Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Navigating Holiday Dinners
Written by Shauna Faulisi
Not everyone is going to understand your family’s dietary restrictions and food allergies — but that’s okay! Your family’s health is its own responsibility and I’m here to help you own that power and give you tips to navigate the table so you and your family can continue to thrive!
As the founder of Soul Wellness Method, a concierge nutrition and lifestyle practice working with celebrities and high-performing clients all over the world, I understand the struggle of wanting to stick to your goals while traveling and/or being a guest in someone else’s home. I also understand the appeal of wanting to pack your own meals but that might leave you feeling excluded, and we want you feeling included! The key to staying on track during the holidays is to focus on the fact the 90% of the day is about gathering, community, and love. We know that food is still a big part in holidays and we’re giving you our top tips to navigate the holidays that allow for you and your family to still feel included in the meal and process.
Stick To Your Routine and Eat Breakfast
Just because there’s going to be a plethora of food during the holidays doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t approach the day eating how you normally would. In fact, your routine is what will keep you feeling happy and grounded! Studies have shown that when we skip meals we end up consuming more later. This is most likely due to unbalanced insulin levels and a spike in cortisol (our body’s stress hormone) when our body goes without food to too long. This hormonal combination makes us ravenous! Keep your body calm and stabilized by eating a protein, vegetable, and fat-filled breakfast like eggs with avocado and salad, or our signature Soul Wellness Glow Smoothie. Go on with your daily routine and treat the holiday like it’s another day, and know in your heart that the day is a tad more special!
If you’re in charge of your family’s diet then you’ll want to have a good idea of how you’re going to navigate the day. Picture how you’re going to handle the hectic travel, the meal, your relatives, and most importantly, yourself. Take 30-60 minutes for yourself to go for a walk, work out, or my favorite — take your time getting dressed and sneak some quiet time in then! Picture how you’re going to go about the day with a sense of grace, groundedness, and strength. Without having to say anything, everyone will feed off your energy.
Curb Your Appetite
If you’re traveling to friends or family, have a mini-meal before you head over. It’s important that you and the family don’t show up hungry to the day’s events because just like we said earlier, we tend to make poor decisions when we’re hungry. To keep it easy, cut some raw veggies, pull some protein of our your fridge (rotisserie chickens are our favorite because it makes meal prep so easy!), and scoop some guacamole or sliced avocado on each plate. The combination of the veggies, protein, and fat will normalize hunger and keep your family feeling calm.
Choose what you’re indulging in
What are you looking forward to the most? Is it the mash potatoes, pie, or your favorite cocktail or wine!? Decide before you show up to dinner what your thing is going to be. Enjoy every bite or sip, and keep the rest clean.
Eat In Courses
If you’re able to show up to your holiday gatherings already following the previous steps, dinner time is going to be easy! The key to navigating large group meals, whether buffet or family style, is take inventory of what’s available and then eat in course.
- Your first course will be vegetables. If you know that you’re not amongst a veggie-loving crowd, go ahead and make that the dish you bring! Fill your plate up with salad and any other above-ground veggies that you see. I’d stay away from the heavy root veggies like squash and mashed potatoes until your next course. If you can fill up on the fiber from the vegetables in your first course, the rest of your dinner and dessert time will be a breeze! Check out our easy fall salad in the recipe section.
- Your second course will be your main. This is the food you’ve been looking forward to all year! You’ll want half of your plate to be filled with vegetables — roasted veggies are wonderful and super easy to make. You’ll find the recipe here. ¼ of your plate will have your protein — skip the gravy unless your positive it’s gluten free. Ask your host if they can save you some of the juice from the bird before they mix it into a gravy. Lastly, your remaining ¼ can be for that item you love the most should you decide that you’re indulging.
Most importantly, make sure you’re enjoying yourself. The holidays are special and should be treated as such. These moments with family and friends are fleeting so focus on what’s truly important in your life and show up for yourself and your family.
If you’re hosting or bringing a plate, find our crowd pleasing, Soul Wellness holiday recipes here. We made them extra delicious so you can’t go wrong!
SWM Tip: What foods should I consider “safe?” Eating whole foods in their pure form like vegetables, protein, and meats will keep you in the clear but it’s their delicious counterparts like dips, gravies, and toppings that are dangerous. Make those yourself or just steel clear.
When in doubt, always pack some of your child’s favorite GF/CF snacks! When options are limited, at least you still have a backup plan ready. 😉