Tips for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Eliminating Gluten From your Holiday Menu is as Easy as Pie

Sticking to a gluten-free diet over Thanksgiving may sound like no fun, but many people don’t have a choice.

“For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it’s never a good time to ‘cheat,’” said Anca Safta, MD, director of the Gluten and Allergic Digestive Disorders program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “But removing gluten from a Thanksgiving menu doesn’t have to take the joy out of the holiday.”

Many traditional Thanksgiving foods – turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, corn – are naturally gluten-free, Safta pointed out.

“But when it comes to pies, stuffing, gravy, etc., gluten-free substitutes may need to be considered,” she said.

Safta offers the following tips on how to eliminate gluten from a Thanksgiving meal so anyone can enjoy it.

Educate Family and Friends

Most people who are aware of the negative effects of gluten on individuals with celiac disease or NCGS – which can include serious pain and intestinal damage – won’t mind going gluten-free for one meal.

Have an Open Mind

Gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free. The gluten-free version of a dish may actually taste better than the original.

Look for the “GF” Label

For most grains, condiments, sauces and dishes that contain gluten, there are gluten-free, or “GF,” alternatives that can be bought at a store or made at home.

Experiment in the Kitchen

Before serving a roomful of people, test and perfect gluten-free recipes.

“What’s a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and macaroni and cheese? Well, there’s no need to find out,” Safta said. “Make the pie crust with gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, and find gluten-free elbows. No one will have to give up his or her favorite dish, just certain ingredients.”