Tag Archives: diagnosis

14 Colleges That Cater to Gluten-Free Students

Over the past few decades, rates of gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, have skyrocketed. Today, it is estimated that nearly one out of every 133 people may have some degree of gluten intolerance. Whether this is because of a rise in actual gluten intolerance or just better ways of understanding and diagnosing the disease has yet to be determined, but it does mean that more and more colleges are paying attention and providing for the needs of students who may suffer from a gluten intolerance. While there is still a long way to go in making the majority of schools safe and celiac-friendly, some colleges and universities are going above and beyond when it comes to providing gluten-free options. Here are just a few of the schools who are leading the way, though many, if not most, have programs to provide meals for students with any kind of dietary need.

  1. Baylor University

    At Baylor University, students can find a wide range of gluten-free menu options through the school’s dining services. Due to demand from students, the university began offering more gluten-free options in 2010, and students can find out about which dining halls and menu items will meet their needs through the menus posted online each week.

  2. University of Tennessee

    Students with gluten intolerance can get help through a student nutrition coordinator found on campus. These professionals can help to ensure that students get the nutrition they need without encountering any potentially harmful gluten. Additionally, Volunteer Dining offers a range of gluten-free options both in residential dining halls and in the stores found throughout the campus. For students who still can’t find what they need, the school offers the option to put in special orders, though this must be done ahead of time.

  3. Georgetown University

    Georgetown University is working hard to meet the dietary needs of all the students on campus. While dining halls do not always have gluten-free options, students shouldn’t despair. The school has a registered dietician on staff who can help those with celiac to find the resources, tools, and food they need. This program can provide students with everything from gluten-free foods, to a gluten-free microwave to use, so that they’ll stay safe and healthy on campus.

  4. Oregon State University

    Students at Oregon State don’t have to work hard to find gluten-free options in their dining halls. The school offers a list of all of the gluten-free options they serve in each on-campus dining hall or cafe. At some locations, these options may be limited, but in many of the larger dining halls, gluten-intolerant students should find a wide range of healthy and tasty foods that won’t irritate their digestive systems. If those items don’t suit student needs, there is always a registered dietician on hand to make sure that dietary considerations are met.

  5. Bard College

    Bard College offers dining hall services that can meet a wide range of student dietary needs, from veganism to gluten intolerance. The school is currently working on renovations to one of their main dining halls that will include a new gluten-free section, keeping these foods separate from those that might contaminate them with gluten and cause reactions in some of the most sensitive students.

  6. University of Wisconsin

    In addition to a thriving student club on campus advocating for gluten-free options, UW Madison is working hard to meet the needs of students who need meals that are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. They’ve begun to label all food served in the cafeteria with symbols that are designed to make it simple to determine whether an item is OK to eat. Students can check with the weekly menus posted online to see what options will be gluten-free on any given day, with great choices like Thai noodles with tofu, tostadas, and enchiladas available.

  7. Southern Methodist University

    Eating gluten-free on campus can be a challenge, but Southern Methodist works to ensure that the process is a little bit easier for students. There is a registered dietician on staff who can help to design a healthy eating program for students and provides gluten-free options and equipment to students. Additionally, the school has recently created a dining hall called Healthy on the Hilltop which serves vegan and gluten-free fare (among other healthy options) to students with these dietary restrictions.

  8. University of Arizona

    Many people don’t realize the seriousness of gluten intolerance and how it is different from a food allergy, but students at the University of Arizona are working to change that. They have a large and growing group of advocates on campus who are pushing for greater gluten-free awareness. Dining services has taken notice, and in the fall of 2011 it began making changes to make it easier for gluten-free students on campus. This included switching to gluten-free food suppliers, choosing local foods, and educating staff on gluten-free preparation. Additionally, the school now offers several gluten-free entrées on campus, including pastas and breads that are totally gluten-free.

  9. Ithaca College

    There are three dining halls on Ithaca College’s campus, and each offers varying levels of gluten-free accommodation. At the main dining hall in the student center, there are gluten-free menus available for both lunch and dinner every day, giving students a range of options to choose from. There is also the Gluten-Free Pantry, which provides gluten-free breads, pastas, and equipment like microwaves and toasters. The other two dining halls don’t have a running menu, but students can pre-order gluten-free meals at them by contacting the dining hall management.

  10. Texas A&M, Corpus Christi

    Students at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi will find help from the school’s registered dietician in finding healthy and safe meal options. In the dining halls, students are provided with products like rice cereal, gluten-free pizza, soups, snacks, and desserts, as well as a whole host of veggies.

  11. University of Notre Dame

    In order to make eating in the dining halls less complicated for students who need to stick to a gluten-free diet, Notre Dame has listed all the menu items they serve on campus that are free of gluten. Students can search by dining hall for entrées, sides, and snacks that are gluten-free. For students who want something different, the dining hall will prepare special meals on request to meet any dietary needs, including gluten-free.

  12. University of New Hampshire

    Students can follow this link to an informative guide on eating gluten-free at UNH. With the help of the registered dietician and the director of culinary services, students shouldn’t have too hard a time finding gluten-free options. In each of the three dining halls on campus, students can find a gluten-free zone with restricted microwaves, toasters, and refrigerators, as well as a selection of prepackaged gluten-free items like cereal, bread, granola bars, waffles, desserts, and condiments. Students can also choose to pre-order meals or cook their own stir fry or omelets in separate gluten-restricted stations.

  13. SUNY Potsdam

    SUNY Potsdam goes above and beyond when it comes to accommodating students who need to eat gluten-free. Students at SUNY can choose from a wide range of gluten-free prepackaged items for entrées or snacks. There are also separate stations in the dining halls that cater to gluten-free eaters, preventing cross-contamination while also ensuring celiac students have plenty of options to choose from. Even at the school’s deli, students can choose from a variety of gluten-free breads, making finding something to eat on campus much easier. Additionally, meals can be prepared on request for any student who needs or wants them.

  14. Tufts University

    Tufts takes food allergies and intolerance quite seriously, and has tried to accommodate students with these special needs accordingly. The school has prepared a number of educational pamphlets on the issue that students can read through to learn what their dining options are on campus and how gluten-free meals are prepared. Students are advised to work with the school’s dietician, but can also find information on all menu items through “food fact cards.” The school also lists all foods served at dining halls across campus that are safe for celiacs to eat.

For Many of Us, It’s Not a Fad

I found this article to ring true for a lot of us with Celiac Disease or a true medical condition that prevents us from eating gluten.

Via Weekly Herald:

Gluten-free not fun for all

GOOD HEALTH | By Katie Murdoch, Herald writer
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Although going gluten-free has become the latest diet trend, it’s a way of life for people with Celiac disease.

Celiac disease has been documented in the medical literature for more than 100 years, but until 10 years ago most doctors knew very little about it, said Nick Rose, nutrition educator for PCC Natural Markets.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, damages the lining of the small intestines in people with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies. This can cause constipation, severe abdominal pain and nausea.

Experts recommend omitting gluten for three primary reasons: treating patients with Celiac disease; helping people with gluten intolerance and allergies; and as a way to rule out possible food intolerances.

Those with gluten intolerance will see reduced symptoms of bloating and headaches, but the diet won’t necessarily benefit everyone, Rose said.

Health concerns, specific symptoms and supporting a family member have led to the diet gaining more attention, he said.

That attention wasn’t always beneficial, said Amber Wester, co-owner of SmartEats, a Mill Creek specialty store stocked with gluten-free products.

Misdiagnoses led to over diagnoses, the media hyped it and then celebrities got involved, leading to gluten-free’s fad status, she said.

“It distracts from the people who have health issues,” Wester said.

At PCC, gluten-free products are included in an online data base of foods in the store and marks gluten-free products with eye-catching orange tags.

Rose recommends people on a gluten-free diet read food labels carefully, as there is no uniform standard used when labeling food as gluten-free. There is also concern about cross-contamination in the oven, toaster and cutting board.

“Celiacs pay dearly if they fall off the wagon,” he said.

Recipe books are hitting bookstores to help people find tasty alternatives and still consume nutrients.

Nutritionist Janine Whiteson was contributing editor to “The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook,” which hit shelves this month. The book was in response to letters from readers asking for help, Whiteson said.

The recipe book offers education about vitamins and nutrient sources and portion sizes and warns about hidden sources of gluten, including bleu cheese, cough syrups and salad dressings.

“We’re taking the fad out of it,” Whiteson said. “This is a healthy, safe way.”

NY Times: The Expense of Eating with Celiac Disease

Kelly Oram and his daughter Micaela make gluten-free bread at home. Mr. Oram suffered for years from celiac disease before a doctor thought to test him for it.

Kelly Oram and his daughter Micaela make gluten-free bread at home. Mr. Oram suffered for years from celiac disease before a doctor thought to test him for it.

VIA NY Times: YOU would think that after Kelly Oram broke more than 10 bones and experienced chronic stomach problems for most of his life, someone (a nurse? a doctor?) might have wondered if something fundamental was wrong with his health. But it wasn’t until Mr. Oram was in his early 40s that a doctor who was treating him for a neck injury became suspicious and ordered tests, including a bone scan.

It turned out that Mr. Oram, a music teacher who lives in White Plains, had celiac disease, an underdiagnosed immune disorder set off by eating foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine, making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. Victims may suffer from mild to serious malnutrition and a host of health problems, including anemia, low bone density and infertility. Celiac affects one out of 100 people in the United States, but a majority of those don’t know they have the disease, said Dr. Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota who has been studying the disease for two decades. The disease can be detected by a simple blood test, followed by an endoscopy to check for damage to the small intestine.

Seven years after receiving his diagnosis, Mr. Oram, who is married and has one daughter, is symptom-free, but the cost of staying that way is high. That’s because the treatment for celiac does not come in the form of a pill that will be reimbursed or subsidized by an insurer. The treatment is to avoid eating products containing gluten. And gluten-free versions of products like bread, pizza and crackers are nearly three times as expensive as regular products, according to a study conducted by the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Unfortunately for celiac patients, the extra cost of a special diet is not reimbursed by health care plans. Nor do most policies pay for trips to a dietitian to receive nutritional guidance.

In Britain, by contrast, patients found to have celiac disease are prescribed gluten-free products. In Italy, sufferers are given a stipend to spend on gluten-free food.

Some doctors blame drug makers, in part, for the lack of awareness and the lack of support. “The drug makers have not been interested in celiac because, until very recently, there have been no medications to treat it,” said Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. “And since drug makers are responsible for so much of the education that doctors receive, the medical community is largely unaware of the disease.”

As awareness grows and the market expands, perhaps the prices of gluten-free products will come down. Meanwhile, if you suffer from the disease, here are some ways to keep your costs down.

When people first learn they have celiac disease, they tend to stock up on gluten-free versions of breads, crackers and pizza made from grains other than wheat, like rice, corn and buckwheat. But that can be expensive and might not even be that healthy, since most gluten-free products are not fortified with vitamins.

“The most important thing to do after being diagnosed is to get a dietary consultation,” Dr. Murray said. With planning, you can learn to base your diet on fruits, vegetables, rice and potatoes. “I have some patients who rarely use those special gluten-free products,” he said.

Get in the habit of reading labels, advises Elaine Monarch, executive director of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Studio City, Calif. Soy sauce, for instance, often has wheat protein as a filler. But Ms. Monarch found a brand of light soy sauce at her local grocery with no wheat that cost much less than one specifically marked as gluten-free. “There are often alternatives to specialty products, but you have to look,” she said.

Gluten-free bread is more expensive than traditional bread and often less palatable. And that holds for many gluten-free items. Some people, including Mr. Oram, end up buying a bread machine and making their own loaves. Nicole Hunn, who cooks gluten-free meals for her family of five and just started the Web site glutenfreeonashoestring.com, avoids mixes, which she says are expensive and not that tasty, and instead bakes with an all-purpose gluten-free flour from a company called Bob’s Red Mill, which can be used in place of wheat flour in standard recipes.

If you’re too busy to cook, look for well-priced gluten-free food at large chains like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. “Trader Joe’s now carries fantastic brown rice pasta that is reasonably priced and brown rice flour tortillas that can sub for bread with a variety of things,” says Kelly Courson, co-founder of the advice site CeliacChicks.com. Ms. Courson put out a Twitter message to her followers and learned that many were fans of DeBoles gluten-free pastas, which can be bought in bulk on Amazon, and puffed brown rice cereal by Alf’s Natural Nutrition, just $1 a bag at Wal-Mart.

Finally, it may be worthwhile to join a celiac support group. You can swap cost-cutting tips, share recipes and learn about new products. Many groups invite vendors to bring gluten-free products to meetings for members to sample — members can buy items they like at a discount and skip the shipping charges. Support groups typically have meetings, as well as newsletters and Web sites where you can post questions. Groups to check out include the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Finally, if you itemize your tax return and your total medical expenses for the year exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, you can write off certain expenses associated with celiac disease. You can deduct the excess cost of a gluten-free product over a comparable gluten-containing product.

Let’s say you spend $6.50 on a loaf of gluten-free bread, and a regular loaf costs $4; you can deduct $2.50. In addition, you can deduct the cost of products necessary to maintain a gluten-free diet, like xanthan gum for baking. If you mail order gluten-free products, the shipping costs may be deductible, too. If you have to travel extra miles to buy gluten-free goods, the mileage is also deductible. You’ll need a doctor’s letter to confirm your diagnosis and your need for a gluten-free diet, and you should save receipts in case of a tax audit.

Do you have a flexible spending account at work? Ask the plan administrator if you can use those flex spending dollars on the excess cost of gluten-free goods — many plans let you do this. For more on tax deductions, go to the tax section of the Celiac Disease Foundation’s Web site.  Yes, managing the disease is a hassle. But untreated celiac disease can wreak havoc with your health. A study published in the July issue of the journal Gastroenterology found that subjects who had undiagnosed celiac were nearly four times as likely to have died over a 45-year period than subjects who were celiac-free.

“Sometimes I resent how time-consuming it is to cook from scratch,” Ms. Courson of CeliacChicks.com said. “But I remind myself that my restrictions actually help keep me in line, more than the next person with unhealthy foods readily available.”

A Good Summation

A nicely informative article from the Daily Astorian via the Eastern Oregonian.


East Oregonian Publishing Group

“Gluten-free” foods are available in supermarkets more than ever before, thanks to increasing awareness of celiac disease.

In the United States, about one out of every 130 people has celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten.

Gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, barley and triticale. When someone with celiac disease eats anything containing gluten, the immune system reacts abnormally because it identifies gluten as a foreign substance. This reaction causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine, and interferes with the absorption of nutrients.

Celiac disease is not an allergy to gluten – people can grow out of allergies. Rather, it’s an autoimmune disease that you can’t grow out of. It can appear at any time in a person’s life, and may be triggered by surgery, a viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth.

For many people with celiac disease, the time between the onset of the symptoms and diagnosis may be long. Celiac disease is commonly misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcer, Crohn’s disease or a parasite infection.

Typical symptoms of celiac disease include ongoing diarrhea or constipation or both, bloating and abdominal discomfort. Celiac disease should be suspected in children with stunted growth, pale appearance, irritability, potbelly, flat buttocks and/or foul-smelling stools.

Other symptoms of celiac disease include iron deficiency anemia, irritability, depression, fatigue, weight loss, canker sores in the mouth, joint pain, muscle cramps, and tingling in the hands and feet. Many of these problems result from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, because nutrients are not well-absorbed in the small intestine.

Some people with celiac disease have a blistering, intensely itchy skin rash – most often seen on the elbows, knees and buttocks – called dermatitis herpetiformis. This rash, with small clusters of red bumps, may or may not be associated with intestinal symptoms, but the treatment is the same.

The risk factors for celiac disease include a family history of celiac disease, autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and thyroiditis, and some genetic problems such as Downs syndrome and Turner syndrome.

To diagnose celiac disease, the first step is a blood test, looking for specific antibodies. If the antibody tests are positive, the next step is an endoscopic small bowel biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and assess the damage in the lining of the small intestine.

Once the diagnosis of celiac disease is made, the treatment is straightforward: complete exclusion of gluten from the diet. People living with celiac disease must completely avoid wheat – including farina, graham flour, durum, semolina, einkorn, Kamut, spelt, matzo meal and farro – rye and barley. There are no medications for celiac disease.

Once people with newly-diagnosed celiac disease start a gluten-free diet, they start feeling better within days.

Although the treatment is straightforward, it is not easy to stick to a gluten-free diet. Gluten is used as a protein filler in products such as sausage, soup, gravy, soy sauce and ice cream. Pizza, croutons, crackers, pasta, bread, most cereal, cookies, cakes and pies are all off-limits. Gluten is also used as a binder in some pharmaceutical products.

It’s not a matter of just decreasing the amount of gluten in the diet – it must be completely eliminated. Even trace amounts of gluten can cause intestinal damage in people with celiac disease.

Possible long-term complications of celiac disease include infertility, increased risk of miscarriage, osteoporosis, intestinal lymphoma and bowel cancer.

Some with celiac disease also become lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t digest the milk sugar found in dairy products.

Amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa are gluten-free grains, but they can be contaminated with gluten-containing grains during harvesting and processing. Flours made from rice, soy, potato and corn are gluten-free. Oats are gluten-free, but there is some controversy about whether or not they are safe. Oats are likely to be contaminated with wheat, and some people with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis also react to a substance in oats. Be sure to look for “gluten free” labels.

People living with celiac disease must learn to read food labels to look for gluten-containing ingredients.

It’s a challenge to stick to a gluten-free diet when eating out. Try to find restaurants that understand your need to avoid gluten, get to know the staff and patronize them often.

If you have celiac disease, reach out and connect with others in your area and talk to grocery stores and restaurant owners about the importance of having gluten-free options available.

Kathryn B. Brown worked as a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner before going to work for the East Oregonian. She can be reached at kbbrown@eastoregonian.com.