Q: Do you have any suggestions for me to get GF food while I am in the hospital?
Hospitals are required to provide you with gluten-free (GF) foods during your stay. Celiac disease (CD) is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and as such they are required by law to accommodate the GF diet. In addition, hospitals also have to follow the physician prescribed diet order.
For a planned hospital stay, we recommend:
- Communicate with the hospital ahead of time.
- Contact their nutrition department and ask them about availability of GF foods and procedures.
- Have your doctor prescribe a GF diet order.
- Bring your own food if there are specific things that you want to have on hand.
If you have problems getting access to GF food while hospitalized:
- Immediately inform healthcare providers and intake staff that you have CD and require a GF diet and have them prescribe a GF diet order.
- Ask to speak with the registered dietitian (RDN) or clinical nutrition manager on staff. They would know more about the GF diet than other staff members. A dietitian can work with you on selecting appropriate menu items, as well as communicate your needs to the foodservice department.
- A dietitian can also provide patients with pre-packaged meal supplements such as Boost or Ensure, most of which are GF (check for a GF label). Be careful with meal supplements and shakes that are prepped in-house.
- If there is no GF menu available select simple naturally GF foods such as: fruits, vegetables, plain hardboiled eggs, yogurt, plain meat/chicken/fish, plain rice, baked potatoes etc. Also ask them to prepare the foods separately from other foods on clean equipment or foil.
- Have a family member bring food in for you if that is allowed.
Prepare for emergencies where you may be unresponsive:
- Make sure your primary care physician and all other healthcare providers know about your CD diagnosis and need for a GF diet.
- Plan for a family member/significant other to inform the hospital staff of your GF needs. Set up a healthcare proxy with all appropriate information.
- Wear a medical bracelet with your CD diagnosis and GF diet restriction.
- Note that parenteral (IV) nutrition and IV medications are GF, and most hospital tube feeding formulas are GF.
Check out our downloadable GF Meal Preparation Guidelines
Check out our downloadable Celiac Facts brochure
Reviewed and updated October 20, 2022.
Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.