Thanksgiving and Food Allergies
Thanksgiving is a joyous time for friends and family to get together to give thanks and to feast on good food. Are you hosting this year? What if one of your guests has a food allergy? Do not fear. Planning in advance will help ensure everyone’s safety if you are creating the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Approximately 8% of children and 5% of adults have a food allergy. The most common food allergens include: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, shellfish, and soy. Keep in mind that in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the most likely allergens are dairy, nuts, wheat, and soy. Fortunately, there are safe substitutions or alternative ingredients that you can use in your recipes. So, what can you do to ensure a safe day for everyone at your gathering?
First things first, ASK. Ask all members who will be attending your Thanksgiving feast if they have any food allergies. Food allergies can develop over time so it is very important to ask if anyone has developed a new allergy to food. Be sure to inform your guests of what you will be serving as well as what foods you will not be serving. You can still include unsafe foods but have plenty of safe options for those with allergies and label them clearly so everyone knows. If there is a dish that is requested but would require a lot of modifications, don’t be afraid to ask your guest to bring the special dish themselves to share.
Make sure to tell anyone with food allergies to bring their adrenaline auto-injector (EpiPen/AuviQ) with them. When preparing food, try to prevent cross
contamination. And always be sure to read the ingredients before using them in your dishes.
Common Thanksgiving Foods that contain allergens
Turkey: Some people are allergic to turkey itself. Keep in mind that self-basting turkeys can include dairy, soy, and wheat. A natural turkey is a good alternative since by law it can only contain turkey and water. Or, another possibility is to serve chicken or beef.
Stuffing: The common allergen is wheat. An alternative is the wheat-free stuffing. There are also a couple recipes that are free from common food allergens that can be found here: https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org
Mashed Potatoes: The common allergen is milk and wheat. An alternative would be substituting chicken broth for milk. Instead of butter, use soy free margarine.
Gravy: The common allergen is wheat, dairy, and soy. Avoid the pre-made gravy or gravy packets. Try making it with pan drippings from the meat or poultry and use wheat/gluten free flour to thicken the gravy, gluten free broth, and soy free margarine.
Pumpkin Pie: Contains milk and wheat. There are great recipes on kidswithfoodallergies.org that do not contain either ingredient. You can offer another dessert, or, for those with an allergy to milk or wheat, have them bring their own dessert to share.
If you want to maximize your Thanksgiving feast, be sure to meet with one of our providers so you can better understand food allergies for yourself, your loved ones and your guests. We offer food allergy testing and oral food challenges as appropriate.