For many people maintaining a gluten-free diet, it is often a struggle to eat out in a college town. Local restaurants have began adopting larger menu options for this specific diet in Oxford, however. For over a year, Chick-fil-A has sold a gluten-free bun for an additional charge of $1.15. Local Chick-fil-A manager, Avery Miller, said approximately 15 specialty buns are sold a day.
“It’s usually the regulars who order them, because a lot of people don’t know they’re offered,” said Miller.
The chicken and bun come in separate packages, so some assembly is required.
“Order the grilled chicken if you’re wanting it without gluten,” said Miller. “The fried chicken is breaded.”
Brianna Sellars, a UM student who is recently gluten-free, described the bun as “rougher” in texture but similar in taste.
Some people feel healthier adopting a diet free of gluten without being diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that can attack the small intestines once gluten is consumed.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is often used to make common foods like bread, pizza, pasta, baked goods, and beer.
Sellars said she decided to cut gluten out of her diet after researching symptoms of gluten intolerance. Symptoms may include indigestion, fatigue, irritability, and even anxiety.
“I can tell a difference when I go days without it… I have more energy,” said Sellars. “But sometimes I cave and eat a pizza.”
Southern Craft Stove + Tap offers pizza on gluten-free dough. The restaurant also has a few gluten-free beer and cider options on draft.
Owner of Southern Craft and former location manager for Ole Miss Dining, Bubba Gross says anyone can eat at the restaurant.
“Gluten-free is another facet to bring to the menu so that we can include everyone,” said Gross.
Gross said he learned how to cater to certain dietary restrictions in culinary school, and while working for Ole Miss Dining, Gross would meet with celiac students on a monthly basis to go over new menu options.
“For people on campus it is really hard for them to find some gluten-free options,” said Gross.
Southern Craft also offers corn tortillas and lettuce wraps as a substitute for their tacos.
Corn is a whole grain containing a substance known as “corn gluten.” This may raise concerns, but is not the same harmful gluten that bothers people with Celiac or gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease affects one in 140 people in America and is commonly undiagnosed in young women.
Marcella Purtill has grown up not eating a lot of gluten, for her mother has celiac.
“My favorite GF meal is sushi,” said Purtill.
Purtill suggests that when eating at restaurant or shopping in the grocery store, to look for a “GF” label, meaning “gluten-free.”
“Unless it says it’s gluten-free, it’s safe to assume it’s not,” Purtill said.