Hospital Food

Hospital Food

Do Coeliacs miss out when it comes to hospital food. Unfortunately I am writing this on behalf of Fiona who is currently recovering from being rushed to hospital last weekend with severe back pain. She has a large prolaped disc which is needs a lot of rest to help heal. She's itching to get back on the laptop which is a sign of being on the mend.

Despite being in extreme pain she was looking on the positive side of being in hospital to sample first hand what the Coeliac experience was re food. Lunch and Dinner were much better than expected. E.g. there was a clearly labelled menu with different dietary requirements so it was relatively simple to pick GF options for lunch, dinner, dessert. However when it came to breakfast that was another thing altogether. First response to the Q aimed at the breakfast trolley lady when asked 'Do you have any gf breakfast options' was a flat 'No'. When the pain killers had properly kicked in after the first couple of day's Fiona managed to talk to one of the nurses who explained that the breakfast trolley only contained gluten cereals. Any gf breakfast has to be booked the night before and ordered specially. Strangely enough there was never any info about that when admitted or on the normal menu offered. This was pretty worrying especially when the cocktail of strong drugs were supposed to be taken with food at all times. This led to extra stress, frustration and tiredness. Despite repeatedly asking for the breakfast to be ordered the best we got was a MullerLite yoghurt to suck through a straw.

In addition the majority of the nurses on this ortho ward didn't know what Coeliac what; what a gf diet consisted of. We all know that there needs to be better health professional training about Coeliac disease but when you are sick and vulnerable and in pain it would be very easy to forget and just eat what you wre given. ( A normal sandwich was slapped on my food tray at one point.) I knew I was getting better when I asserted myself and told them to take it away pronto!!

What's been your (or your child's ) experience of how they look after Coeliac in hospital?

PS Big thanks to the volunteers for stepping up and supporting the running of this site.

14 Replies

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  • I had 2 spells in hospital a couple of years ago, fortunately not for very long. I took in my own bread/butter and toaster bags. My breakfast arrived..no problems. I also filled in the allergy food choices which were very limited and very basic. On my return home, I was ill....something had gluttoned me. A month later I was back in the same hospital where the very sweet nurse came to see me about my diet. I duly handed over my bread/butter/toaster bags, when she said " I remember you.....I couldn't get those bags in the toaster but it was ok..your bread fitted in ok! No wonder I was ill. They were offering a very basic GF diet but no one seemed to have a clue about cross contamination issues which I found very worrying since the nurse who came to speak to me was the one in charge of all special diets in the hospital.

    I duly wrote and heard nothing back.

    A couple of months ago, I had to go into the daycase unit. I took my own food for afterwards. Imagine my shock when I was offered GF toast, toasted in it's own special toaster! Now, each ward has it's own GF toaster all labelled up and the staff were very aware. I was very pleased. I hadn't mentioned my GF needs prior to admission and was catered for.

  • Get well soon Fiona

  • I was in the heart hospital earlier this year ...the first few days the kitchen staff did not even know what gluter free was !!!.The food that might have been exceptable ...was minced meat ...cold ..so could not eat it. Everything else had sauce on. Other than that it was very boreing salad brown around the edges. Every dessert had either MSG or aspertame in it ...I lived on 7up for a week

  • Hi Irene and poor Fiona I hope that she gets better soon it sounds awful. It's great that Fiona is still managing to feel positive in this condition so good for her.

    What I find staggering is this comment '' Any gf breakfast has to be booked the night before and ordered specially'' So what if a coeliac is admitted as an emergency don't they get breakfast!

    I would have thought that with the NHS letting coeliac have food on prescription that they would be geared up for coeliac when in hospital as being fed is a basic need.

    Do let us know how Fiona gets on and tell her that all at GFG want her to get well soon.

  • Plymouth Derriford is spectaculary poor !!!! and serve up a pale homogenous mess at most meals, and there is nothing in the cafe for visitors (not even fruit) so if you have stayed in for the night and leave before the shop opens you have to go hungry

  • Hope you're feeling better Fiona, my dealings with hospital was when I was abroad and had a water infection, I had NO MEALS at all for the first two days then just an orange , apple and banana - I was in for 5 days!! I was starving when I left !

  • Hope you feel very better soon Fiona.

    I have not so far had to stay in hospital, and haven't experienced this side of things yet.

    It is shocking that so many NHS nurses, caterers etc are not educated about Coeliac disease. I think there should be a massive campaign to hit home all hospitals in UK.

    It was good to hear the positive story about the separate gf toaster in the day ward however.

    I really hope you don't have to stay in the hospital too much longer Fiona, and wish you a speedy recovery. I have a good feeling though that due to your stay there that particular hospital will know a great deal more valid information about Coeliac disease. Keep up the good work:-) xx

  • I am veggie, gluten and lactose free. The breakfast was actually the least difficult as they always had soya milk and gf cornflakes. I was actually in due to the diet as i had a very bad reaction to some food, which led to a discovery of a heart problem. I could finally eat after 4 days and i was assured the nutloaf was gf. However the chef neglected to mention to the sister that he added breadcrumbs to firm it up. I was later discharged but again ill the next day. I try to keep away from hospitals now but if I am in I ask friends to bring me food. My advice is don't risk hospital food.

  • I feel for you Fiona, I too was in hospital for almost 6 months and eventually ended up having a liver transplant due to absesses in the liver bursting and causing blood poisoning and irreversable liver damage. However, I lost almost 4 stone and struggled to eat in the hospital and fought a daily battle with the coeliac g/f diet. My family bless them brought me food parcels and my son and daughter in law spoke to the chef of the kitchens regularly still eventually we got it sorted and I began my journey of recovery.I still have to inform people about g/f sensitivity etc and am astonished at how many caterers/chefs are unaware of what it means. They need educating and I in most cases am happy to oblige. Just keep spreading the word and battle on. Get well soon.

  • I hope you get some relief and feel well soon Fiona.

    Re gf hospital food - I was in hospital recently but was booked in (so not emergency). I had to telephone to check the bed was still available so asked about GF food. I was told they'd have to ask, so I just said I would bring my own food - they sounded relieved! My OH said there wasn't anything in the patient cafe either. I had an army of volunteers ready to bring gf food if necessary!

  • It is so demoralising reading this about hospital food. It was bad enough trying to find healthy food options on a hospital menu before I was diagnosed with coeliacs, but now I know should the need arise it will be better to go self-sufficient!

  • hi my experience of a hospital stay was very different as it was a planned admission they knew i am a coeliac, so they asked me what food i didnt like & i said i dont like salad (as it was the middle of winter i didnt really think it would be on the menu anyway) but in a 14 day stay i was handed 13 yes 13 salads even the nurses said do you just want us to put it in the bin for you! my mum & husband had to bring food in for me. but hey the lady in the next bed was vegitarian & got a really nice meal every day, at least i lost a lot of weight (not that i could afford to then.

  • I have always had problems with hospital food in the UK. Either it is cross contaminated, or there is poor choice or I get glutened by barley malt or codex wheat. However earlier this year I was in hospital in Italy. I got gf non codex pasta, lots of veg, five pieces of fruit per day, mozzarella and tomato salads or if you can't eat dairy bean salads etc. plus steak, fish all gf.

  • Poor Fiona, hope it mends soon. And stays mended! I had three spells in hospital, having my girls by ceasarean (now aged 20.18 and 14) They were brilliant then-( I also have a long list of other intolerances)- the chef mostly bought in a large tray of chicken legs but I survived (and was breastfeeding) HOWEVER 13 and 6 years ago I too had prolapsed disc. NIGHTMARE all the catering sytsem has changed and they starved me.( woe is me I came in by a & e - need 5 days notice to set up) I got nothing at all for the five days the second time. Despite summoning hospital dietician. Lost a stone in a week. Chef had no ideas what coeliac is! I also went in for a small op on my hand about 5 yrs ago and they had to keep me in overnight. I had beeen nil by mouth from the morning before, nothing provided all the way round till I discharged myself 35 hrs later. I formally complained. No reply. They made no effort to feed me, other than a brown bread ham sandwich tossed on my bed after I came round from anasthetic. I also wrote to the coeliac society about it, i was so incensed!

    I recently went in for an angiogram- I took a lunch box!!!!

    Have given up- family will bring in food.

    Breakfast alwasy used to be cornflakes or toast ( ie gf cornflakes) which I cant have as i am corn-intolerant. I used to take in my GF cereal and soya milk. I didi this 13 years with the prolapsed disc. Went great for 3 days until someon stole my labelled milk from the fridge , and the nurses seemed unable to get any more. ( I was immombile, no phone in those days, none in hospital shop)

    Mia- sounds great! what is wrong with the uk it really isnt that difficult

    What can be done about this?? Its a big concern for me as I get older :((

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