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Dealing with the "Great Pretenders"

Gus Wellin ’11 and Colten McCormick ’12 head the gluten-free club, which is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support for students who face the challenges of eating a completely gluten-free diet. The club has grown to 50 members and hosts activities such as welcoming a guest chef to campus to bake gluten-free treats.

Their latest guest chef was Pamela Wellin who, after her son was diagnosed, began a small gluten-free cookie business. The cookies can be purchased in the Koch Café and the Greer Store.

Celiac disease, nicknamed “the great pretender,” and gluten intolerance are currently two of the most under-diagnosed conditions. They prevent nearly three million Americans from digesting wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. Most symptoms are mild and can range from stomach aches to vitamin deficiencies to fatigue. Ignoring the disease can result in stunted growth or extreme weight loss.

Eight students on campus have been diagnosed with either Celiac disease or gluten intolerance and regularly take advantage of the dining hall’s gluten-free options.

“Statistically, that number should be higher,” said Director of Food Services Florrie Paige. For two years the dining hall has strived to provide comparable and tasty gluten-free substitutes for every meal.

“The dining hall does a really fabulous job of letting us know what we can eat and providing it for us,” said Elyse Curtis ’12.

Dining Hall Production Manager Roger Doiron has spent the past two years experimenting with more and more gluten free options as they become available. Both Mr. Doiron and Mrs. Paige would like to encourage students with these dietary challenges to feel comfortable taking advantage of the options available here.

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