Gluten Free Food Costs, Tax Breaks, & Other Realities

One realization that all gluten-free shoppers get when they make their first trip to the store is that the cost of gluten-free items is shockingly high. I like to refer to it as sticker shock at the cash register because you would have thought by my reaction that I had just asked the price of a top of the line vacuum cleaner. My jaw dropped and I realized life was getting ready to be even tougher. I was a single mother then, trying to survive on one income which wasn't enough to begin with.

The standard answer I have received when having discussions with other celiac patients, parents of kids and even the staff of companies making the products was that the cost of the ingredients were more expensive. This makes sense to me when you think of small local companies, but big companies that buy ingredients in bulk? Or is it truly that we are a captive audience, much like other specialized dietary requirements?

Fellow support group members always have wistful conversations at meetings hoping for there to be a change in pricing to a more average grocery pricing. The day has finally come when we can hope for a loaf of bread that is the normal size, but the price is still higher than the highest priced gluten bread in the Deli. 

One might ask why they complain when this is clearly their medicine to control their disease. The cost of other medications in comparison should make the gluten-free diet much more palatable - Right? Well, not unless you are willing to eat a whole lot less bread products than you used to consume. And that is likely the best conclusion to come to, but the newly diagnosed are still grappling with the changes and most aren't ready to sacrifice the bread yet, even if it is gluten free and costs anywhere from $5 - $7 a loaf.

Some people claim that making their own bread mixes and loafs is a cost cutter, but I have yet to make the cost analysis as effective once I add in the cost of milk, eggs, butter, and the flours themselves. We have still found the cost to be more than the wheat subsidized version.

The only consolation we can truly find is that there is currently a small tax break given to those who are required to eat gluten free. This is a lucky break for those of us who have a clear cut diagnosis and is one of the main reasons I advise others to get a doctor's note requiring their dietary needs. Yes, you will have to keep receipts. Yes, it requires filing long form. But the check return in the end will help ease those moments of sticker shock ever so slightly. Find more information on tax breaks for gluten free here.

If you don't have a doctor's diagnosis to back you, it is almost inevitable that you will cut back on your baked goods consumption to nil or almost nil. And that is a perfectly acceptable answer to the ever growing grocery costs we all are experiencing. We get the tax break and still have cut back on baked goods as we find them to be better as a treat than a staple for our total health.

And the gluten free journey continues...

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