Gluten Free Diets

Gluten-free diets are critically important to people with wheat allergies or Celiac Disease.  Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder affecting approximately .7% of the U.S. population, according to a University of Maryland Study in 2003, the largest of its kind.  Avoidance of gluten and cross-contact with gluten is very important, i.e. not eating food cooked or prepared on a grill, cutting board, or table touched by gluten breads and foods.

Gluten harms those with Celiac Disease by causing damage to the villi in the intestine; this results in hindered absorption of nutrients.  Damage is cumulative and permanent.  The disorder is not curable.

People with wheat allergies may have a reaction because gluten is the protein in wheat that triggers the reaction. Barley and rye also contain gluten that may or may not affect a person with a wheat allergy.  Oats do not contain gluten but are generally considered a food to avoid due to common cross-contact with glutinous grains in the way they are harvested and processed. There are certified gluten-free oats and Culinary Services purchases those where and when possible.

For a period, gluten-free diets were considered “healthy.” This is not actually the case.  What can be healthful is the avoidance of processed foods or desserts containing processed sugars or “empty” calories.  Gluten itself does not lead to weight gain or normal dietary problems in people without allergies or Celiac Disease.  Including healthy grains and fiber in your diet is important to your overall health if you are not restricted for actual medical reasons.

Here at Dickinson College we offer a number of gluten-free foods and provide a separate area of self-service with packaged and homemade, wrapped gluten-free foods.  But if you suffer from Celiac Disease, have a wheat allergy, or suffer from any other severe reactions to food allergens it is very important that you communicate with our supervisors and chefs before consuming foods.  And let our food servers know you have a food allergy or Celiac so they know to use separate cooking tools and dedicated cookware for your order. The only true allergen-free foods we offer are those we plate up individually in our kitchen's dedicated allergen-free preparation area.