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Being gluten-free is not just a trend — for some people, it’s the only way we can safely eat. For those who may not be familiar with Celiac (or Coeliac), it is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten. The bodies of people with Celiac cannot digest gluten properly, which causes different symptoms depending on the person. There is no cure for Celiac disease, and the only form of treatment is a 100% gluten-free diet. 

Gluten is a protein that is found in many forms, such as wheat, barley, and rye, and other ingredients that may not have these names. This is what is so dangerous to people with Celiac. We are not always aware of what gluten is, and what it is labeled as on packaging. Just the other day, I found out that Rice Krispy Treats are not gluten-free, because of the ingredient “malt flavoring”, which derives from barely. I have been diagnosed with Celiac for two years now, and I am still having trouble figuring out what things are gluten-free or not. 

I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle to where I can eat, along with educating myself, friends and family, and even restaurant workers who do not know the severity of Celiac disease. The biggest issue for me and others is cross-contamination. Every utensil, plate, cutting board, pan, and countertop must be sanitized and free from any particle of gluten. For restaurants, this adds a whole extra process for them to follow just to be able to provide me with a meal. 

I am lucky enough to have access to gluten-free products in local restaurants and grocery stores near me, but in more rural areas, there is not enough demand. Those who have celiac disease in these areas either have very limited food options or they go undiagnosed because of poor healthcare or a misdiagnosis. I was undiagnosed for almost six years after my symptoms started. My symptoms originally matched those of anxiety, with restless legs and arms, and often feeling tingly skin, which I was told was just my skin being dry. It took me six years to get diagnosed, and all it took was a simple blood test. This is even more of an issue for those who do not have access to healthcare. 

Because there is no cure, I have found different ways to help myself and others and to spread awareness to those who want to help friends and family who also suffer from Celiac disease. I have started educating myself about certain ingredients I am unable to have. Through my education, I have learned that not all skincare products are gluten-free. My old shampoo contained wheatberries, which caused me to have a reaction. For me, spreading awareness is the easiest way to feel as if I am doing something to help. 

As an out-of-state freshman at the College of Charleston, I have been learning about the different resources both the College and the city make available. I am someone who loves to try new foods, so being able to do that in Charleston is both fun and scary, but I don’t let it stop me. I continue to educate myself and others around me.

For anyone interested in more, check out some of my favorite resources below:

Instagram pages: 

Celiacdietitian

Celiactivist

Philhatesgluten

Glutenfree_cofc – This is my personal celiac account, where I am starting to review places around Charleston and talk about my personal tips for managing celiac as a college student.

Websites: 

https://nationalceliac.org

www.beyondceliac.org

Apps: (IOS)

Find Me Gluten Free – find local restaurants and read reviews from others with gluten allergies

FIG – My favorite app while shopping, you select from hundreds of food allergies/intolerances and you can scan barcodes to see if it is safe for you to eat.

Abby Malloy

C of C '26

Hey there! I'm Abby I'm from Chapel Hill, NC. I'm studying Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Some of my interests include baking with a gluten allergy, coffee, indie/pop music artists, and reading! I enjoy writing as a way to decompress from school work and let my creativity flow through my fingertips onto the screen that you are reading this from!
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