Living on stale bread… freefrom is expensive!

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, specialised 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. Too 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 margarine 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 thoughtless.
  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.


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, wheat 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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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. I Morris says:

    Hi Ruth, when at work I was bullied by 3 of my so called mates. They all knew about my allergies almost 200 and my worst being perfumes of any sort no matter what sort, on the particular day I went to what was known as the batch cabin and the 3 so called friends had between them decided to clean by using polish, floor cleaner and window cleaner and also light a joss stick a few minutes before I went there all, of which the 3 knew I was allergic to all of the products they had used as I had spoken to them before about using the different products before they also knew I was due in the cabin as I walked in none of the 3 said a word just where giggling between themselves and the it hit me the multitude of smells took my breath away and started to affect my breathing as I also suffer with severe asthma. I then went to the mess room and took my anti histamines and inhalers which were having no effect fortunately my cousin who also worked at the same Co. came to my aid and called for an ambulance and the first aider who commented on my getting my Epi-pen out ‘are you going to use that ‘ at which I could not answer as I could not breath with using it at that point a paramedic arrived and took over from the first aider to my relief. I was taken to hospital and underwent the usual intravenous drugs and 4 hour stay under observation. I could not work the next day and when i phoned my boss to tell him why my cousin had already done it for me. The outcome of which the 3 so called friends got a written warning that if it happened again they would be fired, I got an apology from the 3 but I don’t think it bothered them as it did me having to still work with them.

    • Hi Ian, I am so sorry to hear this. I am also very glad to hear your workplace took the matter seriously. It might help to sit down with the three and explain what it feels like to have an anaphylactic attack. Some people just don’t know how painful, frightening and awful it is. I hae had people say to me, “So what happens? You just get a bit of a rash or short of breath?” NO! it would probably put me in A&E and the reacion is so bad I cannot breathe or speak. Sounds like similar to how I react. Very frightening when you can’t really even speak to paramedics, but they know what they’re doing. The worst I’ve ever has is unthought through comments. I hope this never happens again and that these three learnt from their actions.

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