A gluten-free blog about the life of a celiac in college (and now grad school). Full of personal stories about life with celiac disease and fibromyalgia; gluten free, vegan and paleo recipes; and product and restaurant reviews. Plus, reflects on body image, dating and more with a chronic illness!
College textbooks are arriving in the mail, my roommate is texting about dorm colors and teachers' emails are filling my inbox. As hard as it is to believe, this celiac has less than twoweeks before its time to head back to college and attack sophomore year! As excited as I am, though, my endless to-do list of reins over my thoughts at night. So when Smart Flour Foods contacted me about writing a post on what to do before stepping into homeroom, I couldn't say no!
How could I say no to the maker of this?
Smart Flour Foods focuses on providing nutritional, delicious gluten free products from pizzas to hamburger buns. All the food uses a particular "Smart Flour" blend, a mix of ancient grains, to skyrocket the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in every bite.
Preparing for school is a lot like finding the ideal flour blend: it takes lots of mistakes and practice to finally get it right. Here are three tips from Smart Flour Foods and me that'll take the stress out of school planning.
First off, take advantage of 21st century technology and communicate with your school officials. In terms of the lower schools (high school and earlier), Smart Flour Foods suggests contacting the teachers in charge of snack time, the school nurse and other relevant members of staff.
Talk it out!
In my experience, at the college level, the two most important people to get in contact with are those in charge of the Disability Resource Center and the staff involved in the dining facilities (including the manager and chefs). The Disability Resource Center is important because, depending on the set up of the school, a student can document his or her celiac disease/food allergy and therefore be eligible for accommodations. In my case, I have medical files about my celiac diagnosis that justifies special cafeteria accommodations, emails to my teachers about long-term celiac related absences, and more.
As for the cafeteria staff, try to learn the most possible about their procedures and allergy protocol before day one. There is nothing more stressful on the first day of school than walking blind into the cafeteria, starving but unsure what is safe to eat. In my case, my cafeteria has a new manager this upcoming school year who is apparently going to try to prevent cross contamination of the gluten free stations. My email requesting further details hasn't been answered yet, but I still have introduced myself and my dietary needs before school actually starts. Mission (at least partly) completed!
Make friends with the chef!
Second, step onto campus fully loaded - with food, of course! When I first left for college last year, food only took up one of my bags. That was a mistake my growling and jealous stomach wouldn't let me forget! This year, I'm bringing an entire arsenal of food ranging from homemade granola to power up my breakfast to protein bars for between classes!
Equally as important as snacks, though, are actual meal substitutes. No matter how awesomely understanding the cafeteria staff may be, mistakes will happen. A few times I walked out of the cafeteria still hungry after my meal order got lost. For those kind of cases, bulk up on items like soup (I love Gluten Free Cafe's Chicken Noodle), cereal, and frozen meals (I can personally vouch for the delicious taste and texture of Smart Flour Food's frozen pizza).
Mom and I approved the pizza!
And, if Lady Luck has provided a kitchen, take advantage of it! I have a dorm kitchen for the first time this year so I'm also packing a few basic cooking utensils, flour mixes (midnight pancakes, anyone?) and grains (like quinoa and buckwheat) so I can whip up my own dinner when the mood strikes (or the cafeteria fails).
Lastly, though, try not to over-stress about planning for everything. Anyone who knows how Type-A I can act is laughing right now, but this is a tip I'm actively trying to follow myself. There will be forgotten necessities (can someone remind me to add baking powder to my shopping list?) and unexpected events. I knew I was surprised when my Psychology group wanted to have a pancake breakfast and I didn't have a gluten free mix on hand! The fact is, though, being unprepared every so often didn't taint my whole freshman year experience. It only gave me more insight on how to make next time - this sophomore year - even better!
Topping this? Challenge accepted!
One of Smart Flour Foods's suggestions is to make the experience of planning and making food a fun activity. I couldn't agree more! As I start my "To-Bring-Food" list, I'm thinking of all the fun I'm going to have cooking with my roommate and fueling my college adventures, not what ingredient I could be missing. That's what grocery stores are for!
In past years, the end of summer had always been a period of mourning. This year, my last two weeks filled with planning and preparation, is different. It's celebratory and my bags of stuff and snacks are a signof the adventures to come. With the three tips Smart Flour Foods and I have shared above, I hope preparing can be the same for you!
What's the food you can't go to class without? Have you ever tried a product by Smart Flour Foods? Comment below!