Whether you're newly diagnosed or a gluten-free diet veteran, these tips from Gigi Stewart, MA will prepare you for a safe gluten-free Thanksgiving.
By Gigi Stewart, MA
It’s a day to gather with those we love most and give thanks, but there’s no denying the focus on food when it comes to Thanksgiving.
When our health dictates that focus must turn to eating gluten-free, holiday meals can become more frightening than festive, especially on that first gluten-free Thanksgiving. However, we can enjoy a fun, festive holiday on our gluten-free diet, no matter where we are when the stuffing is served!
Use these tips to help make your gluten-free Thanksgiving a success!
It’s Your Serve!
Hosting Thanksgiving in your home means complete oversight of what goes on in the kitchen and beyond. These tips help ensure a safe, satisfying meal.
- Cook the entire meal yourself with only gluten-free recipes and ingredients.
- If others insist on contributing, ask them to bring non-food items. Suggest extra ice, a bottle of wine, or even fresh flowers or candles for the table.
- When the inevitable gluten-filled “gift” dish arrives, accept graciously and serve it away from other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Have Turkey, Will Travel
Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the entire year, so on the road or in the air, be prepared with these tips for keeping your meal gluten-free.
- If traveling by car, take along a few favorite gluten-free dishes. This ensures that you will have safe foods to enjoy, even if there isn’t another dish available that you can eat.
- For longer trips or when traveling by air, offer to help cook part of the meal once you arrive.
- When cooking in a kitchen that is not your own, remember to sanitize countertops and avoid porous dishes and wooden spoons, which could contain gluten residue.
- In advance, ask your host about gluten-free product availability in markets where you are going.
- Take along recipes for your favorite dishes so you’re ready to help shop and bake for the big meal.
Regardless of where you eat, if the meal is served buffet-style, take extra care with these tips to keep gluten at bay.
- If possible, clearly mark foods that are gluten-free so there is no question about what you can and cannot eat.
- Place gluten-free dishes in a separate serving area when possible, to avoid risk of cross-contamination.
- Have enough serving spoons available for every dish. Stress to others that “spoon swapping” between dishes can be dangerous for you.
- Step to the front of the serving line to reduce the risk of contamination from gluten-filled foods that may have dripped into gluten-free dishes as others scoop.
Kitchen Closed: Tips for Dining Out
Many restaurants offer full Thanksgiving meals and are willing to accommodate gluten-free diners. These tips help ensure your needs are met when dining out.
- Call ahead to speak directly to the chef who will be working on the day you plan to dine to discuss gluten-free offerings and kitchen procedures. Mention any other allergies or intolerances, too, to minimize surprises when you dine.
- Upon arrival, explain your situation to your server. Ask to speak to the chef again, just to be certain your needs are met.
- If the meal is buffet-style, ask for your gluten-free food to be served directly from the kitchen to reduce cross-contamination risk.
Also Keep in Mind...
- Gluten is obvious in some dishes (traditional stuffing and rolls), but other times gluten hides. For example, the soy sauce in traditional green bean casserole contains wheat, and the seasoning packets that accompany some turkeys can, too. Always read labels!
- When reheating dishes, if gluten-filled and gluten-free dishes share the oven, be sure all dishes are covered with lids or aluminum foil to prevent cross-contamination.
- Exercise patience with family members. They may not understand what living gluten-free means, especially if you are newly diagnosed with a gluten-related illness. Chances are, they are willing to listen. Gatherings like Thanksgiving provide a great opportunity to educate others about the gluten-free lifestyle in a positive way.
For more tips on gluten-free living, simple-to-prepare recipes and more, visit me at GlutenFreeGigi.com where I dish up “Smart Nutrition Backed by Science!”
About Gigi Stewart, MA
Gigi Stewart holds a master's degree in Behavioral Neuroscience with a focus in chronic inflammatory pain and natural products research. Gigi focuses on making gluten-free living easy and accessible for everyone with her philosophy of “Smart Nutrition Backed by Science”™.
Through academic research, scientific studies and personal experience, Gigi has gained a unique understanding of how to manage the foods we eat to transform our health on a gluten-free diet. Gigi’s passion for sharing this information stems from her personal understanding of health challenges and her own need to live a gluten-free lifestyle.
To learn more, visit GlutenFreeGigi.com where you will find original gluten-free recipes with complete How-To videos, the latest research on celiac disease and other gluten-related issues along with special diet insights in her free e-Letter the "Daily Gluten Free Fix”.