Surviving Thanksgiving: Keto, Gluten Free and Dairy Free

Posted by Gabe Wolff on November 07, 2017

Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Keto, Gluten Free, and Dairy Free

From stuffing to yams, pecans to pecan pie, pumpkin pie to pumpkin spice lattes, the holidays are upon us with an abundance delicious, yet harmful, foods...

And while for many of us, it is a time of unwinding and carb-o-loading for the winter, there are a few of us for whom this time can spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e health-wise (present company included...).

The Thanksgiving Table - Orientation

When one sits at the Table of Thanks, the piles of gluten, hidden dairy, and oh, so much sugar is enough to overwhelm. If you're like myself, you've succumbed to these temptations, only to feel bloated, sick, tired and generally hung-over from November 25th thru January 2nd...

Soup or Salad?

While the thought of having an appetizer for Thanksgiving seems counterintuitive (why waste precious internal real estate on an appetizer?), some people do decide to put out a soup or a salad.

Avoid: Butternut Squash Soup. 

Sounds nice, squash is clean, gluten free and dairy free, right? Until your soup is also carrying butter, cream and sugar to make the concoction only squash in color alone.

Believe me, I've suffered way too many sick nights after eating what I thought was "vegetable-based" soup.

Load Up: Fall Salad.

The dried cranberries in it won't be enough to kick you out of ketosis, so long as you increase the oil.

Side of What?

With mashed this and stuffed that, the opportunities for dairy and gluten contamination (not to mention you being kicked out of ketosis until next year) are endless.

Avoid: Mashed Sweet Potatoes 

While they sound lower in carbs, and are considered "paleo", please, don't be fooled. Sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving sound like a healthy safety valve, but often times, they're cooked in butter and sweetened with loads of sugar, because, hey, they're supposed to be sweet, right?

Load up : Green beans and slivered almonds 

Often times cooked in oil instead of butter, and delivering more nutritional benefit than the mashed root vegetables, these green power houses will go great with that gravy and turkey.

Bonus, the fact that you have to chew it (unlike mashed potatoes) means you're tricking your brain into signaling "satisfaction" sooner!

The Bird

Where's that Turkey!

While turkey is going to be the star, and probably the safest dish on the Thanksgiving menu, there are ways to make sure you're doing it right.

(this mainly applies to keto)

Avoid: White Meat 

White meat is the leanest part of the bird. It's also the driest, and has the least amount of satiating fat.

Load Up: Thighs and Legs  

You'll require less gravy to get the desired flavor you're looking for. Plus, you're usually going to have enough for seconds, as most people are still going for the white meat...

The Sauce

To cranberry, or not to cranberry. That tis the question.

Avoid: Cranberry Sauce 

9.9 times out of 10, the cranberry sauce is not just mashed up cranberries, but instead is loaded with cups of table sugar.

Load Up: Gravy 

With one caveat: most gravies require a thickening agent, and that's only if your host is using the drippings instead of a powder mix. The default for a lot of these is wheat flour, because why not add gluten to everything...

If your host is aware of your sensitivity, ask that they use arrowroot, tapioca, or even corn starch to thicken the gravy instead.

No luck? Ask to have some dripping set aside for you separately.


No way around this one, you're most likely going to need to avoid everything at this round.

However, if you bring your own, from, er, any of the the one hundred recipes we've shared with you, you'll probably be in the clear. I'm still eating the pecan pumpkin spice cookies from last week!



How do you keep your Thanksgiving clean and healthful?

Share in the comments section below!