and the only thing that I can eat is likely the garnish.
For those of us with food allergies, holiday dinners can be a mine field. Nightshades cause your joints to ache? That rules out the mashed potatoes. Corn causes migraines? There goes the gravy and the stuffing. Poultry results in a full body rash? Clearly the turkey isn't safe. And if you avoid gluten and dairy, you should probably put your plate down and step away from the whole spread.
Yet even those who are fortunate enough not to possess a laundry list of food sensitivities are posed with a set of casserole dish-shaped challenges. Anyone attempting to merely maintain a clean diet may be hard pressed to actually find real food on their Thanksgiving table.
The green beans, which were once perfectly plump, lay in a casserole dish hidden beneath a thick mushroomy concoction (courtesy of Campbell's soup). The gelatinous substance hanging out on a serving platter has been dubbed "the cranberries", but it's suspiciously shaped like a tin can. Before being whipped with margarine and dressed with thick gravy, the potatoes were conveniently poured into a pot from a pocket-sized packet. And once the preparation process is nearly complete, it's difficult to tell the difference between the yams and the pie. Have a little sweet potato with your serving of syrup and sugar.
As Americans across the nation gather together with our loved ones to celebrate each other and acknowledge our gratitude for the nourishment we've been blessed with, why don't we actually nourish our bodies with true food? Food that came straight from the farm, not Souffer's stuffing factory. Often times, the purest food in an American Thanksgiving spread is being used as the table's decorative centerpiece.
Currently, 1 in 100 Americans are diagnosed with Celiac Disease(1). That's equates to over 3 million people with autoimmune reactivity to glutenous grains. Astonishingly, 1 in every 10 people have gluten sensitivity and associated immunological effects and inflamation(2). Yet, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, 90% of people don't know it. Many who have issues with gluten are undiagnosed, and struggle with chronic issues or have ascribed their resulting symptoms to something else. This means that at your Thanksgiving dinner table, odds are that one of your guests has likely been diagnosed as gluten intolerant, and a second guest may be sensitive but entirely unaware.
If that isn't reason enough to be aware of what you're serving this holiday season, consider these statistics: by the year 2050 Diabetes may affect as many as 1 in 3 Americans(3).Currently, 1 in 10 adults have diabetes, and the current associated cost to our country is $174 billion annually for diabetes care. Yet in the U.S., the majority of the country continues to consume a diet made up of primarily packaged and processed food. The average American consumes around 180 pounds of sugar every year(4).
Having a gluten free, allergy-friendly and unprocessed Thanksgiving dinner isn't equivalent to making a sacrifice or hindering your ability to eat the "real stuff". These dishes are the real stuff- uncompromised.
So, instead continuing with the trend and assaulting your invaluable body this Thanksgiving, show it some gratitude instead. Celebrate the nourishing food that we have access to by consuming it in its authentic form, sans the inflammatory ingredients. Your body (and your taste buds) will be grateful. You'll likely find that serving such a meal isn't as untraditional or uncomfortable as it sounds, because at the end of the day, you're still gathering around a table with your loved ones to enjoy a beautiful and delicious meal. The only difference will be the array of fresh and vibrant colors on your plate, and the lack of the notorious Thanksgiving "food coma" that takes place after it's consumed.
To make this nutrient-dense and food allergy friendly feast a reality, here is an assortment of Thanksgiving dish ideas that are gluten free, corn free, soy free, refined sugar free, poultry free, egg free, tree nut free, nightshade free, low sulfur (onions and garlic), organic and made up of entirely authentic and unprocessed ingredients:
Gluten and Egg Free Breads and Dinner Rolls:
Naturally Sweet Squash
Poultry-Free Main Entrees:
Vegetarian-Friendly Main Entrees:
Glutenless Grains, Stuffing and Sides:
Sugar and Alcohol-free Clean Drinks:
Alcohol Free Cranberry Ginger "Hot Toddy"
Alcohol Free Cranberry Ginger "Hot Toddy"
Happy, healthy Thanksgiving!