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Planning a Safe and Joyful Thanksgiving

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

With Thanksgiving almost here, many a gluten-free parent has expressed worry about how to keep their child safe. Here are a few tips and considerations to ease your mind around the holiday:

#1: Don't Get Anxious; Get Planning!

The more you think ahead for the little things, the better you’ll be able to handle whatever challenges arise.

#2: Whether or Not You are Hosting, Plan to Contribute a Few Key Dishes.

This little tip goes a long way for any gathering, in fact! If the dinner is at your place, of course you can make the entire event gluten-free (we always do!). Think: cornbread stuffing, GF seasonings, good ol’ fashioned mashed potatoes (dairy-free at our house), easy veggie dishes, and pies made with store-bought or homemade GF crusts.

If you are going to Aunt Roberta’s place or another venue, just cover the most important bases. For us, that meant bringing a GF stuffing, rolls, and dessert (our daughter is also a staunch vegetarian). Most hosts will be more than willing to offer a salad minus croutons (do mention cross-contamination), and you can then throw a safe dressing and clean stick of margarine in your to-go bag. Consider bringing slices of Turkey prepared separately (it blends right in with the rest) if bread stuffing or a non-GF oven is of concern. That said, you do not have to bring the entire meal--just enough to keep your child happily fed.

#3: Remember the “Take Notes on Things You’d Like to Make at Home” Game. In my book I discuss various games you can play to help with rising frustrations at non-gluten-free events. One of these is the “take notes” game. If there’s anything on the table that your child wants but cannot eat, write it in a special notebook you keep with you. That way, you can plan a fun holiday baking/cooking day at home wherein you create one or more of the recipes you wished you could eat--and guess what? Now you can!

#4: Repeat the Mantra, then Repeat it Again: It’s not about the food; it’s about the people, places, and experiences in our lives.

And on that note, may this holiday bring you joy and connection, above all!

--Elyn Joy, author of The Gluten-Free Parent's Survival Guide, offers tips, insight, and great optimism to those parenting a gluten-free child. Go to for more information.

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