I Have Celiac Disease, & This Is How I'm Managing It In College

In 2015 I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune deficiency that prevents my small intestine from breaking down products that contain wheat, barley or rye. As a result, I’ve experienced unbearable stomach aches and a lot of discomfort. These aren't the stomach aches you get when you eat something that didn't agree with your stomach or when you're sick. These stomach aches are like being stabbed with a knife. Everyone who has this disease has different symptoms or potentially no symptoms at all.

After being diagnosed with celiac disease, I definitely had to take action in changing my diet. There was a lot of taste testing to find foods that I enjoyed and that gave me the proper nutrients with my new diet. Managing my diet in college wasn’t something that was on my radar when I was diagnosed. I was more focused on adjusting to this “new” life.

                 

When I was in the process of looking at colleges a big thing for me was attending an institution that met my dietary needs. This was definitely hard because some schools had allergy friendly options and others either didn't have an option or had very few selection of foods. University of New Hampshire was by a long stretch the best college to support my dietary needs. I was able to meet with a dietitian within the first weeks of college to figure out foods that would supply me with proper nutrients, as well as foods I enjoyed. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never had anything that contains gluten since being diagnosed because everyone needs to indulge a little in life, but it has certainly been hard for me to manage in college.

                                                                                             

My first semester of college I really struggled with being gluten free. My friends were able to eat whatever they wanted and enjoy the different foods offered in the dining halls as well as when we went off campus. I wanted to have the same experience as them when it came to trying new foods and trying different restaurants. That being said, I consumed more gluten in my first semester than I think I have over my three years of being gluten free. To me that's really upsetting. Yes, every now and then it’s okay to enjoy a little gluten, but not every single day during my meals. It's not healthy and very detrimental to my health in the long run.

          

After my first semester, I took a step back and looked at what I had done to my health through constant consumption of gluten. I told myself that I would never go back to an eating routine like that. When I came back from break I had a completely different attitude with food. I wasn't going to repeat last semester.

                                                                    

I am now about seven weeks into my second semester and I feel better personally and physically with myself. I do splurge a little every now and then; sneaking in some cheez its or half baked ice cream, but overall I am back on track and really focused on maintaining being gluten free.

Here's my favorite gluten free book →   

College is a learning experienced and I have definitely learned the importance of eating well and also following my dietary restrictions.