How to Host Thanksgiving with Mixed Dietary Restrictions

It used to be that everyone at the table ate pretty much the same thing, but with so many new eating lifestyles and allergy considerations it can be almost impossible to make just one meal.

Here are a few tips to make sure just about anyone can enjoy at least some of the food, regardless of their diet.

Dietary Restrictions

Versatile Food

The food itself isn’t versatile – it’s how you prepare and setup the food for your guests. If you tried to make dishes for every dietary preference, food allergy or restriction out there, you’d likely give up! You can take the guess work out of figuring out each individual new diet fad by making just a few small changes to the food you prepare. Start with food that works with many different diets.

For example, steamed or roasted vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, garden salad, mushroom gravy, etc. Put items on the side that you’d normally combine such as brown sugar, nuts, dressing, sauces and butter. Let your guests add their own.

This doesn’t mean you can’t make your famous green bean casserole or roast a turkey. Make it just the way you normally do and set aside a small amount of the green beans without the ingredients that make it famous. Most importantly, use the “leave a little aside rule” for any recipes containing nuts, gluten or dairy. For example, boil your potatoes all together then set some aside before adding milk and butter.

There are also a ton of ingredient substitutions that can be used if you spend the time to do your research. Not everyone will eat every dish you prepare, but you will be able to serve dinner knowing that ALL of your guests have some options to fit their individual preferences or dietary needs.

Label Food with Ingredients

The most full-proof way to ensure everyone is comfortable with what food they choose is to label each item with their ingredients. At a minimum, especially if you have guests with unknown allergies or restrictions, label foods that have ingredients associated with most standard food allergies. These include dairy, nuts and gluten.

Remember to prepare all food with these ingredients in a designated area away from the regular food and use different utensils for food preparation and serving.