Kaitlyn Evernham is a freshman biology major who has celiac disease. The Brackety Ack sat down with her and asked some questions about how she navigates her condition on campus.
What is it like being gluten-free on campus? Is it noticeably easier or harder to eat gluten-free?
Being gluten-free in general is hard. Making adjustments to my first year of college is hard. When I combine them, it gets pretty stressful. I have to go against my own anxiety most of the time and talk to people I don’t really know to figure out what I can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
What are the challenges you face by being gluten-free on campus?
I can’t eat most things that my friends can, and that can be pretty hard when you have to watch your friends eat cake and pasta while you sit there and eat whatever else they made special for the gluten-free people. Another major challenge is the fact that people judge me. When I am standing to the side of the line waiting to ask for whatever is gluten-free in Commons, it is hard when someone walks up to me and asks “you must feel so high-maintenance being gluten-free and having food made special for you.” I wish I wasn’t gluten-free, and I am not gluten-free by choice. I hate knowing that certain people think that of me when in reality I am just waiting to get the food I can eat just like everyone else.
Have you talked to the dining staff about what you can eat in Commons, and what you can’t? If so, what did they say?
The dining hall staff is extremely helpful for any allergy there is out there, especially gluten-free. I walk into the Commons every day and the staff immediately recognize me and start grabbing gluten-free items or start making them.
What suggestions do you have for the college in regards to accommodating gluten-free students?
I suggest a drop-box for the different food allergies somewhere in the Commons for students to drop their food suggestions so the dining staff can look and maybe try making some of the items every once in a while. For example, I would really love a gluten-free cheesecake.
Do you have advice or suggestions for other gluten-free students?
My only advice would be to own it and be who you are. Who cares if people think you’re high-maintenance? Just do what you need to do to better your education, health, and anything else.