If you have a severe food allergy, you’re probably used to not having the best dining options. The person allergic to peanuts is used to not being able to have the peanut butter cookies for dessert. The lactose intolerant person knows to get the sorbet if their group goes out for ice cream and the gluten-free person asks for a burger with a lettuce wrap at In and Out. We know how to adjust. Since being gluten-free for the past few years, I’ve learned to roll with it. Do my friends want Whataburger? That’s fine; I’ll get french fries. Are we going out for pizza? If they don’t have a gluten-free crust, I’ll just get a salad. It’s pretty simple, for the most part, to avoid gluten.
Since coming to college, I’ve been on a dining plan. My dorm has pretty good gluten-free options. There’s always gluten=free bread for toast or sandwiches, and on pancake day, they whip up some gluten-free pancakes (usually). Some meals don’t have a gluten-free option which is frustrating if I’m in the mood for an actual meal, not just a sandwich, or if the meal is really good and I can’t have it, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. This was my mindset until my friends without dietary restrictions began to pity me.
My friends got frustrated with my lack of dining options before I did. They began to say things like: “What do you mean they didn’t have a gluten-free option today?”, “Why wouldn’t that restaurant have gluten-free options? It’s so common now,” and “That sucks that you never get to have the dessert.” Eventually, after listening to all their pity comments, I became a little frustrated. I pay the exact same amount for my dining plan as they do, but I probably have half of the options they do. There are four types of bread and four types of bagels for them every day. I have one. They can choose between ravioli, spaghetti, or penne on past nights, while I get the same gluten-free pasta that’s never cooked right and always a bit stiff and cold. I truly appreciate the options that I have, especially compared to the options five years ago, but still, it would be nice to have at least close to the same amount of options as everyone else.
Gluten-free food often costs more than the regular options, which is fine. I understand that the products can be more expensive and difficult to obtain, but it’s just ridiculous at times. For example, I used to get chicken fried rice from a place that charged an extra $5 for gluten-free. Want to know what they did to make it gluten-free? They just didn’t add soy sauce. So I paid $5 for them to remove an ingredient.
Let me reiterate: I am so grateful for the options that I do have. When people go out of their way to make sure I have something to eat it means the world to me. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful because I’m not. I just want to be able to have a hot meal option for every meal at the dorm, where I pay for a hot meal option at every meal, and I don’t want to have to pay so much extra for a simple modification.
Featured Image By Allison Geddie