do anything they can dream of and then some, proving that Celiac can’t hold you back. I not only want to share this information with young adults with celiac, but also the parents that are sending their child off to get a higher education and away from the gluten-free safe haven of their home. Enough about me! I want to share tips, tricks, and IMPORTANT INFO with you all.
Tips and Tricks For the College Student
1. One word for ya; Plan. Plan ahead for everything you do. This is not just a celiac tip, this is a tip for any college bound student. College is full of unpredictability and spontaneity, having a restricted diet means with a little extra planning, life will go incredibly smooth.
Let me give you an example of a typical day for myself at school:
6:00 a.m.- Wake up, get ready for the day
7:00- Eat a good breakfast
8:00- First class of the day
9:30- Finish up some homework/watch Netflix/chill out
11:00- Lunch or extra-curricular meeting
3:30- Practice/Team workouts
7:00- Work in the library
9:00- Hang out with friends or get ready for bed
The last thing I do each day is write down a plan just like this one but for the next day.
Planning becomes so important, especially looking ahead at the next day to try and get an idea of where and when you will eat so that way you can plan accordingly as well as ask questions early enough in advance to make the proper arrangements.
2. Okay we all know you will go off to college, study hard, ace your exams and make the deans list every semester. But you can’t study all the time! Parties are bound to happen in college, and if you choose to go, be smart! If you’re at a party, you just can’t take a drink out of your friends cup, not knowing what it is because yes, there is gluten in many types of alcohol, and you never know what your friends may have just eaten either. In a social situation like a party, it is much easier to use excuses like “I’m the DD tonight” “I’ve already switched to water” “I’ve tried it, don’t like it” or just simply “No thanks” because those responses are MUCH easier than explaining to them your concerns about cross contact, gluten, celiac, etc.
3. Snacks are important. Take snacks everywhere.
4. Get familiar with the restaurants on campus and in your college town that have safe options for you.
5. Explore the farmer markets in town, see if there is a Celiac group page on Facebook for your college town, and try to connect others with gluten intolerances on campus so you can have more information on your town!
6. Don’t waste your time on friends that don’t respect the importance of your diet.
7. Stay positive, before long you’ll be back home on break eating an amazing home cooked meal.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION EVERY COLLEGE STUDENT AND PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW
From my experiences being a college student, the most important thing is being transparent. When I got to campus the first thing I did was set up a meeting with 1) Director of Student Life 2) Food Service Supervisor and 3) Campus ADA Representative. The director of student life is always the greatest point of contact to begin asking questions to see what resources are available for celiac students on campus. The meeting with the food service supervisor is to gauge how knowledgeable they are with cross contact and what gluten is. This is also your time to talk about the importance of not being exposed to gluten and then deciding if you feel comfortable enough to eat out of the dining hall. If you are, then great! If you are worried about it, then that leads to your new best friend and number three on the list, you campuses ADA coordinator and representative. Dietary restrictions such as celiac disease and food allergies fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your representative can set up a plan that will help keep you healthy and successful while on campus. I would try to do as much research as you can before you or your child gets on campus and maybe try and take care of everything before they even start classes in the fall.