Gluten Free Food on Prescription - Does it really pay ?

I have been pondering whether I should take the plunge and invest in an annual prescription to get some of the staple foods. Since diagnosis in October 2011 I took a few that I'd rather eat naturally GFree foods than "make do" with the poor substitutes.

This has worked OK but I am still not gaining weight mainly due to the lack of interest in some foods. I do like toast for breakfast but found the GFree a bit poor - aprt from the Genius which is OK.

Just wondered what other peoples view was and whether long term Coeliac sufferers use the prescription service or not. Any comment and advice always welcome.

25 Replies

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  • Hi ianwoowoo, i used the prescription service when i was first diagnosed 20 years ago, but i dont bother now. I have been buying freefrom stuff but have decided to make my own, where possible, (am the other way putting weight on!) plus as you say theres plenty of naturally GF foods about. I have just bought a breadmaker but havent had much success with that yet, will keep trying. For me bread wise i find Warburtons GF bread, brown, makes brilliant toast, it seems to fill the craving for toast better than any other GF bread out there.

  • Thanks for your reply, I did like the Warburtons bread as well - still only palletable in toast form for me though !

    My wifes had a go at bread making and has struggled there too. Pastry is also a sore topic in our house - when she has made pies with GF pastry they look like a patchwork quilt - but still nice though.

  • Havent made pastry myself but have read that it helps if you roll between two pieces of clingfilm, if you use it, i guess baking paper would work the same, stops it sticking i guess, worth a try.

  • A tip for pastry making is always mix with an egg & 2 tsps of cider vinegar helps. My pastry is always complemented & eaten by all the family. And I always roll out between clingfilm. Keep trying it is well worth it. Nothing beats home-made mince pies & jam tarts as well as all the usual pies.

  • Just noticed your tip for best pastry results. Thanks. I'll take note.

  • I made my own cakes, pastries and bread for the Christmas holidays...I followed the recipe for the breadmaker on the back of the Dove's farm white bread mix and it turned out great. I have sandwiches the day I make it then freeze it in slices for toasting.

    I made short crust pastry with the dove's farm self raising flour with one teaspoon of xanthan gum to make it so I could roll it out and it was lovely. Took sausage rolls and quiche to a party and everyone ate it in preference to the real thing. It froze and defrosted with no problems as well so very pleased with it. The flour makes lovely yorkshire puddings as well, light as a feather and better than the real thing.

  • Hi Ian, you can get a prepayment certifate for either 3 months or a year so why not try out the 3 month one. It works out far cheaper because you get a few loaves at a time and a few packs of pasta etc. You can also get xanthian gum on prescription for home bread making and if you need any med's these are covered.

    I think that the most important thing is which area you live in as some PCT's have much stricter allowances than others. The East coast is particularly badly hit with restrictions on fresh breads due to the delivery costs.

    I personally do not bother with food on prescription for many reasons,

    1) I can't tolerate codex wheat

    2) I don't like being dependent on getting a prescription taking it to the chemist and waiting for the food to be delivered to the chemist.

    3) It is very frustrating when something goes wrong and you end up waiting for a prescription that you do not want.

    4) What really bothers me is the cost to the NHS for prescription foods, partly because of the delivery charges and I think that the prescription food co's rip the NHS off. (The majority of prescription food co's DS, Juvela, Trufree, Dr Schar to name a few are all owned by the Hero food group. So they have a monopoly and they sponsor the UK charity CUK and is this right? So for me there is a moral dilema as well as the actual food which in the case of codex is very highly processed)

    5) There are healthy natural alternatives out there like quinoa and rice. Orgram make a huge selection of pasta's with naturally gf grains.

    I would try some things out and then make up your own mind so here's a link so that you can buy a certificate over the phone and get your gf prescriptions ordered. And let us know how you get on.

    nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1127.aspx

  • Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I am still finding my feet at the moment and in some respects just avoiding the specialist suppliers - partly for financial/moral reasons but also maybe part of me is just saying I don't want to the odd one out.

    I haven't tries quinoa yet so maybe I should experiment with that and see what things I can find to do with it. Rice is always a winner for me.

    Thanks again for your feedback - very informative.

  • I have a yearly prepayment, and as long as I don't procrastinate over my prescription it works pretty well.

    I tend to order bi alimenta pasta misti box - 3kg variety box of pasta in one go, that's easy to cook, travels for pack lunches and tastes ok. I also get baguettes and breads (non-codex) and some flour mixes (Juvela Harvest is non-codex).

    I set up my represcription so that it goes to the supermarket every fortnight, so I collect with my weekly shop, and then get a prescription to tick what I want next time at the same time. It works pretty well although as Jerry says, sometimes I end up not getting something I was relying on.

    I'm lucky that my authority and my GP are laid back and let me get what I want, but I think the standard amount is 18 units per month for men, and a few extra if you have a physical job or lifestyle.

    Think Jerry's suggestion of trying it out for 3 months and seeing if it is worth it to you is a good one. My choice was made because I pay just short of 4 warburton loaves a month, but get much more for my money, even if I am selling out to the Supermarkets and big GF brands.

  • Thanks sassyl, I think I may give it a try and see how it goes - if nothing else it gives me a chance to try new things.

  • Ianwoowoo we're much the same as you and Jerry. However, there are some great breads on prescription (if you have the room for 6 loaves in one hit!) and it's also worth trying the GF Gnocchi. I was never a fan of it pre diagnosis but if you need something filling quickly it just takes 2 mins to cook - perfect for those of us that can't cook. I believe it's the same brand as the one Tony mentioned and is from Italy. You get a large box of many packs (circa 6) so they last forever.

  • Thanks Fiona, Gnocchi looks like another one to add the list to try.

  • Thanks Tony.

  • I don't have prescription foods. It was a hassle getting the prescription and the doctor was chosing what I ate!!!! The ingredient list on the food was abysmal - I don't know why but I thought the foods for poorly people would be fortified! I haven't eaten hydrogenated vegetable oil for over a decade so was horrified to see it in prescription items.

    Unfortunately, I am also on the losing weight side. I'm told it is due to malabsorption because I do get the calories in. I cook most of my food from scratch. Pastry hint - chill before rolling to keep it intact (and maybe use egg yolk and milk for binding, and replace some flour with ground almonds).

  • Thanks for your feedback - I am eating loads and even over Christmas still failed to put any weight on.

  • I live in Greece and there are no items on prescription available. The only gf bread here is the shape and weight of a wall brick from the chemist at 6.50 euros a go. I had some dove's farm flour and bread mix brought from the UK and make my own. I tried some of the free from products from the UK but I reacted to most of them, mainly due to the corn and soya in them. Others were just too sweet and had too many additives so I am making my own. But all these are luxuries really, I prefer my food to be naturally gluten free like meat, fish , fruit, veg and olive oil.

  • I get six packs of livwell flat bread (pitta bread) its good for butties I find I do use a presctiption card as I get calcium pills etc so works out for me but I don't suppose its good for all I got the 3months one to try you can do it all on line too.

  • Hi Ian, Absolutely yes it is worth getting the pre-payment certificate. If you got lots of GF food on prescription it's well worth it, it also covers all of your other prescriptions too, not just your GF foods. I've been paying once a month for the last year at £10 per month. Prescription costs being what they are & having Coeliac Disease you may well need other medication on prescription. Each item is charged individually imagine getting an order of bread, that would be 6 times the cost. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks - I think I'll give it a go.

  • Living in Wales, can't really comment on the prescriptions - I don't get any foods on prescription.

    I suspect the Genius bread won't be covered.

    If you are looking for a tasty bread - have you tried the Tesco Free From Brown Seeded Bread - it makes super toast and toasted sandwiches and is just about tolerable in sandwiches (Tesco do some of their own breads on prescription - not sure if this one is covered - worth asking)

    I did look into pre-payment certs for someone in England, and they are a bit of a no-brainer if you get more than one item a month - so definitely worth finding out what you can get on script and whether it meets your needs

    nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1127.aspx

  • I haven't tried the Tesco bread you mention I'll definitely give it a try. I think sounds like I should at least have a go with prepayment for a while and at least it's a way of trying some other food options.

    Thanks for advice.

  • Up here in Scotland I get Genius bread on prescription. I wonder if it depends on the chemist you use & their supplier?

  • Genius Seeded Bread is the closest to real bread for me.

    Also these guys: bakedtotaste.co.uk are good for pasties and pies (but you have to but in bulk).

    I have a pre-payment cert and it saves me masses, however the local PCT as Jerry mentioned have slashed prescriptions for gluten free food in the South East of England as a money saving exercise. The choice is rubbish now. So I don't bother getting gluten free products on prescription.

    So have got used to buying our own, doing more cooking and eating the naturally gluten free foods available.

  • It seems to me that you have not been told about Coeliac UK if not you need to join and they will send you a book with all the foods available on prescription.Also the main supermarkets GF foods are listed besides lots of other information.My Dietition put me straight on to them back in 2005 when I was diagnosed.She also gave me names of GF manufacturers and told me to contact them for samples,which they are very happy to send in the hopes that you will become a customer privately or NHS.

    There is no way I could afford to buy 8 loaves of bread,pasta, flour mix,pizza bases and biscuits being a pensioner.I am fortunate so far in having a very good PTC,my Dietition tells me Use it or lose it.I have Juvela fresh sliced bread which goes in the freezer and part baked fibre whole loaves and part baked white rolls both of which are vacuum packed so no need to freeze.I spread this over the months and find it suits me well.I also have Glutafin fresh sliced bread,a bit on the sticky side but at least it's big enough to have a sandwich now and again.Obviously the bread and rolls are not as good as ordinary bread but you just have to get used to it.I put my order in to the pharmacy and fortunately they deliver it for me.Hope this has been some use to you.

    Dumpy.

  • Hi Dumpy,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I am aware of Coeliac UK and am a member. I find the guide useful but it doesn't list everything that is OK to eat so still you are left wondering whether something is OK or not.

    I received the free packs as well - I still have a lot of the stuff piled inmy garage waiting to be eaten as I am just not keen on the "pretend" stuff.

    I have learnt to tolerate the bread now but only ever eat it toatsed.

    I think as I am still not gaining weight I should step up my intake and the only economical way to do that will be by pre-payment prescription.

    Thanks Again.

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