OPINION: Gluten allergic on campus, and hungry? So am I.


Photo by Channone Arif - Flickr CC BY 2.0

News flash: Bread contains gluten. Therefore, people like me cannot eat it. Gluten is also present in many other foods, and can be difficult to avoid.

Nick Minges

It’s hot. Sweat is pooling in the pits of my arms and the sun is beating down on my worn-out flesh.

My thoughts are circular, bordering on obsessive, and the audiobook I’m listening to in my earbuds is droning on. I can’t remember how long I’ve been walking and haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I’m hungry — voraciously hungry like an animal.

But there’s another issue as well: I’m not like most of you. Well, if you’re reading this, maybe I am like you. Ever since a couple of years ago when this started happening to me, I’ve felt myself to be not of this world, or at least not of this campus.

The problem is when I eat anything soft, doughy, chewy, or any other delectable adjective that can be thrown at foods containing the evil death-particle known as gluten, my skin erupts in these small, blotchy white spots, all over my body.

Disgusting, angry-looking and invasive aliens pave their way across my largest organ and broadcast themselves to the world on my most external regions.

It isn’t pretty. It doesn’t make me feel pretty. It makes my skin look like the ideal place to grow mushrooms.

My roommate says the same thing every time it happens: “It looks like you have ringworm everywhere.”

And worse yet, I’m writing for this newspaper now, and I occasionally must interview people for valuable information, and I’m worried about my alarming appearance.

I’m afraid that if I’m not careful, I might scare the most vital information right out of people’s minds before I can get it.

I’m also worried about what I’m going to eat for lunch. “But wait,” I think. “There’s probably some information about this online.”

The school’s dining page does contain some information about the eateries on campus, and there is a way to filter the dining options for certain dietary restrictions.

The interesting thing is that almost nothing changes when you click the “gluten-free” filter.

Ecogrounds Coffee is removed from the list. So is The Bagel Place (understandably enough), but that’s all that happens. Burger King, Panda Express and Round Table Pizza are still listed as options.

Panda Express’s website states that the company “does not have any vegetarian or gluten-free dishes.”

Round Table doesn’t have a different crust option and Burger King doesn’t have a gluten-free bun, though both offer overpriced, packaged salads and Burger King offers the option of a hamburger without a bun, rather than a gluten-free bun option.

Subway does have gluten-free bread, though. Of all the places I’ve tried so far, it’s one of the only ones that my body has been able to put up with.

Simply put, the information on Sacramento State’s website isn’t accurate enough to go on.

I hope that the page gets updated soon as to include useful information. Even if one of the eateries listed there does have an option I can eat, I have to find the menu myself or ask someone who works there.

So ultimately, if you’re looking for something gluten-free to eat on campus, you’re left with whatever gluten-free protein bars or packaged foods you can find (I really like Rx Bars, available in the Union Store).

Full-fledged meals that won’t make me break out are hard to find, so for now, I suggest to those like me that we keep doing what we do everywhere: ask before you purchase, and if you can’t bring food to campus, stay hungry.

Update: This article was updated to remove a reference to The Buzz appearing on the list of gluten-free options despite The Buzz no longer existing on campus. The restaurant appearing on the list is in fact The Buzz Express, located in Folsom Hall.