Updated: Mar 3
1. Host-If you host Thanksgiving you have full control over what is cooked and how it's prepared. You can either cook the whole meal or have others bring food and keep your gluten-free food separate. This allows you to have control of everything that you make and ensure it is safe for you and/or family members. However, it can be overwhelming especially if you don't like to cook.
2. Bring your own food -If you are concerned that your host will not have safe gluten-free options you could make a plate to bring with you. You could also offer to bring some dishes that you enjoy eating and know will be safe.
3. Communicate with the host-As you become more comfortable eating gluten-free you may want to communicate and educate others about gluten and the many places it can be found. To do this, you must have open honest communication with your host. As people close to you learn more about what is and is not safe they will try to prepare food that you can eat safely. This is a great option because you are educating others about gluten-free.
4. Dinner out-If you have a place where you feel comfortable, you could have your Thanksgiving dinner out at a restaurant. This is a wonderful option if you have a place that you feel is safe. We have done this a few times for Thanksgiving. We have eaten at Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World. They are wonderful with gluten-free food! Of course, this is nice because you don't have to cook or clean up! However, it is not always easy to find a place you feel you can eat safely and it can be expensive.
5. Stay home-Sometimes, especially after you are first diagnosed this may seem like the best option. When you first start attending holiday gatherings and need to eat gluten-free it can feel very overwhelming. Staying home is always a choice but I would caution you against doing this regularly. When you are required to eat gluten-free for medical reasons it can be easy to start isolating yourself if you are not careful. It is easy to eat at home and avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with having someone else prepare your food. It can be hard. However, isolating ourselves is not good for our mental health. Thanksgiving is not only about food but it’s also about socializing with those you love. If it feels overwhelming I would suggest you make a plate for yourself and eat what you made. Then you get to socialize without the fear of getting sick.
The longer you are gluten-free the easier this becomes. If you have a good support network your friends and family will want to learn how to make things that you can eat safely. They will not be offended if you ask how things were made to make sure you don’t get sick.
Sadly, some people will not be as supportive. If that is the case don’t feel bad showing up with your own plate of food. You should not suffer or feel awkward because others don’t support you. Take care of yourself.
Overall, I have found that most people are very supportive. They will call and ask if the ingredients are safe and double-check to be sure. Not everyone will understand how to make dishes gluten-free, but they won't mind if you bring your own food. They will be happy to ensure you can participate and not worry, as much, about getting sick.
What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?