Sunday 19th May 2024

Glutton for gluten-free? The true costs of my coeliac’s disease


Right, shall we clear up a couple of things early on?

I am a coeliac. This means that I have coeliac’s disease. I am, consequently, medically intolerant to gluten. I am not doing it as a diet and I am not self-diagnosed.

Thank goodness we got that sorted out.

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It’s not that I have anything against those who choose to cut gluten out of their diet per se, I just don’t understand why you would deliberately restrict your menu choices and increase the cost of your weekly shop.

Believe me, there’s no debate to be had here. A gluten-free diet is unequivocally, astronomically more expensive. Illustrating the disparity is simple: a bag of Tesco Value plain flour costs 45p; whereas a bag of Doves Farm gluten free plain flour comes in at £2.19.

Honestly, if it weren’t for the side effects, I’d be buying it by the hundredweight, cutting it into lines, putting on the Hendrix and closing the curtains.

A gluten-free diet is unequivocally, astronomically more expensive.

Anyway, leaving my strange mind to one side for a minute, I thought that I would share my wisdom today with my fellow sufferers about reducing the expense of life without bread.

The first – and most important – lesson that I learned, when I was diagnosed back in 2012, is that shop-bought baked goods are crushingly expensive. Also, with few exceptions, the contents taste like the boxes they come in. Home baking is much more salubrious to both the taste buds and bank accounts. I am no baker, despite having watched Bakeoff in its entirety*. Nonetheless, I have churned out some brownies, lemon drizzle cakes and the odd Victoria sponge. Be warned… it takes a while to get used to the quirks of the flour but, if you persevere, you can save yourself a bit of money.

In a similar vein, cooking standard meals becomes something of a minefield. My advice here is this – turn to the exotic. Whereas heavy British stews and pies are loaded with expensive meats, flour and pastry, Moroccan (other countries are available) dishes invariably make use of cheaper cuts, pulses and less flour.

Having conquered cooking, you must now turn to face the spectre of bread.

Want gluten-free? Try eating something more exotic than British food.

Have you ever eaten a sandwich, filled with the silt that clings to the underside of Brighton pier? I think I might have. The last time I tried to make myself a sandwich using untoasted gluten-free bread I choked for ten minutes, before publicly coughing up the offending item. As well as being basically inedible, an average loaf costs 15p per slice. Consequently, my advice is to limit your consumption of bread. I opt for soups, vegetables, pulses and rice instead. A comprehensive list of alternative ideas can be found here.

What is the message that I have tried to convey here? As usual, I’ve sort of forgotten.

Ah, here we are. If you are a diagnosed coeliac, take some time to familiarise yourself with different cuisines rather than blundering on with pricey ingredients and substandard results. This will yield greater satisfaction in terms of both budget and taste. Similarly, it must be recognised that sandwiches are… unpleasant… and unnecessary, especially since we have ready access to a plethora of alternatives at any local supermarket.

Nonetheless, as I stand in this abandoned quarry, shirtless and yelling into the abyss, my real question is this: why would anyone ever choose to ‘go gluten-free’?

*This does not stop me criticising, loudly, when someone’s Créme Pâtissiere curdles.  

Drew Guppy

Mouthy blogger

Somerset man lost in London. Trying to get a bit less woeful with money.

  1. Dearest Drew
    I would like to know if you have a photo of yourself “standing shirtless”?
    with love,

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