College Celiac Fears

I am starting college in less than a month and I don't know how I feel. Wait a about:

Too excited to sleep at night
Freaked the heck out
Pumped up for a movie perfect year
Petrified at being a grown up 

Add in a bit of teen angst, celiac disease worries, and obsessive curiosity and a mad scientist could potentially create my emotional clone

I know most of these feelings are entirely normal. All teens feel apprehensive about starting life over in a new four-year home. Yet, when I'm already freaking out about the items on my shopping list - fridge, microwave, extension plug, ATM card, bed riser, school supplies, etc - and the things I still have to do - pick my part time job, choose clothes, initiate conversation with my roommate without scaring her - I can't help but hate celiac disease for adding to my stress

Other kids can share fridges and microwaves without a thought. I have to buy my own and figure out how to configure double the usual appliances in an identically small dorm room. 

Other kids can take up Point Loma's offer of a care package with deliciously gluten-filled rice crispy treats, chocolate chip cookies, and cakes. My parents and I have to figure out where I will get gluten free snacks. Will the cafeteria provide some? Will PLNU cover the costs if my parents must ship GF snacks to me instead?

Other kids can sigh in relief after signing themselves and their parents up for New Student Orientation. Yesterday, I emailed about gluten free options during the food events for my mother and I. Today I phoned the head chef. When I told him that I was both excited and petrified for school to start, he laughed and said, "No reason to be scared. That's what I'm here for." 

I wish it was finding tasty gluten-free foods in the cafeteria that scares me. Instead, I think the most frightening aspect - besides leaving home and making new friends - of starting college is thriving while being different than the "other kids."

There will be parties with pizza and treats, midnight burrito runs and baking contests, and tons of lunches and dinners with the guys and gals. And the struggle - the temptation to forget about gluten and live as a typical college student - will be real. I am strong enough to not give in. I've never really understood those who eat gluten despite an intolerance or negative reaction and I will never become one of them. Not brave (or stupid) enough for the glutened symptoms. Instead, I will fight against letting my dietary needs bother me or lessen my enjoyment of college. 

Fact is, I will never be like the "other kids." That's a scary concept, but I know it will work out just fine. Because of celiac disease, I have a stronger sense of self than some and a stronger discipline than most. Sometimes celiac is the feather that breaks the camel's back, but this camel will always get back up again. 

One month past this post, I will be two days into my first week of school. I will have eaten roughly four gluten free meals at the cafeteria (hopefully without any negative side effects), stunned six classes with my sheer brilliance twice, incited laughter purposely or by accident a dozen or more times, and gotten lost in my tiny campus too many instances to count. I will be scared, stressed, but entirely ecstatic. And all of the anxious thoughts, shopping sessions, annoying phone calls, and celiac related research I am now suffering from will create a well-prepared version of my present self

I can't wait

Are any of you celiacs or gluten free in college? How did you feel? Any tips for incoming freshmen? Comment below! 


  1. Hey Casey! just found your blog-it's awesome! It's so crazy that I was in the exact same situation as you this time last year. going gf right before the start of college was a challenge, but you can do it!!! I would recommend packing MUCH MORE food than you think you'll and finding a grocery store near campus with gf products. Also, talk to your dietician and get to know that chefs in the caf..they may be willing to prepare you special gf meals!! there is so much to talk about that I prob can't even fit it in this comment. haha. email me with any questions!! i would love to help!

    1. I'm soooo excited to meet someone who was in the same boat as me!! And it's definitely heartening to know that you survived, so I can too! Haha. Luckily my school is pretty well equipped to handle a celiac, so the chef can make my own gluten free cafeteria meals (score!). I will totally be packing my weight in snacks though - can't hurt to be prepared! Thank you so much for the support and I'll definitely be blowing up your email with some questions! :)


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