It is now officially 2 days away from T-Day or otherwise known as Turkey Day. So of course this Tuesday I had to have a special Thanksgiving Guest Post and I found one! A special thanks to Amber from Eats & Exercise Amber for coming up with this post about having a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving. The table is set, the turkey is cooling and everyone gathers together. Around the table family and friends, one by one say what they are thankful for. While everyone else is treasuring this moment, if you have Celiac Disease, food allergies, or intolerance’s, you’re more concerned if whether your host is going to unintentionally poison you. It’s hard to give thanks when you’re worried about the serious complications accidentally ingesting gluten could do to your insides…
Dealing with a diagnosis of Celiac or other food limiting conditions/intolerance’s can be tough, especially when it comes to events that are revolved around food. I was sure that my first gluten free Thanksgiving would be awful but it wasn’t! Instead, I survived, thrived even, with not an ounce of gluten accidentally ingested AND I educated my whole family on cross contamination and why we couldn’t mix up the spoons for gravy and stuffing.
This year, I found out that I wouldn’t be able to go home for Thanksgiving. So instead, I would be spending it with my boyfriend and his family. While most girls would be excited, I was at first anxious and uncomfortable. The whole idea made me feel sick as if I had already been glutened! His family doesn’t know my dietary needs that well and often forget that in addition to gluten, I cannot have lactose. So, after a few weeks of worrying and planning out possible what if scenarios, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time to take charge of the situation because if I wasn’t going to ensure my health and safety then who was?
So, if you are experiencing your first gluten free Thanksgiving or spending the holiday with those who may not be familiar with your needs, here are my five tips on how to have a healthy and happy holiday!
ABOVE ALL ELSE–
Talk to your host about everything. Whether you feel as if you are being annoying or not, you are your own best advocate and if you don’t speak up, it could result in you becoming sick.
1. Not all turkey’s are gluten free – tell your host this ASAP
Do your research and provide your host with a list of safe and unsafe turkeys. For example, Butterball turkey is not gluten free, Wegmans’ brand is. When broaching this subject, remember to be polite and courteous, do not demand they buy a certain brand, say something like, “I did a little research and found out that not all turkeys were gluten free. This was something I wasn’t aware of, so I found a list of safe and unsafe brands for you to keep in mind when you’re shopping please”
2. Ask your host what the menu/meal plan is.
Most families have a typical menu for every year, so it should not be too difficult to ask this in advance. If your host is unsure, then go over what ingredients that you cannot have, such as breadcrumbs in the stuffing, specific broths that are not gluten free for basting the turkey, gravy mixes that use wheat flour, etc. You may need to write this down for your host or send them an email list. If you think that they will forget, then write it down or email it to them whether they want you to or not. Also, remind them closer to the day of about specifics you talked about! Depending on your host, they may be willing to make some changes to their meal menu so you can enjoy as many side dishes as possible.
3. Provide ingredients for the host to cook with.
Most “normal” people do not keep lactose free butter, gluten free bread crumbs, xatham gum, rice flour, etc. in their house nor do they need to! If your host is willing to cook with your ingredient substitutions, provide them with the ingredients. For example: gluten free croutons/bread crumbs for the stuffing, lactaid milk, and lactose free butter for the mashed potatoes
4. Offer to help cook
If your host is using your “special ingredients” or says that they are using naturally gluten free items, offer to help them cook. I know it always makes me feel better when I have prepared or helped prepare the food I plan on eating. This ensures that there has been no contamination because I have watched it like a hawk. Plus, your offering to cook helps lessen the burden on the hosting chef, who probably is just as nervous about serving you, as you are about eating their food!
5. Don’t let yourself be deprived! Bring your own sides AND dessert!
Your host should be able to provide you with a gluten free turkey (since there are plenty of brand options out there) but as for side dishes, well that could be a whole different story, especially if it’s great great great grandma’s recipe that is a tradition to be made, as is. If this is the case, make your own sides! If you are traveling, pack a cooler with your pre-cooked sides and when you arrive on location, politely ask where you can store your own prepared sides. Just before dinner, pop your own options into the microwave. If you feel embarrassed or silly doing this, don’t. You are being smart and allowing yourself to enjoy what YOU want to eat on this holiday! If you are staying on location, bring your own ingredients to prepare your own sides. For my gluten free, dairy free Thanksgiving feast this year, I know that I am going to have to make my own sides. After talking to my boyfriend’s mom, I realized that although there would be some gluten free items for me, there would not be lactose free items. I am extremely sensitive to whole milk and butter, so instead of having a bare plate, I plan on making my own sides! I will be replacing milky mashed potatoes with a sweet potato, gluten filled biscuits with a few slices of cornbread I made already made a batch of and froze, and cream of mushroom gluten-filled green bean casserole with green beans and mushrooms sautéed with a little olive oil. While it may not be the easiest thing to have to cook for myself and travel with my food, it also isn’t easy to sit at a table and watch everyone else eat what I cannot have. In addition to side dishes, don’t forget about dessert! If you’re an avid baker, bake something for everyone. If you don’t feel like making enough for everyone, make a single portion of a sweet treat you would like to have while everyone else is eating dessert!
I hope that these tips helped!
Stay happy & healthy
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