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It’s my favorite time of year! I love Thanksgiving. It is my all time favorite holiday. The food is just so good and I love reflecting on all the things I have to be grateful for. I know Thanksgiving is going to look really different for lots of households and families this year and it tears me up knowing that so many people will be spending the holidays without their loved ones.
My family is planning to still do Thanksgiving together. It is just the six of us (my parents and 3 siblings). My extended family is pretty small and we unfortunately don’t have any living grandparents. Given our tiny family, we are still planning on doing Thanksgiving together. I know everyone’s situation might look different and that is ok! My dad is having every family member get tested for COVID-19 this week and next week to confirm everyone is good to go.
No matter what your Thanksgiving day might look like this year, I wanted to touch on something that came up during a Friendsgiving my friends and I had last weekend – food allergies!
One of my best friends was just recently diagnosed with celiac disease and is now gluten-free. I grew up with a younger sister who is also celiac so I was well-versed in all things gluten-free and knew how to accommodate her allergy! Thankfully, all our friends worked to bring gluten-free food so she could still enjoy every dish. After all it’s FRIENDS-giving, no point in her sitting out on all the fun.
Accommodating food allergies can be tricky especially during the holidays when you have out of town guests and family members that might have developed new allergies. Working to serve food during the holidays that meets everyone’s dietary needs can quickly become stressful. I wanted to share a few tips to hopefully make the transition easier and more inclusive for everyone!
SHARE ALLERGY CONCERNS BEFORE THE BIG DAY
Ideally this would fall on the host to confirm all the attendees dietary needs are met by reaching out to everyone and asking if there are specific foods to avoid. However, if you are one with a food allergy, you should also speak up and make the host aware that you need accommodations. There is nothing worse than showing up to a dinner at someone’s house and throwing at them that you don’t eat meat or can’t eat dairy. Be respectful of the host and vice versa. If you are bringing guests that might not know the host be sure to let them know as they likely won’t be comfortable letting the host know themselves.
DON’T START FROM SCRATCH
When my younger sister became gluten-free, my whole family worried we would have to give up our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. If someone has a food allergy, look at the ingredients in the recipe and look to substitute them out. I know a lot of people will search for example “gluten-free stuffing” if they are looking to make something gluten-free but really just using your normal favorite recipe and changing out the regular flour with gluten-free flour is all it takes! I promise it won’t taste different at all.
In cooking it is easier to substitute ingredients than in baking. If your apple pie recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter and your in-laws are diary free you may need to look into finding a new recipe because baking is such an exact science. But with cooking, you can easily substitute out ingredients and won’t lose the flavor or consistency of your favorite dishes.
BE SURE TO EXPLAIN THE LIMITATIONS OF THE ALLERGY
My sister runs into this all the time with her gluten-free allergy. She will tell a server at a restaurant that she is gluten-free and they will ask if she can have corn or rice which she can. So just be sure to be super clear with the host on what the limitations of your allergy are because not everyone might be knowledgeable on what the allergy consists of. This will create clear communication on what exact foods the host should avoid and give them more options!
BRING YOUR OWN ACCOMMODATING FOOD
If you have a food allergy, offer to help the host by bringing a dish that accommodates your food allergy. This will alleviate any stress you might have going into the occasion and also help the host who might not be familiar with your allergy. I would aim to bring a food that is more commonly trickier to make with your allergy. For example, stuffing for someone who is gluten-free or a non-meat option if you are vegetarian.
Food allergies are so common these days it is best to ask your guests if they have any to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible! I know my sister really appreciates it when people work to accommodate her allergy.