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Hosting a food allergy-free Thanksgiving

November 1, 2023

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy delicious food, but for those with food allergies, it can be a stressful holiday. As a host, it’s important to ensure that everyone feels included and safe when it comes to mealtime.

In this post, we’ll explore some best practices for hosting an allergy-free Thanksgiving, including a list of foods to serve and how to avoid common allergens. With a little extra planning, hosting a Thanksgiving feast can be enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.

Obtain a list of allergies from your guests in advance

As a host, it’s important to know what foods your guests can and cannot eat. To ensure that each guest feels safe and included, request a list of allergies far enough in advance to plan around it.

Make sure to ask about the severity of the allergy and if the individual is comfortable having that allergen at the table at all. There is the possibility they could come into contact with it from someone else having the allergen on their hands, serving utensils, or incidents like children grabbing food that is not on their plates.

As soon as you receive this list, research recipes or dishes that will accommodate each individual need. Having an understanding of the specific allergies your guests have will go a long way in creating a pleasant and safe mealtime.

Include allergy-free Thanksgiving options for each course

When hosting an allergy-free Thanksgiving, be sure to include multiple options for each course.

This will not only accommodate those with allergies but will give everyone a variety of dishes to choose from. For example, if one guest is allergic to wheat, consider offering both gluten-free stuffing and traditional stuffing.

If someone is allergic to dairy, provide non-dairy options such as almond milk for mashed potatoes. By having multiple options, everyone can enjoy the meal without having to worry about their allergies.

Always label food clearly

A great way to ensure guests with food allergies feel included is to clearly label each dish. Assign a small card to each dish with the name of the dish and any allergens it may contain.

This will prevent guests from having to ask multiple times what is in each dish and allow them to feel more at ease when it comes to mealtime. This is especially important if you are doing more of a pot-luck-style gathering and food is coming from multiple kitchens.

Communicate the importance of those cooking to include all ingredients on their labels because those without allergies are often unaware of the items hidden in ingredients.

Avoid the most common allergens

Some of the most common allergens include dairy, wheat, nuts, soy, and eggs. When planning your Thanksgiving menu, try to avoid those ingredients altogether.

There are plenty of allergy-friendly alternatives available, such as almond flour in place of wheat flour in baked goods.

Also, be sure to read labels carefully and avoid foods containing common allergens. If you’re unsure about a particular ingredient, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Once you know your guest’s allergen, look for them hidden in the ingredients, so reading labels carefully is a priority. Read how to understand your food labels better.

Serve simple, homemade, allergy-free Thanksgiving dishes

Simpler, homemade dishes are often the safest option for those with allergies. By preparing food from scratch, you have complete control over what goes into each dish.

Avoiding pre-made sauces, marinades, and dressings can also help reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Simple dishes like roasted vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, and turkey are allergy-friendly options that most people can enjoy. There are lots of allergy-friendly recipes available so you don’t have to come up with your own.

This sample menu includes foods that you can prepare easily without common allergens.

  • Roasted turkey (avoid fried turkey as the oil could be an issue)
  • Dairy-free mashed potatoes or roasted herb potatoes
  • Oven-roasted garlic, bacon, and brown sugar green beans.
  • Raw veggie platter with your choice of dairy-free ranch
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Skillet caramel apple crisp – Find the recipe here

Hosting an allergy-free Thanksgiving may require extra planning and preparation, but it’s worth it to ensure everyone feels comfortable and included.

By obtaining a list of allergies, including multiple options for each course, avoiding common allergens, serving homemade dishes, and labeling food clearly, you can create a safe and enjoyable meal for all. Remember, the holidays are a time to come together and celebrate, and with a little extra effort, everyone can do so without worrying or stressing about allergies.

Medically Reviewed By: Lynn Watkins, FNP-C
Reviewed on: October 28, 2023

Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts goes over each article carefully to make sure the information is correct and that only reliable sources are used.

We regularly check to see if the info in this article matches up with the latest scientific research and expert advice so that we can give you the most up-to-date information. See list of trusted resources here.

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