Gluten, something that seems to be found in everything from bread to soup. Yet, according to one in one hundred people have a gluten-related disorder, one being my roommate. Since moving in with my gluten-intolerant friend, I have become more aware of what food have gluten hidden in them. During a conversation with my roommate, she dared me to try eating gluten-free for a week, so that’s what I did.

Starting out I had no worries about what I was getting myself into. Before starting I read over Grand Valley State Universities’ Guide to Food Management and made a loose idea of what I could get each day with my 7+ meal plan. At this point, nothing seemed like it was going to be too challenging, but that quickly changed.


Jillian Ferry

Lunch: Lake Michigan Nutrition Tea Shake Combo

Rating: 7/10

I stopped at the all-to-popular Lake Michigan Nutrition for a fundraiser, not knowing if I was going to be able to have their shakes. To my surprise, they were able to make anything gluten-free as long as I wrote it on my order sheet. With this good news, I ordered their Frosted Animal Cookie Shake and Tea Special. Overall the tea was pretty normal sweet tea however, I could only make it through about half of the shake before I was full.

Dinner: 42nd Street Deli’s Grand Gobbler with Udi’s Hoagie 6”

Rating: 3/10

This was by far the worst meal I had all week. The sandwich consisted of turkey, lettuce, tomato and provolone, with added carrots and spinach. I wanted to see how the bread was without any dressing yet this was a big mistake. The hoagie was extremely dry and fell apart as I tried to eat it. I ended up taking the sandwich apart and eating its components individually. This was the moment the honeymoon phase of my gluten-free challenge was over.


Jillian Ferry

Breakfast: Fresh Food Company smoothie, eggs, Potatoes, yogurt with grapes

Rating: 6/10

I went to Fresh for the first time this semester with high hopes as it is advertised as the place where Grand Valley “strives to offer guests a variety of Made without Gluten options”. Although my first visit was disappointing. I was hoping to find a variety of gluten-free options but ended up getting confused and eating food that is naturally gluten-free.

The eggs, potatoes and yogurt were typical buffet foods. However, the smoothie was my favorite part maybe because It was the only food that I did not feel awful after consuming it or maybe it was that it was full fruit that students can not normally find on campus. Either way, the smoothie itself deserved a 10 out of 10.

Snack: Apple, Kind Bar

Rating: 10/10

This was the easiest meal all week. Even though breakfast was decently satisfying, before leaving Fresh I grabbed an apple for later. The apple and a Kind Bar from the POD Store in Mackinaw turned into my between-class snacks. This was extremely easy because the Kind Bars are all marked as certified gluten-free foods, and the Pod Store had a lot of options. I did not even have to think twice about what I was eating. 


Jillian Ferry

Lunch: Fresh Food Company Pizza

Rating: 9/10

This was the best meal I had all week. It was as easy as asking the pizza station for a gluten-free pizza and waiting for 10 minutes to receive a personal pizza. While it was not as good regular Oath Pizza, every time I went to Fresh I wanted this pizza again.


Jillian Ferry

Breakfast: Fresh Food Company Waffle

Rating: 8/10

I finally found the all magical allergens fridge in Fresh. It is located next to the allergen-free counter, that has specific appliances for anyone with allergies. In an effort to take full advantage of this I made a waffle with the premade waffle mix from the fridge. The taste and texture of the waffle surprised me. It tasted exactly like a normal waffle and seemed to stay together almost better than a normal waffle would, even with a bucket full of syrup on it. This was definitely the best gluten-free breakfast option that I found anywhere on campus.


Jillian Ferry

Lunch: Fresh Food Company Burger & Udi’s Blueberry Muffin

Rating: 5/10

My plan for Thursday was to give gluten-free bread a chance by getting a burger. After getting a burger and toppings from the normal burger station, I headed to the allergy fridge and was devastated when I realized there were no gluten-free buns left, however, I did find a blueberry muffin to try. I was underwhelmed by the lack of buns for my burger, but I was surprised about the muffin, although it was not the best muffin that I have had on campus, it tasted good and was not dry and crumbly. Overall this was not a bad meal. However, If I had really wanted a burger with a bun I would have been disappointed that I would need to find another option, thus this meal’s low rating.


Jillian Ferry

Dinner: Fresh Food Company Pasta

Rating: 4/10

Pasta, an Italian classic, a college student’s delicacy and one of my favorite foods. This pasta failed to meet any of those standards. Unlike the previous day, I checked the allergy-free fridge before ordering my food and thankfully it had lots of gluten-free penne. It was as easy as bringing it to the pasta station and ordering like usual. The pasta itself lacked pizzaz, it was gummy and flavorless. I ended up getting rid of this pasta and getting other food at Fresh because I dreaded eating the rest of my bowl.


Jillian Ferry

Lunch: Fresh Food Company Pizza

Rating: 9/10

As a way to close out my week of struggling to not eat gluten, I decided to try the pizza again to see if it lead up to its previous review, and it definitely did. It still tastes better than normal pizza, and I definitely see myself getting this in the future with my roommate.

Overall being gluten-free on campus is hard. This challenge really opened my eyes to the lack of gluten-free options and awareness on campus. Unlike vegan and vegetarian options, foods that are gluten-free are not labeled unless they come from the specific fridge in Fresh or are specifically asked for at 42nd Street Deli. Even then, the choices may be dull and you end up spending way more time in Fresh than the normal student. Unless you can be creative with meals, they can get boring really fast.

Adding to this, most gluten-free foods on campus are still prepared in areas where gluten is present. If you set on having a meal plan then I would recommend using a smaller plan and cooking more for yourself but in its current state, I would not recommend relying on GV Dining for all of your gluten-free meals.