Introducing Gluten-Free Living’s Guest Blogger

Hi! I’m Amanda Ratner. Throughout the rest of the summer I’ll be a guest blogger for Gluten- Free Living, giving a college student’s perspective on dealing with the gluten-free diet.

You already know my Mom, Amy, who blogs here on all kinds of topics. She first started writing for the magazine shortly after I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 2-years-old. Now I’m helping out at the magazine while I am home for the summer.

My freshman and sophomore years in college I relied on dining hall salads, grilled chicken, vegetable sushi rolls and lots of coffee for lunch and dinner. I stuck with a few familiar meals throughout the year because I knew that they were gluten free. When I wanted to try something new, I could check out all the ingredients on my university’s dining hall website. OK, so I didn’t do that too often because who really has time when they are rushing to class.

I usually felt like I had a lot of options, but there were also days when being able to grab a sandwich between classes would have been nice.
I’ll be a junior this fall, but honestly I’m only beginning to learn how to cook real meals for myself.

I’ve always had an advantage with my Mom working for Gluten-Free Living because it has meant that she knows so much about the diet that I felt that I could just listen to what she told me I could eat. I never had too many questions about celiac disease because I was diagnosed before I was too young to even understand what was going on and by the time I was older a gluten-free lifestyle was just second nature.

In college I got a job at the health center and became very interested in health and wellness. Learning about health in general made me more curious and interested in my own health and exactly how celiac disease works.

I took a writing class where I had to conduct a few interviews throughout the semester and always chose to talk to people in the celiac disease community. Dr. Alessio Fasano was nice enough to take the time to let me interview him on the phone! Talking to people about the diet myself really helped me understand why I don’t eat Wonderbread or Oreo cookies.

I’m still working on eating healthy balanced meals – probably like lots of other college students out there. I enjoy fruits and vegetables, but I also love potato chips. And I’m not big on meat so I have to be forced to eat foods with more protein.
This summer I picked up a few gluten-free cookbooks so that I can: a) learn how to cook b) have more of a variety of foods while I’m at school and c) maintain a healthy gluten-free diet.

Maybe you can help. Have any recipes that you think I should try? Remember nothing too complicated! And I think to start I better stay away from meat because I don’t really like to touch it raw. (Maybe I’ll get over that!)

Also let me know if you or a college student you know have set any summer goals for the gluten-free diet. Or get in touch just to say hi. I’m excited that I have some time and place to get to know you!

  • Amy, I share your sentiment for striving to eat healthy and balanced meals on the gluten free diet while a college student. I have been doing the same for the past two years. In addition I am a fitness enthusiast, so I have to be equally diligent about my carb intake. It has not been easy. I press on and cheer others on in this quest. I, too, talk about my experience on my blog.

  • Amy, I share your sentiments for striving to eat healthy on the gluten free diet while a college student. I have been doing the same for the past two years. In addition I am a fitness enthusiast, so I have to be equally diligent with my carb intake. It has not been easy. I press on and cheer others on in this quest. I talk about my experience in my blog.

  • Amy, my son is 14 and only diagnosed with Celiac 18 months ago. I know he would like to go away to college. So far, he has been very compliant with his diet. How hard is the adjustment to college and did the school make any accommodations for you? Thanks!

  • Ktouton,

    I think that the earlier that you are diagnosed the easier it is to stick with the diet when you go away to school. The first few years will really be about learning the diet and by the time that he goes away to school he will be knowledgable about what he can and cannot eat, so that will make the transition to a lot easier. The difficulty of eating gluten-free at school varies depending on what school you decide to go to. Some schools make accommodations while larger schools may not. The school that I go to does not make any accommodations but I still find that I have a variety of foods that I can get at that are naturally gluten-free. I suggest talking to the nutritionist or dietician at all the schools that he eventually applies to to see how and if they will work with you. Personally, when I made my final decision for where I went to school I did not base it on food. When your son does choose a college he will have to decide how important food accommodations are to him and if it will impact where he wants to go.