Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free at Uni

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Gluten Free Hannah.

Some of you may already know that I am a student at the University of Bristol and I have just started the second year of my Maths degree.

If you’ve read my Becoming Gluten Free post, then you’ll know that I have only recently become gluten intolerant. The diagnosis started back in May, and I had my endoscopy test in July, so this is my first time being gluten free whilst at uni.

Over summer I’ve been quite worried about how I’ll get on with it when I started back at uni. Here are my thoughts and discoveries about being a gluten free student.

Shopping

I live in a flat near the centre of Bristol and I don’t have a car. The local shops around me stock the basics of everything, but none of them are very big. I have found that the gluten free ranges are very limited and they all stock the same sort of things. Some of the things I want to get are only available in larger supermarkets, which I can’t get to easily.

Before I moved in, I did a big shop and bulk bought lots of essentials that have a long expiry dates on them, such as cereal, pasta, bread rolls and biscuits, and I have them in sealed crates stacked up in my bedroom.

I have found that M&S do a very good range of fresh options that none of the other supermarkets really cater for. Similarly, I went to M&S before I moved in and bought a lot of fresh food, like breaded chicken and a few ready meals, and I have frozen them as it seemed the most sensible thing to do. This is working out fine for now, until my supplies run out!

The other thing I’ve noticed in the smaller convenience stores, is that as well as the gluten free sections being relatively small, they aren’t restocked very often. I went to three different shops last week to find a pizza and ended up getting the very last pepperoni pizza in the third place – I don’t even like pepperoni pizza! Making my shopping trips coincide with a restock after a delivery is a skill I’m going to need to improve!

The obvious solution to this is to get an online delivery, however, each supermarket supplies different gluten free products, so I don’t know how useful it would be to get one delivery. On top of that, there’s the possibility that some of the products are out of stock and the things I want don’t actually get delivered. Living in a student flat with a shared kitchen also means that my storage facilities are somewhat limited.

Meals for One

Since coming back to Bristol, I have found it a lot easier to cook for one person. I have spent the summer at home with my family so most meals had at least 2 versions – a gluten free version for me, and a non-gluten free version for the rest of my family. This was quite challenging as it was a lot trickier to make sure there was no contamination, and that I had no own baking trays and toaster, and all the rest. It felt like some meals were quite a lot of effort.

However, living in my flat at uni means that I am only making meals for one, one gluten free person! I can make sure everything is gluten free without needing to worry as much about cross contamination from the second version of the meal.

Flatmates

My flatmates have been amazingly understanding about my gluten intolerance. They all knew a bit about gluten free diets and they have been very tolerant. For example, I brought my own toaster with me and made it clear that it couldn’t be contaminated with gluten bread. So far, there have been no issues and hopefully there won’t be any!

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Snacks

My final worry over summer was how much I was going to be able to buy on campus that would be suitable. And then I realised the easiest solution would be to make a packed lunch to take with me, along with plenty of snacks. I have perfected a variety of lunch time snacks, from rice salads and pasta salads, to sandwiches with DIY fruit pots. This way I can curb my hunger without the risk of eating gluten. I have got into the habit of filling my bag with snacks before I leave so I never go hungry.

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So, there it is, a few things I have found out from my first few weeks at university with a gluten intolerance.

Please share your experiences of being at school, university or work and needing gluten free food, I would love to know if you have any tips or tricks that would help!

Until next time,

Hannah x

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