5 Steps to Enjoying Thanksgiving as a Celiac

gluten free thanksgiving
1. Don’t
2. Focus
3. On
4. The
5. Food

So I was gonna do a “what I’m thankful for” post but I have so much to be thankful for, the list would be endless and you’d all either 1) be bored to tears or 2) hate my guts. So I passed.

Then I was going to do a “how to eat safely this Thanksgiving” post (I know…how original). But here’s the problem. That puts the focus on the food. And Thanksgiving, and heck all social gatherings, should really about WHO you are with, not WHAT you are eating. So no…there will be no gluten-free stuffing recipe here; no tips on cross-contamination or eating safely at someone else’s house. I figured most of you are (hopefully) pretty well-schooled on things like this. And if you are a newbie, I’ve got tons of words of wisdom on this site for you.

So my advice to you this Thanksgiving…even if you try it just this once…is enjoy yourself. Laugh. Drink. Talk. Play. Don’t worry about replicating what you used to eat. You’re not gonna die if you don’t have stuffing this year. Honestly. There is no written or unwritten rule about what you must eat on Thanksgiving.

So yeah…take precautions. Be diligent. Blah, blah, blah.

But be THANKFUL for the people you are with and if celiac disease is the worst thing you are dealing with this Thursday, give some serious thanks. It’s an ugly world out there.

Happy holidays everyone. I’m thankful for you all (I know…I said I wasn’t going to do that.)

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20 thoughts on “5 Steps to Enjoying Thanksgiving as a Celiac”

  1. In years past I’ve cooked every single dish so that I know it’s gluten-free. This year, we went visiting a week early. People didn’t feel like they had to have the whole big Thanksgiving spread, we managed to eat gluten-free, and had a great time with family. And on the “actual day,” we’re going to pack some turkey sandwiches, sweet potato pie (all gf), and go on a nice long hike. Like you said, not about the food but about the folks.

  2. Ok, i have to say this. You are right- in theory. The focus should be on the people you are with– not the food. But the reality? Ten years ago, the first Thanksgiving after my diagnosis, I nearly cried. I ate the tureky even tho it had been made with the stuffing inside and it did make me sick., green beans and some sweet potato. That was my whole meal: no appetizer, no dessert, no stuffing, no gravy, nothing else. And while it is true no one ever starved from something like that, and I certainly didn’t, watching everyone else stuff their faces while making fun of me, was not fun. Fast forward- our meal is now gluten-free, dairy-free and corn- free besides being vegan-( except for the bird); everyone enjoys it and we have plenty of delicious food. The point is, it does take time to learn to live this lifestyle, and it can be done with patience, love and a sense of humor!

  3. I’m healed enough that I’ve got the energy to cook, my appetite is back, and I’m having Thanksgiving at my house with immediate family. Lower stress, and this time I am going to focus on the food a little!

  4. My first thanksgiving as a celiac. If I am going to my brothers and his family cooks with gluten in the kitchen, is anything safe to eat?
    I can bring my own food… that’s my guess???

    1. If they are not versed in gluten free then you should assume that everything is not safe. Best to have your own food unless you’ve taken the time to explain gluten free with them and even then unless they embrace it wholeheartedly you shouldn’t trust their food. Good Luck!

      1. I agree. Take a couple of your favorite GF dishes or a plate for your meal and don’t risk getting sick. Tell them you are just happy to be there and spend time with them!

  5. My brother and his wife put on a great dinner with several gluten free dishes that she researched and made sure was safe for me. In fact it all was except for the dressing and maybe gravy I didn’t have. Life is great with family like them. The cigars were also gf of course.

  6. My first Thanksgiving since being diagnosed, too. It all started so well.

    I have a niece who’s doctor has put her on a gluten free diet for issues other than CD or allergies and I have a cousin who has gone gluten free due to undiagnosed rashes, muscle pain, etc. It was nice to have others who appreciated the difficulty of trying to eat gluten free even if for them small exposures didn’t seem to be an issue. My daughter and ex-wife made the gravy with corn starch, no flour, my cousin brought 3 gluten free salads and my daughter also made a gluten free dessert. My mother put soy sauce in the ham glaze so ham, stuffing and rolls were off limits. but overall it’s was a very tasty meal and great fellowship. I drove home that night (3 hour drive) and was starting to get sick by the time I got home. I’ve been gluten free for a little over 3 months and the longer I go gluten free the sicker I get when I get gluted. Not sure how or what got me, but by 3 am I was nauseous, cramping, had a migraine and became extremely depressed. The nausea was a new and unwanted symptom, but the worst was the depression. The next day I was so depressed I had to force myself to eat something and bath. I was an emotional, sobbing wreck. I felt better by Sunday, but still some lingering symptoms.

    I’m already stressed out about Christmas. I really appreciate that my family cares and tried to make Thanksgiving GF for me, but I got so sick. I don’t want to hurt anybodies feelings or seem like I don’t appreciate their efforts, but I don’t ever want to feel that down again. If I get sicker ever time I get gluted how bad will it get next time and the time after that? I know it hasn’t been long enough for my intestines to heal yet, but the symptoms just keep getting worse, I keep losing weight, the peripheral neuropathy (and apparently early stages of ataxia) are getting worse, rashes popping up on my chest and arms, foggy brain and depression.

    Just reread what I wrote, sigh. It reads like someone who’s still depressed. CD sucks!

    1. You have to bring your own foods to events. No matter how hard others try their kitchen is not gluten free. Either stuff yourself at home first or bring your own food only way to be safe.

  7. Cali Celiac, It’s not easy and yes it sucks but here are a few things I have done to make my holiday better for me. And hey, it’s all about me. One, my family does half the table with all the things you’d expect on an American Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately for me, the other half is all Italian. So you can imagine there is nothing for me to eat, even though my father will say, “just a little won’t hurt you” So I bring my own everything. My mom knows how I feel and how I have been glutened in the past. Yet, they don’t even try anymore to make things this way. So I eat nothing but what I bring. I told her it would be easier for me so I don’t make her have to worry – is how I put it. I wanted to say something else but….
    She was so okay with me bringing my own food then. So that worked.
    I had ham, sweet potato casserole, brussel sprout/bacon dish and a 3 ingredient souffle cheesecake. I hate turkey so no problem there. Everyone loves that horrible green bean with mushroom soup casserole that we can’t eat and yet my brussel sprout GF one went first. I had my own meal and still sat at the table with the loved ones. I drank wine which I thank God every day is gluten free. After clean up we all played games, football was watched by some and it was all just fine. (I also brought some snacks ) Don’t allow anyone to make you feel badly because you must bring your own food. You will always know it’s safe. I too have a couple of siblings who like to tease me and say, “oh she has to bring her own food” and roll their eyes. So what? Ignore it, eat well, and have a great time! You’ll feel better in many ways if you can bring your own food – they mean well but they will never get it until they have this dreadful disease.

  8. My favorite post from your site so far!!
    It’s hard not to focus on food during this very food centered holiday. My tip, make your favorite dish(s) to share, or not, and enjoy a festive beverage. That way you’ll feel less left out during dinner.
    Happy thanksgiving!

  9. I agree it’s not about the food, but there is still the issue of what to eat to contend with. So, I am making my own turkey (just a small breast cooked in the pressure cooker) stuffing (corn chip-based) and gravy to bring. And, I am making a GF pumpkin pie so I know I will have dessert. My family is great about the GF thing, but 1) I don’t expect them to cook the turkey without stuffing in it and 2) Now there will be no question that those items are safe. I also have to hover around the table when the pies are brought out to ensure the GF one is separate and that no one uses any “glutened” utensils.

    Bringing your own food takes a lot of the stress away. At least it does for me.

  10. I make sure I plan and cook gluten free and then ask family members to bring whatever side they want. I’ve always had holidays at my house And now I cook what I want. I don’t ask what they want They bring their gluten filled preferenes. I used to cook gf and my family’s gluten favorites. Not any more.
    I do bring my own gf food when I go to someone’s home for dinner. Few really understand the struggle not to be sick

  11. Suggestion: If you’re home for Thanksgiving, but going to someone else’s house for Christmas, make up a tray of the leftovers, cover with plastic wrap or foil tightly, and stick it in the freezer. Take it with you, and all you have to do then is heat it up. This is my plan for Christmas.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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