Imagine a life without gluten. That means no whole wheat bread, no Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, no Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesars and no white-chocolate-chip-macadamia nut cookies from Subway. For the majority of students at UVU, a life without these delicious delicacies would be a sad one but there is a growing population of these people across our country and across UVU campus. Wheat, barley and rye all contain gluten and are main ingredients found in the majority of food Americans consume.
Celiac disease is a digestive condition that is triggered by gluten consumption. When people with celiac disease eat food containing gluten they cause damage to the inner surface of the small intestine which prevents them from absorbing certain nutrients. Other common symptoms include abdominal pain, anemia, weight loss and fatigue. There is not a cure for celiac disease but it is very manageable through diet change.
So how do UVU students with celiac disease manage on a campus swarming with gluten-infested food? Every student is different and must individually change their diet to best match their life, but a common answer among gluten-intolerant people is that it gets easier with time.
The initial diet change can be extremely intimidating and overwhelming because the majority of food produced in America contains gluten. When you think back to your childhood school lunches what do you think of? Maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some pretzels, an apple and a couple of chewy Chips Ahoy cookies? All of which, aside from the apple, contain gluten. But there is hope. There are many gluten-free alternatives available today that make eating enjoyable for these people.
There are even gluten free options available on campus. Costa Vida has changed the recipes for their dressings, sauces and meat choices to make them gluten free. As long as you leave out the flour or wheat tortilla and a few dessert choices, nearly everything on the menu is safe for the “Celiacs.”
However, it does take a little bit more planning and consideration for students who have to avoid gluten. A simple trip to the vending machine in between classes requires more thought as you sift through which options are safe to eat.
As students prepare for the upcoming semester, many of them are moving out of their homes with their families which means meal preparation is a new responsibility. Compared to others, the shopping cart belonging to students with celiac disease will look slightly different. For them, a trip to the grocery store will include stewing over ingredient labels to ensure there is no gluten. Many of these students also keep gluten free snacks with them in case they find themselves in a situation where there are no gluten-free options.
Students today are lucky because as more people are becoming aware of Celiac Disease there are more and more food options available and more restaurants are offering gluten-free options. Almond flour can be used in desserts, quinoa and rice can take the place of a homemade roll at Thanksgiving dinner, creamy buckwheat can replace Cream-O-Wheat for breakfast and with a lot of imagination, rice crackers can be used in place of bread for sandwiches.