Your first Fresher’s Week can be very daunting, even if you’re not a Coeliac! Here are some tips to help you navigate the first week, stay healthy and still have fun!
I was lucky in some ways to not be diagnosed until my second year of my undergraduate degree. I knew what to expect of Fresher’s Week and could avoid any tempting or potentially risky situations.
Don’t cave to peer pressure with gluten alcohol – a large part of Fresher’s Week for some people is drinking and clubbing. If you know you’re likely to be tempted by gluten containing alcohol such as beer, make sure you have safe pre-drinks available. Be aware that some cheap mixers such as coke may contain barley as a sweetener. Cider is nearly always a safe bet, but if in doubt, don’t drink in the clubs or SU. There’s nothing worse than a hangover AND a glutening at the same time.
Look after yourself to avoid Fresher’s Flu – the biggest mistake a lot of Freshers make is to party too hard and eat rubbish. With all the new people mixing, Fresher’s Flu quickly spreads around halls and so taking care of your health during the first few weeks is crucial to aiding your immune system. This even more pertinent for Coeliacs – as with any chronic condition, your immune system may be weak. Consider taking some multivitamins, or if you have a history of poor immunity, talk to the on campus doctor. Some Coeliacs are automatically offered the flu jab, although there are pros and cons to this. Be sure to talk to your doctor, but firstly make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep.
Make the most of the freebies whilst avoiding gluten – during my first Fresher’s Week I had free pizza, cakes, sweets and sandwiches hoisted on. Whilst this was a great novelty the first time, once I was diagnosed Coeliac it become an annoyance. Remember that there are lots of other freebies to take advantage of during the fayres and don’t be tempted to take the gluten! For example, in my second year I got several packets of post-its which I still use now (3 years later!), a memory stick, free stickers, some second hand books from the English department (Treasure Island and a grammar book), plus some kitchen bits from Wilko (a wooden spoon and a spatula). You don’t need to feel like you’re missing out on free items just because you can’t eat the free food!
Talk to your new flatmates about cross contamination. You may find them understanding. Make sure you have everything set up to minimise the risks of being glutened in your new flat.
Prepare for any first society meetings by getting snacks. Lots of university societies provide snacks for the first meetings that might not be safe. Be prepared for this and buy your own safe snacks to take with you.
Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.
Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA
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