How is he going to feed himself?


My 17 year old son was a literally diagnosed today with celiac disease. We have an appointment in about a month to see a dietitian to learn more about how to cook better. I ran to the nearest Kroger and spent $130 and everything I could find that said gluten-free + vegetables fruit and meats. We are a family of 5 and I find that it’s going to cost a lot of money to change eating habits for all of us. And I still don’t want to load him full of gluten-free processed foods. Unfortunately looking at what I bought today vs the cost and with him starting College this fall (away from home), how is he going to feed himself while away with not being able to really cook? I guess I’m looking for ideas for what are quick go to foods, still healthy, still GF, for people constantly on-the-go, with a busy life like college with no real way to have a home cooked meal and not break the bank?

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Veronica 4 years 49 Answers 1000 views 0

Answers ( 49 )

  1. My son is 16, we are looking at colleges right now. It looks like you have lots of suggestions on here but pm me if you want to talk. It’s hard for boys that age, but we are navigating it well by now. It’s been two years.

  2. I am 20 and in college. I’m in 7 classes plus work a lot of hours. I was diagnosed 9 months ago and now eat Paleo. I do a lot of cooking and meal prep. It’s doable but takes time getting used to. Make it your normal and he will be fine! I also don’t drink or go out. My boyfriend and I have been together 5 years now and that’s not our thing so that part isn’t an issue.

  3. It is overwhelming at first and has a learning curve. My son was diagnosed at 16 in 2016. Be very careful with the GF items some of the processed items inject tons of sugar into them to make taste good. We avoid most but have some go to on hand for a busy high school boy. Aldi is good for GF noodles and GF bars. We purchase many items on (they always have coupon codes). Just placed an order last night as they had 20% off food items. Pamela’s pancake mix is the best. We tried all of them. Costco has good GF pizza that we doctor up. Baby steps you will figure it out.

  4. Thought I would mention…chick fil a (grilled chicken and fries), chipotle and Five Guys are excellent go to’s for my son. Also, Culver’s if you have one close by. I have a gluten free guide, I just sent it to you. People ask about gf all the time so I put together a quick guide on favorite brands, etc.

  5. All meats unseasoned fresh fruits and veggies are safe

  6. First, go to the University of Chicago celiac center website and read everything you can there. It’s the best information. Sign him up for the care package for newly diagnosed. As far as college, call and speak to the food manager/director. Most colleges can accommodate, even the smallest. Some, like UConn, have entire food areas for gluten free. It’s manageable. He will learn to speak up and manage this in time.

  7. Just sent you a pm and friend request Veronica Wilcynski

  8. Hopefully you have 6months- year to show him different gluten free ways to eat. It is a life change, and hard especially when going through college, with kids going out to eat and drinking. Still both doable but have to be a little more cautious. You may also have to talk to him about avoiding beer because of the gluten….I was the same way, didn’t really have symptoms except anemic. Now that I’m healing and I get exposed on accident, I need a toilet next to me for like the next 3 days straight. Amy’s, lean cuisine makes gluten free microwaveable meals, costco makes a big bag of gluten free chicken nuggets, rice is great and cheap. Canned chicken is gluten free. Chili, pre prepped brown sugar/maple oatmeal packets. Fruity Pebbles are delicious and gf! lol Definitely see about food court and what they will have from options for him if he buys a meal plan. I would for sure say learn as much for yourself and teach him as much as possible about why he will need to eat this way. Since he is a kid and not interested, this is normal! He can do this and so can you! Goodluck!

  9. Yes definetly go to univ of Chicago site!! And colleges have to have gluten free foods for him if he is living on campus.

  10. My daughter, 17, was diagnosed in September. A huge part of her college decision has been based on whether the dining hall can provide her gluten-free options or not. The school that I believe she will be picking is small with only 600 students and I have talked to the dining hall and they have assured me that they will get to know her and her schedule and have food ready for her when she comes. She is also vegetarian so it makes things a little more complicated. Good luck to you in this endeavor!

  11. Annie’s gluten free Mac and cheese is good, fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats without any additives, barilla gf pasta, Chex cereals, I try to avoid a lot of baked goods.
    It’s doable. Try to opt for foods that are naturally gf instead of loading up on gf alternatives

  12. So pretty much all unprocessed meats, veggies and fruit are safe. Make stir fries, roasts, we make chicken enchiladas with corn tortillas. It just takes a little time to get the hang of it. I’d definitely say he needs top learn to cook. An instant pot might be a good going off to college gift. I love mine. It can sauteed, slow cook, pressure cook, and make yogurt. He could set it and forget It, or make something in under 30 minutes.

  13. FIRST!!!! BREATHE!!! BREATE!!! You got this.. you came here…. I will look over what others said, and then I will see if i can think of any other suggestions i can think of

  14. My son is not allowed any items with a heating element (no coffee pot, hot plate, instant pot, crock pot)… He can take a Keurig, microwave)… \n\nStart small though.. What you need to decide first, is how gluten free your house will be at this point. Will you cook family meals everyone can eat, but not convert the house GF (since he will be leaving in August). Start simple.. fresh fruits and meats..and chicken.. \n\nhe will need a new toaster for his bread, new wooden spoons, plastic utensils, cannot use scratch teflon pans (stainless steel/glass ok)…

  15. Taco’s, Hamburgers w/o the bun, chicken parm grilled, meatloaf using gluten free bread, bread from Costco ($10 for 2 loaves of Udi’s). Cheerios or Chex. Potatoes, Rice, Meat and Veggies are all gluten free….and Chipotle will be your fast food take out of choice, Rotisserie Chickens and Red Robin….Just a few ideas….

  16. Also, ask the college that he is going to how they handle the situation. He is not the first Celiac to go away to college… you can do this….I know it is scary, my daughter and I both went gluten-free 4 years ago and we are better for it. Not always easy, but he could always eat a baked potato from Wendys, a rice bowl from Chipotle, and grilled chicken breast from McDonald’s….there are options… you just need to familiarize yourself with them. 🙂

  17. Veronica, what are some of his favorite snacks, and meals…. (full recipe)… let us help you convert a few ….. so that you can slowly start to feel normal about this.. \nspices need to be checked… Open containers of sugar, baking powder, etc cannot be used for him. Because if you are like most of us, the chances of CC from prior baking definitely exists.

  18. Some tools have been helpful for family and college cooking: We have an electric griddle and use it for Quesadillas on gf corn tortillas – basically grilled chicken, grilled peppers and onions, shredded cheese. My son had a George Foreman grill in his college apartment kitchen, used it almost every day. At home, try Beef stew, using cornstarch to dredge the meat before browning it, then toss into the crockpot. We roast lots of veggies – a cookie sheet, lightly coat the veggies in olive oil, oven at 350 +/-, maybe turning them a bit as they brown. Peeled whole carrots, red potato chunks, sweet potato chunks, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, onions, asparagus – whatever is in season and cheap. We buy big bags of chicken breasts at warehouse stores and cook extra at dinner to use for lunches. Homemade soups – gf chicken or veggie broth, toss in frozen veggies or leftover roasted veggies, leftover chicken, maybe rice. I got a very inexpensive small rice cooker, a great time and effort saver. Also cooks grains like quinoa (although my family is not a fan of that grain) GF is a bit more work, but so healthy in the long run. Good luck – you can do it!

  19. Hi Veronica, I was just diagnosed and I’m in my second year of college. Unfortunately, I have to cook almost every meal since my stomach is so sensitive. I’ve learned that the beginning is the most expensive with buying all the spices and mixes, etc. However, I am lucky enough to live in a house with a kitchen now. So, after I spent a high budget on the basics, now my most expensive thing is buying meat to cook every week or so. I typically make homemade fried rice with chicken or beef (leftovers the next day, or freeze it and take it out when I have to study and can’t cook the next day). I also use GF pasta and make Alfredo. I’ve found the Perdue brand of gluten free chicken nuggets at Publix and they only take a few minutes in the microwave or oven. They are pretty yummy with ketchup. For breakfast, I typically eat some cereal or gluten free waffles (make sure he has his own dedicated toaster). Quinoa is starting to be my best friend. I know he probably won’t check recipes on Pinterest, but I have found so many! It might help him to have you put together a recipe book. I’ve made my own. I use a crock pot also and make soups, potatoes, pot roast, etc. A lot of celiacs eat almonds and vegetables a lot. I try when I can. My family pays for a monthly subscription from “Love With Food” so every month I get a snack box of all GF snacks and two meals are donated towards feeding children. I like that subscription box because I get to try different types of snacks that I probably wouldn’t just go buy while shopping. It helped me learn what kind of GF snacks I like and what I don’t (it’s also for a good cause). But I also get the gluten free fig bars, popcorn, and corn tortilla chips for snacks. I was told by my dietitian that since it is a medical disease (disability through the university) that I can be exempt from purchasing the meal plan, even on campus if there was no kitchen in my dorm. I highly advise to look into what his accommodations can possibly be. I’m not going to lie, it has been very difficult for me to learn this all without my family here and while being enrolled in school. But on the brought side, I’m on my way to being a professional chef, and spreading awareness to help others. This is probably one of the biggest learning curves for someone to transition to. Please feel free to message me with any questions! And good luck with everything!

  20. George foreman grill for the dorm do grill chicken steak and fish. Get a hot pot for ramen Costco has these great ramen noodles you can mix stuff with. Cafe I’m sure has veggies and meat. I would call school and ask.

  21. Our diet is simple, healthy, gf and not expensive. Fresh veg, fruit, dairy, lean meats and fish, quinoa (and similar) and eggs. Pasta, cornbread, buckwheat cakes. We filter our water. $250 a week for 2 people and we eat really well. Stay away from processed foods.

  22. If he has a way to cook hamburger. Tacos or nacho salad on Tostitos is my favorite quick go to meal.

  23. Follow the FB page Gluten Free on a Shoe String as well

  24. Hi! I’m a college student who was recently diagnosed. I won’t lie, it isn’t easy and I live off campus so I do have a kitchen. A lot of schools are accommodating, mine has a website where I click allergic to gluten and I get a list of all gluten free options. He may be able to bypass living in a dorm because of the dietary restriction, but most people want that experience. I eat a lot of jerky when I’m on the go between classes, and nuts and fruit. Maybe look to see if there are dorms that have kitchens on the floors or in the basement, mine had one on the floor which was helpful. Feel free to dm me!

  25. First of all sorry! We went through this with my son and now my daughter. It is difficult but can be done at college. Call food/ health services and talk about celiac- they not only need the options but you want a separate cooking area. He cannot be glutened because of cross contamination every day. My son at least starts with a protein shake and then has other things( he had lost a ton of weight at diagnosis) . I order protein bars and other snacks in bulk online so he has easy options when snacking. Yogurt, pudding are other easy finds. I bought my son a rice cooker and he loves to do rice and chicken…he can put broccoli in also. Potatoes can be made in microwave in dorm room . He loves Chex cereals that are gf. We buy turkey ham in prepackaged cartons at grocery- he can put in gf bread or my son likes wraps or tortillas. Salads and other fruit are great but watch at salad bar so no cross contamination. Maybe have the cafeteria check into this-he May be able to have his made first. Have him get the gluten free scanner app on his phone(pay the 5$ for the better one). Also get the app find me gluten free- look for celiac friendly restaurants with a separate cooking area for gf.

  26. microwave and minifridge for dorm room. He can make potatoes and top with canned gf chili, sour cream, etc. Quessadillas made with almond flour tortillas. (we like Siete brand). GF hotdogs (ok not healthy), canned tuna ( in moderation) , gf lunchmeats, yogurt, gf oatmeal, cheeses, even frozen gf pizza on occasion, salads, smoothies (maybe bring a nutribullet) , Belle & Evans sells a box of frozen gf precooked chicken breasts, gf soups, fruit, nuts. If there is a natural food store near campus that will be good for specialty items.

  27. Great ideas

  28. Crock pot can fix a few things in. Baked potatoes are great in crock pot. They have small double and triple ones now.

  29. You’ll also need to talk to him about beer basically being poison for him. There is usually a lot of it at college parties, and often not much else.

  30. If he has hot plate or an electric griddle he can make these very easily.

  31. My quick and easy go to is a loaded baked potato with melted cheese and vegetables. Yum

  32. Auldi has some gluten free options and it’s way cheaper than most stores. You can do grilled meats ( but watch some seasonings ) and fresh fruits and vegetables. That would be gluten free and a healthy option for the whole family. Some places even have gluten free buns

  33. I eat kale salads, wraps with kale or veggie burger. Dairy free gluten free pizzas, or I eat tons of veggies. I stock up on Larabars and Purely Elizabeth granola. I work FT and also go to college and travel often. It can be tricky, but it’s manageable.

  34. We added in shakes and other nutritional supplements to our diets (my daughter has celiac). They are all GF. Let me know if you want info. Great on the go and not too expensive.

  35. Unfortunately since it’s so expensive I cook separate for my kid and spouse a lot of work but gluten free stuff is so expensive

  36. I’m a student, I eat a lot of baked potatoes, chicken korma, and gluten free pasta with different sauces and veggies. I also get gluten free fish fingers, and have regular sandwiches on gluten free bread

  37. I just tried this for lunch and it’s really good.

  38. I have some experience with cooking meals for a family when on my one or two have Celiac Disease. I have a soon to be 17 yr old who does not have CD , but my daughter and I do. Most dinners are 100% gluten free, but some are both. Like making gf grilled cheese is too expensive for 5 people, when only 2 have CD. So I’ll make the gf ones first then make the regular. I have two different pans for such a reason. I’ll also do that with French toast. First that gf ones then the regular. Stuff, like spaghetti, I was doing both gf noodles and regular noodles but the day that regular noodle water was boiling and splashed into that gf noodles is the day I decided I was only make gf noodles. If I can help at all, just shoot me a message. I’m kind of a newbie myself, only on my 3rd year of being gf

  39. Aldi has gf food and they have great prices

  40. Boiled eggs always ready to grab in my fridge. Celery and almond butter very filling.

  41. It really isn’t to much more of a cost, you can modify a lot of your normal dishes to GF dishes. Aldis sells GF items at a low price. And so does walmart. It’s more the breads or frozen pizza that will be the priceast.

  42. He can apply for assistance, if needed or work. It can be cheaper by cutting out breads, pastas, and cereals

  43. I don’t buy gf “stuff” but cook without gluten for family. Changing to whole food with no “junk” or artificial ingredients has been good for all of us! And I think I save $ not eating out or buying pre-made foods

  44. There are single serving frozen gf meals you can microwave.

  45. Rice, potatoes, GF pasta, frozen veg, canned beans, eggs, GF oatmeal, Chex, popcorn. These are the basics that we live off of.

  46. My son was dx his sophomore year of college after 11 long years of trying to figure out what was wrong. He didn’t take it too seriously the first year, eating at times things with gluten, then feeling horrible again. He finally accepted the fact he has celiac and made lifestyle changes. He feels so much better now, eats out only now and then,has Become a good cook, has good days and not so much on this journey. Colleges are not doing enough, examples not having enough gluten free choice on campus, and he addressed this. He was an intern last year with the National and Middle TN celiac support group…he did research and interviews on campus with the food department and others looking for ideas for improving this. He hopes to continue some of this although he graduated in Dec. (he is in graduate school now!). His blog is in process also… . Your son will do well once he accepts this new reality, grieves and then moves forward…best to him and you!

  47. Veronica, even as an adult, GF self care can be daunting. I commend you for reaching out to this group for help. Everyone here is so open and loving in their giving. I’ve learned way more than any nutritionist has provided me in dealing with my multiple dietary issues – gluten being one of them but probably the most every day today life impactful.

  48. Ok I’m slowly taking in all this info. What about tooth paste, deodorant, cologne, body wash, shampoo?Can dishes all be all washed in dishwasher together? What about laundry and laundry soap? We’re so not gluten-free yet but trying to get there.

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