Having a gluten free Thanksgiving is a dream to most Celiac suffers. An array of food with no cross-contamination fears, no gluten in the stuffing, no gluten in the butter. But this is far from most people’s reality, so how do you get through a Thanksgiving meal without being glutened? This is how Julie and I handle Thanksgiving.
The first year after Julie’s diagnosis, we went to Thanksgiving dinner without fully understanding what cross-contamination is. We analyzed the food and determined that only the bread was dangerous, because it was the only food that we knew surely contained gluten. But this was early after her diagnosis, only 4-5 months, so we weren’t overly concerned about the effects of cross-contamination either. Like most meals for her after her diagnosis, she didn’t feel great afterward and for some time after that. We would go through Christmas and the following winter before we met with the right medical professionals and got on the right track.
The second year after her diagnosis, we were much better at understanding how gluten hides and how easy it is to get glutened at a social event. We brought our own food, dished out our plates first and made sure not to handle the other food around the table. It was a much better outcome, but there was still slight cross-contamination from the cooking process. We learned that year that even when extra steps are taken, there is still the possibility of contaminating the food while cooking it.
The third year after her diagnosis, we had great confidence in our ability to avoid gluten. Julie prepared an entire meal for herself (and our daughter on the way) to make sure there was no possibility of being glutened. By this point, Julie established a gluten free blog and read most of the articles available on reputable Celiac/gluten free sources.
You can save yourself the learning curve we experienced by engaging in the gluten free/Celiac community right after you are diagnosed. Read and learn as much as you can about the disease and how to avoid being contaminated by gluten. Reach out to people in the community and ask questions, engage in conversation, and know that you are not alone in the journey to overcome Celiac Disease. A gluten free Thanksgiving is not impossible if you get creative.