Navigating Thanksgiving with Food Sensitivities: 5 Tips for Being a Gracious Guest

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love fall, family, and food- and this holiday combines all three! My sister and I usually tag team the meal, and her yearly staples of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and black botton pie are some of my favorite treats of the year. Beau just got one of his bucket list items, a Santa Maria style grill that he can slow cook tri-tips on for hours. He loves to be outside, listening to music, drinking a good glass of wine, and chatting with friends while he tends to the meat. We’ll be doing some tri-tips outside, and a turkey inside!

At this point in my health journey, I pretty much eat whatever I want. I know what foods mess me up for sure (I stay away from broccoli and am not sorry about it!). But I’ll eat some bread and some desserts and some macaroni and cheese because FOOD IS GOOD. Food sensitivities are very real, but they can also be very transient as we work on healing the gut and the nervous system. The body has a beautiful capacity to heal when it is not stuck in fight-or-flight mode, and my objective with myself and every client is to slowly add more foods instead of restricting foods in perpetuity.

But for many women, food sensitivities are a pressing issue, and the holidays become a bit of a dance. I’m here to help! I’ve got five tips to ensure you’re not just a Thanksgiving guest but a gracious one who still protects her boundaries.

1. Communicate:

Don’t keep your food sensitivities under wraps. Shoot your host a message beforehand and gently let them in on your dietary needs. Offer to whip up a dish that fits the bill. This not only ensures you’ve got something safe to munch on but also takes the load off your host. As I tell my clients, “everyone and their literal grandmother is gluten free”- so most hostesses won’t think twice about accommodating various dietary restrictions. It’s pretty common these days. State your case, offer to bring something awesome, and move on. Try this recipe out:

2. Dish Out Deliciousness:

Become the unsung hero of Thanksgiving by bringing a dish that’s not just safe for you but a crowd-pleaser. Whether it’s a gluten-free stuffing or a dairy-free dessert, your culinary creation will steal the show. Your host will be grateful, and you’ll have a guaranteed safe option on the table. I’ve got a few options for you here:

3. No, Thanks – Master the Art of Declining:

Politely pass on dishes that don’t align with your sensitivities. No need for a grand explanation—just a simple “No, thank you” with a smile will do. This is about taking care of yourself without turning the dinner table into a lecture hall. Just move on. Everyone is there for the food and fellowship, not your sensitivities. Everyone is more concerned about the cute things your 3-year-old nephew is saying, I promise!

4. Educate, Don’t Overwhelm:

Thanksgiving isn’t the time for a food sensitivity seminar, but if someone’s genuinely curious, share a few tidbits. Keep it light, share your experiences, and sprinkle in some awareness. You might just spark a little enlightenment. But keep in mind, only talk about your experience if someone asks. When in doubt, direct the conversation back to the other person, or something else entirely.

5. Fill up Ahead of Time:

If the dining table is looking like it will be an allergen obstacle course, just eat at home first. Chow down on some protein, a big helping of carrots (!), and some gluten free goodies. Grab whatever you can from the communal table to enjoy a meal with your loved ones. Maybe bring a thermos full of the Hot Chocolate Cravings Buster.  This way, you’re part of the festivities without compromising your health.

Being a great Thanksgiving guest is about finding that sweet spot between safeguarding your well-being and soaking in the holiday cheer. So, communicate, contribute, decline with a smile, sprinkle in some education, and create your Thanksgiving haven. Here’s to a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, joy, and a side of understanding.

Wishing you a delightful Thanksgiving,


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