College is a fun and enriching time for a lot of kids, but it can also be a challenging time, especially when it comes to staying healthy. There’s a reason the famed “freshman 15” is more than a myth, coming from someone who experienced those extra 15 or so pounds herself. For many students, it’s their first time being completely responsible for their meals, while at the same time living on a tight budget and not having access to their own kitchen or cooking tools. That’s a lot of challenges at one time! With the busy and irregular schedules that many college students have, who has time to search out healthy food, right? WRONG. Eating healthy isn’t just about spending all your free time at Whole Foods (nor is it for most of us non-college students!). It’s about a mindset just as much as it is about the action of putting food into your mouth.
One potential pitfall of going gluten-free can be to stop getting enough whole grains in your diet. Whole grains play an important part of a balanced diet, and when eaten regularly and in moderation, can be helpful in lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers due to their disease-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber. Once you cut out gluten-filled pasta and bread, it may seem like all hope would be lost for finding other tasty sources of whole grains. But fear not, the grains listed below are all gluten-free and contain way more health benefits than wheat, rye and barley. One of these grains in particular (you guessed it), quinoa, takes the cake for us, but more to come on that below.
Oats are a satisfying and fiber-rich grain which, in many cases, are used as a substitute for wheat in sweet snacks and breakfast foods. Pure oats are inherently gluten-free, as oat proteins differ from the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye which have a toxic effect on people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.