You’ve probably heard the phrase “Gluten-Free” floating around a lot in the past couple of years. While this may lead you to think that it is just another diet trend, think again. There’s definitely a lot of underlying information that backs up why this has come to the forefront of our culture. To help us understand this, first we must know what Gluten is.
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and any crossbreed of those grains. That means that it is found in a wide variety of foods such as bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, dressings and more. However for some, gluten doesn’t agree with their bodies. This can be for several reasons:
Therefore, to avoid a painful reaction to gluten, one has to find alternative foods. Luckily there are many options out there. You simply have to look for the label “gluten free” “no gluten” “without gluten” or “free of gluten.” In order for a manufacturer to put that label on their product they must limit the presence of gluten to less than 20 parts per million, as outlined by the FDA.
If you follow a gluten free diet, you may feel like your options are limited in a college dining environment. However this is definitely not the case, especially on SUNY campuses across the state. There are a variety of alternatives for students to eat delicious, healthy foods without having to worry about gluten.
On a broad scale, many schools have a campus dietitian who is there to serve as a resource for students with dietary restrictions. The dietitian can provide you with tips and advice to better understand your options for gluten free meals on campus. This is a wonderful resource, which can aid you if you are ever confused or just need someone to help guide you on campus.
It’s also a great idea to notify the dining hall staff of your restriction, so that they can prepare your food in a safe manner. Many campuses have “allergen kits”, which are separate cooking supplies and utensils that are kept to prepare food for those who have food allergies. Plus some campuses explicitly label the items that are being served with a gluten free symbol so that they can be easily identifiable.
Speaking with the campus dietitian comes in handy so you can make yourself aware of special options on your own respective campus. For example at Stony Brook University, students can order their gluten free meals ahead of time, so that it will be ready when they go to the dining hall. At SUNY Geneseo there is an entire gluten free kitchen station called Kasha, where students can choose from tasty naturally gluten free menu items. In addition, SUNY campus stores carry an assortment of gluten free foods that you can purchase at your convenience.
In today’s health conscious world, you don’t have to fret about eating on campus just because you live a gluten free lifestyle. If you learn about what is available to you, you will see that finding a meal on campus doesn’t have to be difficult or unappealing.
Atiba was an intern with SUNY's Office of New Media, who became a University at Albany graduate in English with a minor in Communications.