Health


“Can I still be caffeinated?”

Being the college student that I am, this was one of the first questions I asked when I found out I would have to restrict my diet. My busy schedule didn’t allow much time for sleep, and I had become quite dependent on America’s favorite drug.

Lucky for me though (and the rest of you sleep-deprived people out there), caffeine can be enjoyed gluten-free in all of its most popular forms–coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks.

Have Your Coffee (And Drink it Too)
Considering I am probably responsible for half of Brazil’s coffee bean exports, you can imagine my excitement when I found out coffee, in its pure form, is gluten-free. (Yay!) However, this also means that ANY flavored, instant or decaffeinated coffees could potentially contain gluten. (Boo!)

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you have to order it “just black” for the rest of your life. All of Dunkin’ Donuts coffees, including the flavored ones, are gluten-free. Many local and organic coffee shops also brew flavored gluten-free coffees–just ask!

Tip: Be careful with commercial coffee. Although places like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee have gluten-free syrups, both warn of possible cross-contamination due to shared preparation materials with ingredients containing gluten. Coffee at public events/places should generally be avoided too, since it’s usually instant.

Tea Party!
Tea, like coffee, is gluten-free in its pure form. Once again, this means that any flavored tea could be dangerous. Although there are specialized gluten-free teas that can be purchased at health stores, I prefer the entirely gluten-free Celestial Seasonings. They have over 90 different varieties and can be purchased at any grocery store.

Continue the Carbonation
Surprisingly, many soft drinks are gluten-free. According to a list from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, 7-Up and A&W Root Beer are all gluten-free. I’ve also found that two of my favorite sodas, Squirt and Fresca, are gluten-free as well.

Tip: Just make sure you double-check the label, and always listen to your body; although the manufacturer may claim its soda is gluten-free, vague ingredients such as “natural flavor” or “flavors” leaves a lot of room for what those additives actually are.


Get Your Wiiiiiiings
Energy drinks are marvelous inventions. Thankfully, I can enjoy these inventions (and have many completed assignments to thank them for). Both Red Bull Energy Drink and Red Bull Sugarfree are gluten-free, as well as Rockstar Energy Drink. My favorite sugar-free source of caffeine, 5-hour Energy, is also gluten-free.

Preparation is key to staying gluten-free–with such a limited diet, you quickly learn to always pack your own gluten-free snacks and food so that you don’t have to go hungry and/or feel the wrath of your intestines later. But what happens when that snack is sitting forgotten on your kitchen counter and you’re so hungry your stomach is about to eat itself?

If you’re anything like 100 other million Americans, you’ll most likely look for food in the most convenient place:

Property of Nicole Lavella

the vending machine.

Although most write-off any gluten-free snack possibilities in a vending machine, I’ve forgotten my food enough times that I’ve discovered some of the hidden secerets of the on-the-go snack underworld. Here are some of the best gluten-free snacks I’ve found in a typical vending machine:

1. Nuts
Although I’d be weary of some pre-packaged peanuts, cashews, pistachios and pine nuts all make an ideal gluten-free high-protein snack. Planters Nuts & Chocolate Trail Mix is also a filling gluten-free choice that gives you a bit of variety–something any gluten-free goer can enjoy.

2. Chips
Contrary to popular belief, many chips are not off limits. Frito-Lay manufacturers several different chip brands that have been labeled “gluten-free.” Although Frito-Lay does have a warning of possible cross-contamination on its website, I’ve yet to have any issues with the Baked Lay’s Original Potato Crisps or the Fritos Original Corn Chips. Mission Tortilla chips have also been deemed “gluten-free” by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

3. Fruit Snacks
Both Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks Mixed Berry and Welch’s Fruit Snacks are two low-fat, relatively low-calorie snack options commonly found in vending machines. Although slightly high in sugar, these fruit snacks are high in Vitamin C and tide me over long enough until my next meal.

4. Candy
OK, OK…so candy isn’t the healthiest snack option. But just admit it; sometimes, there’s no curbing that urgent need to take a big, satisfying bite into your favorite candy bar. Lucky for us, lots of candies are gluten-free even if they don’t sport the label. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness updates an extensive gluten-free candy list every October, but some of my favorites include: Raisinets, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Sweet Tarts, M&M’s and even 3 Musketeers! Be careful though: any candy with a cookie component (Kit-Kat, Twix Bars, Whoppers etc.) are NOT gluten-free and should be avoided.

Although vending machines aren’t an ideal source of nutrition for anyone, gluten-free goers can utilize them. As with any prepackaged food, as long as labels are double-checked you too can find a satisfying snack behind the glass.