Cooking Tips for Thanksgiving with a Chronic Illness

The holidays are a bit of a polarizing issue for many people. On the one hand, there are plenty of reasons to be jolly and merry. Some families can look forward to meeting the newest members, or simply getting to spend time with others. And on the other, it’s a time of year where it’s hard to forget your losses. Whether you’re missing people — or your ability to be in good cheer due to a chronic illness — remember that it’s okay to get stressed out, sad or anxious. Give yourself the emotional space to feel whatever it is you need to feel. If you’re still committed to the holiday with loved ones, we have a few tips to help Thanksgiving dinner go just a little bit smoother for those with a chronic illness.

Have an Escape Hatch or Plan B

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it can be tough to have alternatives waiting in the wings. After all, turkeys aren’t known for cooking themselves! It might be smart to set up an absolute last-ditch backup in case something goes awry. For some, that might look like a call to the nearest open restaurant (did anyone else grow up with Boston Market?). For others, it could be calling a family member the day before to arrange for them to come over to handle the cooking. If you’re attending another person’s Thanksgiving, check in advance with the host if there might be a room for you to lie down in should the day drag on or the number of people starts to get to you.

Embrace the Pre-Made

Have you ever sat down at a Thanksgiving dinner only to have someone turn their nose up at the beautifully made-from-scratch cranberry sauce in favor of the canned stuff? It happens more often than you’d think! Frozen vegetables are great options for healthy side dishes, boxed stuffing is not so secretly delicious, and no one would bat an eyelash at a store bought pie.

Make It About the People

This message is even more important at gift-giving holidays, but remember that Thanksgiving is all about the people. If you’re struggling to put together the turkey solo, asking for help is never a bad idea. You get more time with a loved one and you don’t have to work yourself into a flare- up, ideally.

If you’re lucky enough to spend this Thanksgiving surrounded by family, we hope you can make the most of it in spite of any chronic illnesses.


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Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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