19Mar

It costs a LOT more to feed an allergic person than it does for those with no allergies. And I’m not just talking about the increased cost of freefrom food, although some of it is very expensive compared to its normal alternatives.

There are numerous reasons for this, including increased manufacturing costs, special training for staff, limited production times, expensive ingredients, complex ingredients, specilised storage to avoid cross contamination and the smaller quantities needed meaning less economies of scale. I understand all this but it’s also the reason why I often eat stale bread.

That is a bit of an over statement. I usually buy lovely Rye bread from The Village Bakery or Artisan Bread Company wheat and gluten free bread in bulk because it has no nasties and I can freeze it to ensure I always have fresh bread.

I don’t really like the mould inhibitors, bulkers, xanthan gums etc. in mainstream gluten free breads. To much of this kind of bread doesn’t agree with me at all, but I can eat it in moderation, when I’m stuck for options.

So what I also do, when I haven’t been prepared to buy the special bread on the internet or get it out of the freezer, is buy freefrom bread from the supermarkets. I don’t do this often, but I often spy a bargain loaf that’s been reduced to 80p!

The idea for this blog came from a passing jokey comment by my good friend Clare, who is incensed that at work I always have to bring in my own milk, snacks, food, lunch etc. when the rest of the staff can enjoy the milk supplied by the company, biscuits and cakes etc. I can’t do this because I’m allergic.

She was fighting my cause last week, largely to no avail and she said,

“It’s not fair, she even has to eat stale bread because a fresh gluten free loaf costs £3.50 for something half the size of a normal loaf.”

She’s right, and has often been flabbergasted at the prices I will pay for a fresh Warburtons NewBurn Bakehouse gluten free Sourdough loaf, which is pretty good as it happens, but not cheap.

So when these are reduced I often can’t help myself from taking the easy lunch option and having sandwiches for a few days like ‘normal’ people when I can’t be arsed to make my own salads, remember soup from the freezer or microwave a jacket potato.

She has seen me do this a number of times and feels my pain.

Because at every turn life as an allergic person is more expensive.

  1. FreeFrom costs more due to how it’s made etc.
  2. FreeFrom food is often more expensive than it needs to be – some companies whack on a premium because they know we don’t have so much choice.
  3. The steak (my freefrom fail safe meal) often comes with a supplement and is rarely on the set menu. It’s nearly always the most expensive option on the menu.
  4. I bring in my own milk to the office, unlike my colleagues who don’t give this a moment’s thought.
  5. I bring in my own margerine which gets nicked by colleagues, but I can’t ever borrow butter or marg from others due to my dairy allergy. Not to mention crumbs left by someone’s toast, meaning I’m scared to eat my own special spread due to cross contamination…
  6. I buy special salad dressing, which costs more. I don’t mind sharing this, especially if someone asks me, but it can get used up very quickly if I forget to take it home with me. It’s human nature, to snaffle a bit, but I can rarely share salad dressing with anyone else.
  7. I can also rarely share jams or honey etc. due to buttery knife double dipping.
  8. No I can’t eat your chocolate, biscuits, cake…
  9. Even the birthday cake the office bought me was totally unsuitable and thoughtles.
  10. Meals out with the team are not such a treat for me. They involve careful planning, lots of questions and quite a bit of trust and risk on my part. So please, please stop asking me about it, commenting and passing judgement. I would really rather just be normal and not have the ‘So what are you allergic to again? and what happens when you eat it? And have you got your epipen conversation… over and over again. I HATE IT!

Now I’m used to this. I’ve been coping for years now and am usually prepared with my own safe biscuits, chocolate, cake, bread, spread etc. etc.

And I don’t ever expect special treatment.

But…

It would be nice if sometimes people were aware of the small things I do day-in, day-out, to stay safe, avoid going hungry and enjoy the same experience as everyone else.

It would be amazing if people noticed how often I miss out. How often I pass on the cake, biscuits etc.

I’m not on a diet, counting calories or being abstemious. I am simply avoiding foods that I can’t eat. I don’t mind being asked if I would like something but I don’t like being made to feel like a freak when I have to pass, make excuses and say no thanks.

I cannot eat anything with nuts, dairy or soya or I may well end up in A&E. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is a necessity.

  

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