Posted on | November 12, 2008 | 1 Comment
It has recently come to my attention that I’m not the only gluten-free casualty on Rider University’s campus. Actually, it was today at lunch that my good friend, Kevin, mentioned the name of someone else that has Celiac Disease. Though I could never say I was happy that this person should share in my suffering, it made me feel a little less alone. You know, I go to dinner and I’m stuck with questionable french fries and a questionable hot dog (without the bun, of course). I look around me and see full plates of at least halfway decent looking food. I’ve gotten over that jealousy, but every once in a while, I look over to their plates and sigh, just loudly enough that someone next to me might have heard it. It’s definitely not fun. And in thinking that I was the only one on campus with Celiac Disease, I didn’t think that I could change anything about Daly’s. People without the disease don’t understand just how easily we can be contaminated. They don’t know that they need separate cooking utilities for gluten-free foods so they don’t get cross-contaminated. They don’t understand how just one crumb can make us sick for days.
I thought Rider wouldn’t force Daly’s to change just for one student. With my meek little voice, I know I can’t change anything on my own. And people who don’t understand the severity of the disease don’t want to help. But now I know there are at least two of us here. I thought of going to Resident Life and demanding a kitchen, but perhaps there’s another option. Maybe we can educate Rider about Celiac Disease and what we need from Daly’s. We pay to go here and to eat at our dining hall. Isn’t it only fair that we should get just as much out if it as any other student? I mean, they don’t put out any ingredients, so that automatically puts me on the defense, and they don’t have many options to begin with. Seriously, everyday I go in, hoping there’s something good that I can eat. Most of the time there’s nothing good for anyone to eat. So I end up with the aforementioned questionable fries and a questionable hot dog without the bun. But I always still feel like crap. How’s that? Say it with me everyone: CROSS-CONTAMINATION!!!
I’ve decided that my winter project is going to be learning how to cook. I’m a terrible cook. I always guilt my mom into making me food. So I need to learn how to make delicious gluten-free meals for myself. I’ll be using recipes I’ve found in various blogs (most of which are on the list to the right) and variations that I’ll try on my own. Plus, I’ll be trying out various mixes that I’ve heard good things about (already found a good one for cupcakes). Anyone out there have any suggestions, feel free to comment! I’m really looking forward to learning how to cook for myself and be healthy again!
I think the feeling that I’m not alone in this has had a very positive affect on my outlook. After reading Shauna James Ahern’s book Gluten-Free Girl, I began to realize that I had a whole new world opened up to me. I would miss the old, but it wasn’t such a terrible thing. Once I get out of college and have a place with my own kitchen, I can finally be healthy. And with my mom and my grandma to help, everything will be just fine. I do think it’s imminent that those of us with Celiac Disease or other autoimmune disease need to get the word out, educate our peers and our community about our ailments. With more and more people being diagnosed with these diseases, we need to band together to get the world to accommodate us at long last. More and more restaurants are willing to make gluten-free menus (PF Chang’s for example). If more people know exactly what we need to stay healthy, they’ll make the changes, I think.
So, to my new gluten-free friend, I know things may seem a little grim right now, but with practice and help from other gluten-free casualties, everything will be just fine.