Gluten Freedom, a university club created to promote awareness about living a gluten-free lifestyle, has a new club adviser who can provide students a chance to consult with a registered dietitian during club meetings.
Lauren Watson, who works at the Brown-Lupton Health Center, said she is serving as the new club adviser. She said she will attend meetings, answer any nutrition-related questions students may have and educate students about the gluten-free options available on campus.
“With careful planning, students can eat a nutritionally balanced gluten-free meal on campus,” Watson said. “They can come to me for a nutrition appointment or even meet with TCU Dining Services to learn more about gluten-free options.”
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation website, gluten is a protein that is found in grain, wheat, barley and rye. People who are sensitive to gluten can experience a variety of symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating and anemia.
The strongest form of gluten sensitivity is called celiac disease. If people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune systems respond by attacking and damaging the small intestine.
“Gluten is found in many foods such as breads, cereals, pastas and crackers,” Watson said. “Sometimes it can even be found in foods such as soups or sauces, so people following a gluten-free diet have to really pay attention to the ingredients in a product.”
Gluten Freedom's goal last semester was to create a variety of gluten-free options in Market Square, Sydney Cox, a sophomore entrepreneurial management major and club creator, said.
“Up until recently, the only safe food options at Market Square were fruit or salad, but now they are finally offering really good prepackaged gluten-free meals,” she said.
Watson said these new gluten-free meals usually include some form of protein, vegetable and non-gluten grain. She said they also offer sandwiches with gluten-free bread
Students can access these alternative meals by asking any Market Square staff member, she said.
During a Wednesday meeting, club members talked about their personal reasons for cutting gluten from their diets and the obstacles they have faced.
“I started having horrible stomach pain last spring and found out it was caused by a severe gluten allergy,” Kitty Bell, a junior history major and officer of Gluten Freedom, said. “My tongue would swell up when I ate gluten, so I had no choice but to cut it out of my diet completely.”
Sophomore nutrition major Mollie Richardson said that was her first time attending a Gluten Freedom meeting.
“I recently found out that I have a gluten allergy, and it’s been really hard trying to find food on campus that I can eat,” Richardson said. “I decided to come to the meeting to find out more information and just talk to other students who are dealing with the same problems.”
This semester, Gluten Freedom aims to increase the number of members and continue to make gluten-free eating easier at the university, Cox said.