I was diagnosed with coeliac disease whilst I was as university. I was living away from home, in student halls, sharing a kitchen with 7 other people – a cross contamination nightmare! After the initial shock, and adapting to my new diagnosis, I soon discovered that it is possible to still enjoy university life whilst being gluten free and even live safely in a shared kitchen. Here are my top tips:
1. Tell people
If, like me, you’re sharing a kitchen, then it’s really important to let your flatmates know how important it is not to mix their foodstuffs with yours and not to use your utensils! If you tell them how even a crumb has the potential to make you ill, it might make them more thoughtful when preparing food and cleaning up after themselves. Also, tell your friends at university so they know that you have a medical condition and don’t just come across as fussy.
2. Get some gluten free kit!
Toastie bags will be your best friend and tin foil is fantastic for putting on oven shelves. Make sure you keep your food and utensils separately from everyone else’s and ensure it isn’t below the toaster!
3. Cook from scratch
Gluten free products are, unfortunately, very expensive, and they’re never on offer – not ideal for the student lifestyle. However, some of the products in the gluten free section are a bit of a con. The majority of pasta, curry and table sauces are normally gluten free so there is really no need to buy special versions. Even better, you could make them from scratch, much tastier, cheaper and healthier. Slow cooking is good for using up older vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat, thickening with gravy granules (I use Bisto Best). Knorr stock pots are also great for adding flavour or mixing with rice dishes.
4. Yes you can still get a takeaway
Domino’s do a gluten free pizza! Its only a small, but if you’re hungry you could alway get two – there’s usually some great student deals online. Contact your local takeaways and you might be surprised at how much they offer that is gluten free. I have found some great Indian and Thai takeaways that adapt their meals for me.
5. Pack snacks
My university campus had a very limited selection of gluten free foods so I usually prepared a salad or sandwich for my lunch. I always had some gluten free snacks in my bag in case I couldn’t find anything to eat and in case of any unplanned late stays in the library (not often!)
6. Find the best cheap eats
Students often have a limited budget for eating out so you may not have much of a choice as to where you go to eat, but you won’t want to make a fuss in front of your new friends. Nando’s are great for gluten free and McDonalds chips are always a winner! Contact restaurants in advance to check if they’re suitable and once you’ve tried them out, build up a list of you’re favourite places to go so that you can make suggestions you know are safe when someone invites you out for food.
I hope you have found this post helpful and would love to hear from you if you have any other tips you would like to share.