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8 Tips For Being a Gluten-Free Guest on Thanksgiving

Being gluten-free during the best of times can be a challenge. Throw in the holidays and a gluten-filled hosted dinner, and it can be downright intimidating. Thanksgiving might be the biggest challenge of them all - a major holiday centered on food where many of the dishes are potentially unsafe. The last thing anyone wants is to walk away from the dinner table feeling ill.

To help keep gluten-free guests happy and healthy this year, here's a list of 8 ways to make the Thanksgiving table less stressful and more enjoyable.

  1. Offer to bring a dish. This is the easiest way to insure against starvation. Think of the worse case scenario, and if you have only one dish you know is safe and gluten-free, let that be the dish you suggest to bring. If you don’t want to miss out on pumpkin pie…offer to bring a gluten-free pumpkin pie!
  2. Do your homework. I find I am more comfortable if I can talk to the host/hostess ahead of time and let them know about my food restrictions, and ask a couple of questions about what they are planning to prepare. Of course this is easier if you know them well, but it is completely appropriate to let your hostess know your needs.
  3. Be a gracious guest.  The more polite you are to your host, whether it is at a restaurant, or someone’s home, the more willing they will be to learn about your needs and accommodate you. Let them know you are sensitive to their challenges too - a house filled with guests isn't always a walk in the park! 
  4. Stock up on snacks. Always have a back-up plan. If all else fails, keep healthy snacks on hand, in case you are left without a safe option. It may not be the most fun option, but considering the alternative, it is the smartest.
  5. Don’t arrive hungry. Going to someone else’s house and not knowing what awaits can be distressing for those with food allergies/intolerances. Have a protein-filled snack beforehand, and you will be more likely to make sensible decisions.
  6. Ask questions. Don’t be shy, and don’t feel embarrassed. Ask questions about ingredients, brand names or how something was prepared. If you ask nicely, people will be happy to share this information with you.
  7. Don’t take chances. That turkey may look great, but when you find out it was cooked with the stuffing, it's off limits. Don’t risk it, play it safe. It can be tough to pass on that attractive pumpkin pie, but it’s not worth it.
  8. Enjoy yourself. Try not to stress, eat what you know is 100% safe, and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends.
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