alt=A woman politely refuses food at a Thanksgiving meal.

Enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner With Food Allergies

Last updated: November 2022

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and for anyone dealing with food allergies, anxiety and stress can be on the rise. Why? Well, holiday get-togethers revolve around food typically, but Thanksgiving, in particular, has its own special menu. And for someone with food allergies, this menu can be daunting, as it may not fit their safe foods list.

Allergens in traditional Thanksgiving food

So let's take a look at what is typically devoured on the famous holiday. We have the luscious turkey, which some like to wrap in bacon for extra flavor, stuffed with stuffing. Stuffing contains bread, veggies like onions and peppers, and tons of seasoning.  Then you have your gravy with flour and some even cream to thicken it.

Then the delicious side dishes can include macaroni and cheese, casseroles, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce. And to be fancy, in addition to the turkey, some families like to have baked ham sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar.

All of this sounds oh-so-delicious, but it can be overwhelming for someone allergic to many of these foods or the ingredients used to prepare them. What are some ways to make this holiday less stressful for anyone dealing with food allergies? Here are some tips that I recommend.

Eat before Thanksgiving dinner

This might seem strange, but this is a huge help to me. Instead of arriving at a Thanksgiving dinner feeling ravenous, I think it is best to eat in the comfort of your home beforehand. This way, you arrive with a full belly and aren't stressed about seeing what options work for you on the menu. Instead, you can sort of graze to your leisure and have peace of mind.

Bring a dish that you can eat

Another tip I have learned is it is smart to make a dish or recipe that you can eat and enjoy. This way, you have at least 1 option to eat that you know is safe for you, and you won't have an allergic reaction to it. And if you feel like it, even bring 2 or 3 sides. It is reassuring knowing that there is a plate you know without a doubt you can have without a reaction.

Thanksgiving turkey

For the most part, when it comes to Thanksgiving, some people aren't allergic to turkey, so that can be a safe food you can count on. However, beware of gravy and stuffing! For me, in particular, wheat is a major food allergy, and there is wheat hidden in most gravy sauces, along with dairy.

Be honest about your food allergies

Be honest with the host if you are attending Thanksgiving dinner at someone's home. Tell them about your allergies and that you will be happy to bring a dish to be more comfortable. All hosts are thrilled when guests bring extra food. It's a win, win. So don't be shy; honesty is the best policy in this situation.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving when dealing with food allergies? If you have any tips, please share them below!

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