4 Tips for a Happy (Gluten-free) Thanksgiving


If gluten isn’t on your Thanksgiving menu, don’t worry. It really is possible to have a delicious dinner that’s entirely gluten-free.

Yes, even the pies.

As someone who gave up gluten after experiencing migraine headaches 20 years ago (and who has had a rare migraine since), I have hosted many delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving dinners. But I’ve also been a guest in homes where gluten-free was knowingly not honored or respected.

Needless to say, I ate very little.

Please don’t be that host. Not only is it inconsiderate, it can also be dangerous. People with the autoimmune disease “celiac disease,” for example, must avoid eating all sources of gluten, which is a protein found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. Eating gluten can trigger reactions ranging from diarrhea and stomach pain to hives and severe difficulty breathing.

For those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can cause headaches, brain fog, extreme fatigue, gas, bloating, and stomach pain.

So what’s a host to do? First, ask questions. Even if you think you know your guests well, ask when the invitation goes out if there are any dietary restrictions. If you do have guests who are on a strict gluten-free diet, let them know there will be gluten-free dishes on the menu.

Once you make those dishes, be sure to mark them—or announce them—gluten-free at your gathering.

Feeling panicked? Don’t be. Modifying recipes to be gluten-free is easier than you think.

Here are 4 tips for making traditional Thanksgiving dishes without wheat/gluten:

  1. Stuffing: Gluten-free bread crumbs are available and are quite tasty.
  2. Gravy: Use rice flour instead of white/whole wheat flour. You can buy rice flour in bulk so you only have to purchase the amount you need.
  3. Green bean casserole: Skip the can of breaded onion strings and make your own with a gluten-free flour, such as almond flour. You can make the creamy sauce using a can of gluten-free cream of mushroom soup, or make your own gluten-free soup.
  4. Pie: Make a crust with crushed nuts, such as walnuts or pecans. You can also buy gluten-free pie crust mixes or prepared pie crusts in the freezer section of many grocery stores.

You can also find endless gluten-free recipes for Thanksgiving online—and more and more grocery stores are offering gluten-free products. But if you just don’t feel comfortable straying from your family’s traditional Thanksgiving recipes, ask your guest to bring a gluten-free menu item. They’ll appreciate that you were thinking about them and their health.

Learn More

If you want to learn more, I invite you to read my past blogs of this issue:

Let’s Talk

Suspect that you might be having issues with gluten? Wondering how you can best support your body nutritionally? If you would like a complete picture of your nutritional status and an individualized plan to meet your nutritional needs, let’s schedule a time to talk. Please email me at terri@yourhealinginsights.com or call me at 319-631-0824.

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