By: Lauren Wanless '17
Whether it is an allergy or a personal choice, gluten-free diets are more popular than ever. Celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed, affects one in every 133 Americans. There is no medical cure for celiac disease, but those affected must follow a 100% gluten-free diet in order to fully alleviate the symptoms. Others who adhere to this diet choose to because of the belief that it will cause weight loss and overall better health.
Because of this, members of the Saint Anselm College community decided to gather everyone who wanted to have an input about the food options on campus for those who need, or want, to be on such a strict diet and created the Gluten-Free Club. At meetings, the group talks about what it is like to eat gluten-free at school and how they can improve and broaden their food options.
The club’s Vice President Canada Stewart explains, “The dining halls are tough when it comes to allergies so we decide what people like and don’t like in Davison and the Coffee Shop and try to fix it”. Already, the campus-wide gluten-free options consist of special pastas, breads, pastries, and more, many of which are made to order. There are also naturally gluten-free choices on the menu that are available without a special request. These items are marked with either the abbreviation “MGF”, for “made without gluten”, or “GF”, meaning “gluten-free”.
Although the gluten-free options on campus are improving, eating out at restaurants poses another a challenge. Many times, the options are not as laid out or as readily available as they are in Davison. Stewart discusses how the Gluten-Free Club works together to overcome this obstacle: “We talk about places around Manchester that have gluten-free options to help each other out”. Today, these types of restaurants are becoming more and more popular. Due to the growing gluten-free community, restaurants saw a 29% increase in the number of menu items made without gluten from 2012-2013.
The Gluten-Free Club is working to participate in preexisting events or even set up their own events on campus in order to spread the word about their club and the gluten-free community in general. With the growing number of gluten-free students at Saint Anselm College, the club hopes to gather opinions, ideas, and support from everyone participating in the gluten-free lifestyle.