Bethel is learning ways to adapt to the growing gluten-free population
Culture | Cherie Suonvieri for The Clarion
Sodexo Dining Services tries to accomodate students with gluten-free diets. | Erin Gallagher
Nowadays, one need not look far for help with creating a gluten-free diet. Many books, blogs, websites and even several magazines have been devoted to offering recipe ideas and cooking tips to assist the gluten-free consumer. While this diet is simply another fad for some, it has become a serious health requirement for others.
Gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—wasn’t a common term 15 years ago, but now the phrase “gluten-free” can be heard on a daily basis due to the increase in gluten-sensitive individuals. Based on a study conducted by Joseph A. Murray, M.D., one in every 141 people are affected by Celiac Disease—a digestive condition triggered by gluten.
This sudden eruption of gluten sensitivity leads some to wonder if Celiac Disease is truly becoming more common, or if it has been previously present, and imply misdiagnosed or unrecognized. According to the Mayo Clinic website, the disease has, in fact, become more prevalent. A study was conducted using blood samples from the 1950s that were preserved in a U.S. database, and researchers concluded that antibodies associated with the disease occur four times as often in the blood samples from today.
Celiac Disease and other forms of gluten sensitivity, such as allergies, are making themselves prominent among the country’s population, and those statistics do not exclude young adults. Living on a college campus with specific dietary needs can present itself as a challenge to students. Fortunately, Sodexo provides gluten-free options at the Monson Dining Center, the 3900 Grill, and Royal Grounds.
Elyssa Sheard, a Bethel junior, is allergic to gluten and has found the staff in the Dining Center to be very accommodating.
“If you have the time, they’re always willing to fix you pretty much whatever you want,” she said.
The Dining Center caters to the students’ needs by making gluten-free options available by request at every line.“The best gluten-free thing that they offer is the cookies,” said Sheard.
There will be a review offered on gluten-free dietary meal options on Wednesday Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Monson Dining Center. Bethel’s Executive Head Chef Justin will explain the dietary format at the different stations in the Dining Center. Any students interested in learning more about these gluten-free options are welcome to attend.