Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Victoria Kuebler, Managing Editor
Amanda Pattinson sat in the dining hall, eating a dinner plate with a slice of ham, peas and French fries. Nothing on Amanda’s plate contains gluten, which she goes out of her way to try to avoid.
Amanda, a junior genetic engineering major, suffers from a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. She sometimes finds it diffi- cult to eat in the dining hall because of the lack of gluten free dishes.
“It is difficult to find things to eat in the dining hall,” said Amanda, “It’s hard to find main course meals. They always have a vegetable I can eat but a lot of the meat is breaded and I can’t eat it if it’s breaded.”
Dining services is able to accommodate individuals with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or have a special diet by making special dishes.
“If students have any type of diet they just have to let me know,” said Michael
Dicenso, executive chef of dining services. Students can let dining services know through email or in person. Dicenso will let students know what to choose from the day’s menu or give them idea of special dishes that can be made.
“I don’t ask them to make me anything special because they have signs that tell me if there is gluten in a dish so I just chose from that,” said Amanda, “But downstairs [in the Falcon’s Nest], I’ll just ask them to make me something like grilled chicken.”
Celiac disease is a genetic disease which affects the way the body digests food con- taining gluten and is slightly more severe than gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in carbohydrate foods made of gliadin and glutenin, which give dough elasticity, shape and help it to rise.
Gluten is found most in breads, pasta, cookies, and foods containing wheat, barley or rye. Eating in the dining hall can be difficult but the dining hall menu’s state if dishes do or do not have gluten. The Acad- emy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends individuals with celiac disease develop a gluten-free diet.
According to University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, can develop throughout life. Individuals between 12 and 20 years old have a 27 per- cent chance of developing an autoimmune condition and individuals over 20 years old have a 34 percent chance of developing an autoimmune condition, according to the center.
Before individuals are diagnosed with celiac disease, they may experience abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhea or possibly irritability and depression if their body tries to continually digest gluten.
Kim Katsigianis, a senior psychology and criminal justice major, works part time as a waitress, is a full time student and lives off campus. She pays for her own meals, including shelling out extra cash to pay for gluten-free foods.
Gluten-free food is typically more expensive than gluten containing food. It may be unknown for individuals who have celiac disease that they can itemize the extra cost of having a gluten-free diet, which can be taken as a medical expense, and use it as a deduction on their taxes.
“I had no idea about this deduction,” said Kim, “But that’s awesome and I’ll definitely be looking into it.”
Individuals who have gluten intolerances or celiac disease are also at risk for other nutritional issues, such as calcium, iron or vitamin D deficiency. According to the Mayo Clinic, because of the damage gluten does to the small intestine, it can affect lactose and other nutrient absorption. The inability to absorb lactose, mostly found in dairy products, is called lactose intolerance.
“After removing gluten from my diet, it took a little while for my body to adjust,” said Kim, “A few months in [after being diagnosed with celiac disease] I was tested for other food allergies. I can no longer have dairy or soy either.”
Finding out about their gluten intolerance and celiac disease has really benefited Amanda and Kim’s over all well being and how they feel on a day to day basis.
“Since I’ve stopped eating gluten I have more energy and I sleep better,” said Aman- da, “I noticed a difference with my muscle and I feel like I can move easier. I don’t feel as bloated or gassy.”
“I felt extremely tired being on a gluten free diet for the first six months or so [because] I didn’t have a lot of other carbohy- drate sources,” said Kim, “It was definitely an adjustment going gluten free, but it was worth it.”