The holidays can be a difficult time to stick to a healthy lifestyle for anyone. This time of year can be especially challenging for those on the low FODMAP regimen. This is because unless you are in charge of preparing the food for Thanksgiving dinner, then it can be hard to know what food is low FODMAP friendly. In turn, you may end up avoiding eating much at all for fear of triggering painful digestive symptoms. This can certainly put a damper on your holiday event. Therefore, use the following tips to help you make low FODMAP choices at your Thanksgiving Day event.
Common Thanksgiving Day foods
Although each dinner table may vary a bit, there are certain dishes that commonly sit on many Thanksgiving Day tables. Besides the typical turkey or ham, here are some common Thanksgiving Day dishes.
- Mashed Potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Green bean casserole
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin Pie
Of these common Thanksgiving Day foods, it can be hard to know if any of them are truly low FODMAP unless you prepared them. That is because some pre-prepared foods, even the turkey or ham, could be seasoned with garlic or onion or glazed with honey or molasses. Also, gravy or gravy mix can sometimes use wheat flour to thicken it, so would be considered high FODMAP. And when it comes to popular holiday dishes like green bean casserole, the cream of mushroom soup commonly used to create this recipe contains wheat flour to thicken it. Not only that but is also contains ingredients like cow’s milk and dehydrated garlic, which are both considered high FODMAP.
Low FODMAP Thanksgiving Day meal tips
The above findings on common Thanksgiving Day foods does not mean you can’t enjoy your holiday meal. Just follow the tips below to plan and prepare a low FODMAP meal and/or make low FODMAP choices this Thanksgiving Day.
- Keep vegetables simply seasoned. This can be harder to do if you are not in charge of making the meal. However, when you are making your plate, stick to lightly seasoned vegetables for your safety. Stay away from cream sauces, heavy seasonings, or vegetable casseroles since they likely contain cow’s milk, wheat, and/or seasonings like garlic or onion. If possible, ask the person preparing the meal to set you some plain vegetables aside, or bring your own contribution to the meal so you know you will have a safe dish to eat during dinner. You can bring along some low FODMAP safe spices to everyone to enjoy so you can add safe flavor to your food if necessary.
- Stick to fresh, unmarinated and unseasoned meats. Before you make your plate, ask the person who prepared the meal (much easier if it’s you!) if the meat or protein being served has been seasoned or marinated. This is an important question because sometimes people marinate, glaze, or rub meats and other proteins in garlic, onion, molasses, or honey, which are all high FODMAP ingredients. If all proteins have been pre-seasoned, then just take a very small portion first to see if you tolerate it. If not, then skip this food and focus on safer choices available.
- Use cornstarch to make your gravy or buy a gluten-free gravy mix. This may not be possible if you are not preparing the meal. However, if you are, then purchase a gluten-free gravy mix to prepare your gravy or use cornstarch as a thickener if you are making gravy homemade. Also, make sure the mix does not contain any garlic or onion.
- Skip the bread or bring your own gluten-free bread. If you are craving bread on your Thanksgiving Day but know that gluten-free bread won’t be available, then bring your own to share. This way, you can enjoy bread at meal time without paying the price of digestive symptom triggers.
- Stick to fruit for dessert or bring your own low FODMAP creation. Most desserts at Thanksgiving Day dinner will be store-bought and/or homemade pies and cakes. Therefore, choose some fruit salad, or bring your own if nobody else volunteers. The other option is to either contribute a gluten-free dessert option such as a pre-prepared Cocoa Crunch Peanut Butter snack or make your own dessert from these delicious low FODMAP dessert recipes.
Take home message
Just because you must restrict certain foods from your diet, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a holiday meal. With a little bit of preparation, planning, and willpower you can enjoy your Thanksgiving Day meal without digestive discomfort. It can also help to either send the meal planner your travel card ahead of time (unless it’s you) or ask politely several days in advance to have some safe, unseasoned foods set aside for you. You could also volunteer to bring a safe dish as a last resort. This way you can enjoy your meal and be thankful for spending time with loved ones instead of worrying about triggering symptoms on Thanksgiving Day. Happy Thanksgiving!
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com