Invitation to the Family Thanksgiving Dinner with Multiple Food Allergies

Thanksgiving weekend is almost here. A time to give thanks. As I sit here, reflecting back on my life (chaos and all), I am truly thankful for family, friends and my health.

Getting together with family to enjoy the best of fall’s harvest reinforces that feeling of thankfulness.

To simplify celebrating holidays between families, we celebrate Thanksgiving with my husband’s family (his birthday falls in and around Thanksgiving) and Easter with my family. (my birthday falls in and around Easter)

The job of hosting Thanksgiving is rotated between Andy’s mom, sister and myself. As I hosted last year, his sister has volunteered to host this year.

Thanksgiving dinner typically includes: Roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy, fresh bread or buns, and of course pumpkin and apple pie. (possibly a birthday cake)

Introducing multiple food allergies into the equation of celebrating with food, can be a challenge. Clear, open communication between all parties involved is necessary to help ease the tension that can arise.

Michael has multiple food allergies to dairy, eggs, beef, peanuts/tree nuts,sesame, fish, shellfish and raspberries and Matthew to peanuts/tree nuts.

After receiving our invitation to my sister-in-laws Thanksgiving Dinner, I emailed our acceptance. I sent a reminder of both the boys’ food allergies. I inquired as to what, on the dinner menu, would be safe for the boys’ to eat.

I offered to bring the fresh bread and dessert (apple pie and/or chocolate birthday cake) to help out with the festivities.(bakery bread and baked goods are not safe as they may contain trace amounts of peanut/tree nuts, dairy, egg and sesame)

My sister-in-law sent a break down of the menu. The roasted turkey’s stuffing will include beef. (a separate turkey breast will be cooked) The mashed potatoes will be made with butter and milk (some of the boiled potatoes will be set aside), and the gravy will be cross-contaminated with the beef from the stuffing. My sister-in-law will be baking a pumpkin pie which will include dairy products. The carrots will be safe.

In the past, Michael has eaten the separate turkey breast, boiled potatoes and the safe vegetables along with the safe bread and pie that I bring. This year will be different.

Like everyone else, Michael anticipates the mouth-watering feast that emanates from the oven. Tantalizing aromas fill the air as the Thanksgiving dinner is lovingly put together.

Slices of roasted turkey with safe gravy is the one meal Michael looks forward to every year. He is acquiring a taste for safe stuffing and loves garlic mashed potatoes. Not to mention leftovers for sandwiches the next day!

In order to make this happen, I have ordered the smallest fresh turkey from Buckingham’s Meat Market. (8-9 lbs) I will roast the turkey with safe stuffing, make a gravy and whip up safe garlic mashed potatoes to bring along for his Thanksgiving dinner.

Why am I doing this?

I am thankful for all the times my sister-in-law (and mother-in-law) have graciously offered and made safe food substitutions for Michael. Without seeming ungrateful, a side order of turkey breast and boiled potatoes just isn’t the same. I want Michael to enjoy a full Thanksgiving meal like the rest of the family.

In the past, Michael has observed and helped me make his safe stuffing and gravy.This experience will give him the opportunity to learn to roast a turkey and cook garlic mashed potatoes with me at home.

Enquiring about and making safe food options will always follow Michael throughout his life. Better to learn how to navigate within these boundaries when he is young. It will aid him on his journey in life. A  journey that will soon enough be his alone.

P.S. How do you manage family celebrations with food allergies? I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment.

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4 thoughts on “Invitation to the Family Thanksgiving Dinner with Multiple Food Allergies

  1. You’re a great mom! 🙂 We’ll be celebrating this year at my SIL’s but I doubt there will be anything “safe” for me to eat, and shes not used to cooking at all, so making sure food is allergy free & not cross contaminated is a whole new world for her. I have a tonne of food allergies, so honestly, I’ll probably just eat something fast here then not eat when we’re out. Sad as that is… :/

    • Hi Carla- Thank you for your comment! I know how frustrating eating away from home can be. Start with ‘baby steps’ Find out what is on the menu. As your sister-in-law is not familiar with cooking, offer to bring something that would supplement as a meal for you and/or offer to help out in the kitchen to limit any cross-contamination. I wrote a book review blog on the book Allergic Girl adventures in living well with food allergies by Sloane Miller. I think you would enjoy reading about how she navigates eating out and travelling with food allergies. Not sure of your food allergies, but I will be blogging recipes for dairy, egg and soy free apple pie and roasted red pepper bruschetta that I will be taking to share with family this Thanksgiving weekend. This could be the start of a new tradition! ~ Susan H.

  2. As a dietitian, I read your blog with interest and may direct people to your it. But I am also cheering on that your boys are getting involved. It’s so valuable, allergies or not.
    Gillian

    • Hi Gillian-Thank you for your comment! I appreciate you spreading word about my blog. You are right: learning to read ingredient lists, nutritional labels and how to prepare healthy foods for themselves are invaluable skills for all children. A challenge for us all to take up! ~ Susan H.

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