Life StoryAug/Sep 2013 Issue

Lifestyle Q&A - College Party Scene

College Party Scene

Dear Issues,

I’m a guy in my junior year at the University of Texas, Austin. Everyone here gets what gluten-free is and I’ve managed to eat pretty well since starting school, despite having celiac disease. But after three years of navigating college life, I’m really, really, really, really tired of my friends throwing keggers. I know this is college. And sure, I bring a flask—but not only do I look weird, I’m still expected to chip in for the beer and pizza.

I’m so done with having to explain why I’m not drinking beer while I chat up a lady who’s pumping away at the keg. I’m so done with bringing my own booze while having to pay for beer I can’t drink. I can’t request a gluten-free keg, can I? Can I?

Signed, College Guy Not in Paradise

Dear College,

I send heartfelt condolences to you, the gluten-free college student. If I’d been diagnosed while I was kegging it up at the U., I probably (stupidly) would have been grateful for the weight loss and insisted on joining in at the spigot. This is not what you should do! You’re smarter than that, thank God.

Your confidence needs a little boost and your “I don’t give a crap-edness” needs a bigger one. Three years of beer blasts have pushed you to your limit—so take a break. I don’t mean curb your social life. I mean it’s time to take control of your environment. Ask one of those ladies at the spigot to go out to dinner with you at a celiac-friendly joint or make dinner for her at your place. This does not mean you stop hanging out with your friends. It means you stop centering your social life around a giant metal barrel. If you’re no longer a regular, people will stop hitting you up for money.

Quit dreaming about a gluten-free keg. Start making different choices on your Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Look for places where you’ll feel comfortable (well fed, well watered) and where there’s zero fear of a horribly embarrassing gluten reaction. Then party on–on your terms.

Rude Friends in the Kitchen

Dear Issues,

I’ve been working hard in my kitchen since I had to give up gluten and dairy. I’m now whipping up fabulous GFDF cookies and cupcakes. As one might do, I share my wins with my friends. Most are super-excited but one close friend always wrinkles her nose when “gluten-free” or “dairy-free” is even mentioned. In fact, she won’t even try what I’ve made, acting like it’s a fate worse than death. I feel like she’s being closed-minded. Should I just stop talking to her about my food?

Signed, Sweet but Healthy Tooth

Dear Sweet,

Those of us on special diets go through deprivation that people who can eat everything just don’t get. A lot of us (um, me) react by working incredibly hard to make damn good allergy-friendly cookies. One day your friends will appreciate the incredible effort you’re putting into creating delicious treats when they taste what else is out there.

But let’s talk about your friend. You can sit her down and ask why she’s so irritated or you can delete her from your guest list. You have to do what you have to do. I don’t mean to be a jerk—great friends are to be treasured. But having a food allergy or sensitivity shows you pretty quickly who your true friends are.

To play devil’s advocate, let’s say your GFDF treats are not all that. Let’s pretend for a moment that they taste average or below. A good friend says, “Oh, maybe with a sprinkling of cinnamon, these would rock.” A bad friend wrinkles her nose and refuses to sample. A good friend sends you safe recipes to try. A bad friend says, “Ugh! All GFDF stuff is crap! Blech!”

A lot of people will not understand your food issues. That’s normal. What’s not normal is a supposed friend being outwardly hostile. So maybe it’s time to reevaluate your “friendship” and share your baked goods only with those who will appreciate them.

April Peveteaux (glutenismybitch.wordpress.com) is the author of Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes & Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free.

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