A New Celiac’s Fight for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving


By:  Joella Baker

This will be my first holiday going gluten-free.  I’m actually excited about the naturally gluten-free items that I plan to include in my Thanksgiving.  I love food and I love to eat and I especially love my Thanksgiving favorites. Just because now I’m gluten-free doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the holiday like everyone else.  I just may have to be a little more careful. 

We will be having a small Thanksgiving this year and I know that I can make sure all the food that I want to have, will be gluten-free. The great thing is that most of the foods I love to eat at Thanksgiving don’t have gluten or wheat in them. 

What follows is my Thanksgiving plan to help myself and others struggling to be gluten-free:

  1. Be part of the planning: No one can make sure you have the gluten-free meal you want to have as well as you can. Therefore, either choose to host the dinner, or let the host know you will be bringing several gluten-free dishes to the dinner.  Also, find out what the host plans to make and ask what will be gluten-free.  That way, you know ahead of time what you should prepare. This Thanksgiving I plan to make my first gluten-free stuffing and gluten-free pumpkin pie.  You can’t have Thanksgiving without stuffing and pumpkin pie.
  2. Make gluten-free versions of your must-have dishes. If you are going to someone’s house, then bring your own gluten-free version of your favorite dishes. This way, you’ll know you will get the foods you love.
  3. Do a test run. I’ve learned that foods react differently when you substitute gluten-free flour, so you have to practice making these foods beforehand. If you don’t, the foods may not meet your expectations. Also, by practicing these dishes, I know they’ll taste good for everyone.  I want others at the dinner to realize they can also enjoy gluten-free options. 
  4. Double-check ingredients. When you go to someone else’s house, double-check the ingredients before you eat something. You may have to ask anyone bringing dishes that you think might be gluten-free to save ingredient lists or packaging so that you can double-check that everything you would like to eat is gluten-free. Checking ingredients and always going with the motto “when in doubt, leave it out” is a motto used by Celiac’s everywhere.
  5. Be aware of potential cross-contamination. Even if some of the dishes are gluten-free, it’s easy for someone to casually use the same serving utensil for gluten and gluten-free dishes alike. As Celiac’s, we know cross-contamination can make us as sick as eating something filled with gluten. Keep all your gluten-free dishes at one end of the serving table, or set up a separate table for the gluten-free foods so serving utensils aren’t moved around into items with gluten in them.
  6. Enjoy all of the naturally gluten-free foods the holidays have to offer. Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat are all naturally gluten-free. If you eat all natural this holiday season, you’ll be happy, healthy and you may avoid the few extra pounds others put on around the holidays.
  7. Focus on spending time with family and friends. Remember the true reason we celebrate the holidays, to spend time with family and friends. When you focus on the people the food won’t seem as important.

With this plan in mind, I am looking forward to my first gluten-free Thanksgiving.  What are you planning to enjoy at your gluten-free holiday?  Post on my Get Fit Families Facebook Page and let me know your favorite gluten-free holiday food and follow how I’m preparing for a gluten-free holiday and get recipes and more tips to help you have an edible holiday season.