Food for Thought: Managing Expectations for Thanksgiving 2020
Just like everything else in 2020, Thanksgiving will be different! Your table may not be overflowing with the laughter of a large family gathering like usual, but amidst the pandemic this year’s Cornucopia should be filled with gratitude for good health and safety of all.
At family gatherings, food becomes cardinal - it seems to be the focal point. Excessive expectations by extended family members often makes handling food allergies at Thanksgiving challenging, as we’ve covered extensively on FoodAllergyLowdown.
It is imperative to remember that advocating for yourself or your child with food allergies at the dinner table isn’t about the emotions of the host; it is about the individual’s safety. While it is important to embrace tradition, it is critical that we make the necessary adaptations so everyone can participate safely and comfortably.
The dinner table may not be the right place to discuss food allergies, but it is imperative that anyone at the table with food allergies stays away from certain foods. Simple short sentences when framed well can give you a sense of empowerment and control. You do not need to justify, make excuses or get into a reasoning match.
When being offered a food or dish that you are staying away from due to allergies, gauge your host. If necessary, be firm and say, “I don’t want” vs “I can’t have.” In saying “don’t” you create a loop that reminds you that you are in control and you limit the time spent on the discussion, vs “can’t” serves as a reminder to you and others around of a limitation.
Be assertive and use the power of saying no. “No” is a powerful two letter word!