What do Celiac Patients in Alberta Health Services eat?

In the past we have talked about eating gluten free at the University of Alberta hospital.  Not necessarily as a patient, but as a visitor.

On July 6th, 2012, Amanda gave birth to our first child.  This meant that Amanda had quite the experience in  Alberta's healthcare system.  Her experience was specifically at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, but the gluten free eating tips at the hospital I am going to share can probably be related to other hospitals in the Alberta Health Services region such as the University of Alberta Hospital.

So first off, yes, Alberta Health Services does have gluten free meals for its patients.  They have everything from gluten free rice cereal to gluten free bread for you, and full savoury meals (I snuck some of Amanda's dinner and it tasted good, go figure).  So if you are at the Royal Alexandra Hospital or other hospitals they can accommodate your diet.  So here are some tips to ensure you do get your gluten free meals to accommodate your diet for Celiac Disease.

  1. Good healthcare starts with good communication.  This is a mantra from my employer, and is very true.  What does this mean?  It means to Ask, Listen, Talk every step of the away of your care.  Amanda was transferred between several units during the birthing process of our baby girl.  That meant a lot of changing hands of files, and we needed to ask questions, and talk to the nurses and staff about her Celiac Disease.  We wanted to make sure they were on top of her diet as best as possible.
  2. Be prepared that they may not get you the gluten free meals right away.  It took until the next day for them to get Amanda a gluten free meal.  We were not sure why, but I imagine it had something to do with the way Food Services works at the hospital (They serve 30,000 meals a day across the province).  So if you know you are going in, bring some snacks and food for you to get by until they sort out your meals.  If you are going in an emergency, don't bother right away, you obviously have bigger fish to fry, and when the dust settles, you can have someone bring you some food until the hospital gets the gluten free meals setup for you.
  3. Not everyone knows what Alberta Health Services, Food Services can provide.  We were told several different things from different people at the hospital.  One nurse said they could not accommodate the gluten free diet.  But they obviously could! So remind them you require a gluten free diet, and to let food services know, because they will send you a gluten free meal.
Although I hope you never need to go to the hospital for anything bad, I hope that these tips help you out to your next visit into our healthcare system.

Read more about Alberta Health Services, Food Services department.

Have any questions about Alberta Health Services Food Services department?  Email them questions at patientfoodservicesfeedback@albertahealthservices.ca.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta


  1. I requested GF food when I was scheduled for a c-section delivery. The hospital staff took the request ahead of time when I did the pre-op paperwork, but it seemed the kitchen staff just removed the bread (or other item with gluten) from the meals. For example, instead of scrambled eggs with toast, I just got the eggs. I brought some of my own bagels to supplement the meals. I also got crackers (not gf) with most meals. I sounds like your experience was better, so I'm glad they're getting more accommodating of gf meals.

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  4. I had my first baby at Misericordia in March, and also needed a GF meal plan as I'm celiac. I can't complain about the meals at all, they were pretty good (although the muffins and bread were kinda lame). My issue was that I was there for a c-section, which meant a 4-day stay since she was born late in the day. As a nursing mom I was starving, and all the patients are free to use the kitchenette which is stocked with bread and toasters and things for midnight snacks to keep you going. Of course, I wasn't able to eat ANYTHING there. If I was lucky there'd be a yoghurt or a container of milk sitting in the fridge, but that's it. I'd save food from one of my trays, but I was so hungry from nursing that I usually need to finish the entire tray at that meal time! Next time I'm going to request that they place a few gluten-free foods into the fridge marked for me to eat at night (since I'll like need a section next time as well).

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