As I write this, we are a little over a week away from celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is the holiday of the “Four F’s”- faith, family, food, and football. For anyone with Celiac disease, filling up your Thanksgiving plate means avoiding certain foods, even foods you’ve eaten your entire life.
This will be my second Thanksgiving since my Celiac disease diagnosis, and I would like to encourage and inform others who may be wondering how they can enjoy the holiday. Celiac disease, like other conditions, requires a drastic lifestyle change. Depending on the severity of your gluten allergy, it’s not wise to “have a cheat day,” as it could make you sick.
It’s easy to dwell on what you can’t eat if there is no gluten-free alternative. As in my case, Thanksgiving now means no dumplings, no macaroni and cheese, no rolls, no stuffing, no gravy, no green bean casserole if it’s made with cream of mushroom soup (cream of mushroom soup, like many other soups contains wheat flour). Desserts made with wheat flour can take many pies, cakes, and cookies off the table (pardon the pun).
All is not lost, however. If your family is anything like mine, there will be other food options. The key is not to dwell on what you can’t eat, but to enjoy what you can eat. Turkey and ham are naturally gluten-free (however, the broth may not be gluten free, so please insist on a gluten-free broth), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, peas, sweet potatoes (candied yams if you prefer), traditional green beans, and other fruits and vegetable dishes are naturally gluten free. As I have learned over the last year-and-a-half, there are many gluten-free alternatives, which include breads, pastas, pie crusts, desserts, soups. If you know that there will be a lot of the traditional gluten-filled food, you do have the option to bring something you can eat, or ask someone to prepare a side dish if cooking is not your forte. For example, I didn’t miss out on dessert because my wife and sister both prepared gluten-free pies and cakes. There are plenty of gluten-free recipes on the Internet and in various cookbooks. I have listed some links below if you would like more information for yourself or a loved one who has Celiac disease and want to enjoy Thanksgiving. God bless.