Reviews: Allergy, Gluten-Free Resource Books

in Resources, Reviews
Published: December 4, 2013

New: Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It
By Scott H. Sicherer, MD
Johns Hopkins Press, $22.95

Whether your family is new to the world of food allergies or you have lingering questions following a visit to your allergist’s office, Dr. Scott Sicherer’s newly revised book is a gold mine of information. In this ultimate guide to food allergies, he tackles 1,000 questions in an engaging, easy-to-follow format.

The allergy expert explores the latest theories on risk factors for developing food allergies, describes odd emerging allergies to pectin and citrus seeds, explains when airborne allergy is a risk, and has advice on handling food allergy bullying. He also offers thorough information on avoiding cross-contact. You’ll return to this invaluable resource again and again. – Mariam Matti

See Also: Dr. Sicherer Tackles Crucial Food Allergy Questions

Food Allergies and College: Your Complete Planning Guide
By Jan Hanson
East Coast Printing, $15.95

When it comes to college and food allergies, Jan Hanson is here to show parents and students the secrets of mastering this daunting process. Starting from the ins and outs of housing and residence life, dining, health and disability services, Hanson demystifies the college planning process and offers helpful checklists, real-world insights and examples.

Speaking from experience as a former college administrator, Hanson writes of how to find the right school, research services and manage on-campus visits. candid tips for parties, dating and alcohol drive home the looming social challenges, while offering realistic suggestions.

Rounding out this pragmatic guide are food allergy basics and information on laws that protect students with food allergies. Hanson’s book acts as a handy guide for food allergy parents who are preparing for their child’s big college adventure and want to keep those gray hairs at bay. –Caroline Moassessi

MAYO CLINIC Going Gluten Free - JacketMayo Clinic Going Gluten Free
By Joseph A. Murray, MD
Time Home Entertainment, Inc., $25.95

You’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease and are flummoxed by all the conflicting information about the gluten-free diet. Heavily promoted books scream that gluten, the protein in wheat, rye and barley, is bad, bad, bad for everybody! Meantime, headlines cast doubt on the very existence of gluten disorders.
But don’t despair. To help guide you and separate facts from fiction, the Mayo Clinic has published Going Gluten-Free, a definitive layperson’s guide to celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and emerging issues like FODMAP disorders. Think of it as ‘Celiac A to Z,’ with the underlying theme that your illness does not define you.

Written by Mayo gastroenterologist Dr. Joseph Murray, it covers the gamut from medical explanations, to detailing what gluten is, when it is a problem, and onward to recipes and what to watch for when grocery shopping. (See our Q&A with Dr. Murray at

Those with celiac disease will learn about vitamins and supplements, how to speak to members of your family, and beliefs about celiac disease that have persisted over time. For those who want to learn this will be welcome resources for years to come. –Lisa Fitterman

Preschool handbook CoverPreschool Food Allergy Handbook
By Gina Mennett Lee and Laurel J. Francoeur
Self-published, $34.95

Sending a food-allergic child off to preschool can be daunting. But experts Gina Mennett Lee, an educator-consultant, and Laurel Francoeur, a lawyer with expertise in disability law, show you step-by-step how to do it safely. Their thorough little handbook reviews the food allergy basics, then the authors dive into all you need to know to craft a strong food allergy management plan.

Important issues for both parents and providers include risk reduction at snack/lunch time, spillable allergens, arts and crafts, hand-washing protocols, and how birthdays will be celebrated. There are sections on legal rights, posters, and most helpfully, sample accommodation plans you can borrow from.

The emphasis here is on inclusion, and helping to ensure the child with food allergies has a safe, happy preschool experience, just like the other children. –Gwen Smith

Jennifer's Way CookbooksJennifer’s Way
By Jennifer Esposito
Da Capo Press, $25.99 hardcover

This is a candid, personal story, but don’t believe tabloid reviews: Jennifer’s Way is not a beans-spiller. OK, there is a passage that may allude to her ex, fellow actor Bradley Cooper. And Esposito does tell her version of the rather infamous parting of the ways with CBS and the TV series Blue Bloods.

But if there’s a tell-all aspect to this book, it’s about the failure of the medical establishment to help a woman, who at times is literally crying for help to identify what is wrong with her. In 2009, she finally learns that it is celiac disease, but along the way, she endures stomach symptoms, sinus infections, migraines, and black holes of depression. Then Esposito encounters hair loss, walking difficulty, and panic attacks. She’s desperate for answers. Yet again and again, she’s told it’s anxiety or stress.

Esposito performs a difficult balancing act of finding acting success while attempting to cope with symptoms. This book is frank, it’s raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting. I just hope the tabloid coverage will lead to many book sales. Jennifer’s Way is a page-turner of medical self-discovery that will give many people a new appreciation of celiac disease. –Gwen Smith

Gluten Freedom
Gluten Freedom - Alessio Fasano1By Dr. Alessio Fasano, MD with Susie Flaherty
Wiley General Trade, $24.95

Penned by one of the world’s top celiac disease experts, Gluten Freedom contains a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in celiac disease and, gluten-related disorders. Readers get a front-row seat into the exciting breakthroughs in celiac research, plus helpful insights on living a healthy life with the autoimmune condition.

Essential topics in this book, to be released in April, include explaining the mechanisms behind a ‘leaky gut’, the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten’s effect on the brain and its association with psychological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, and more.

An entire chapter devoted to celiac disease and pregnancy offers answers for expecting, expecting-to-be-expecting or nursing mothers with celiac. Fasano even includes gluten-free recipes, adapted from his own mother’s traditional Italian cooking (there’s a lot more to it than bread and pasta!).

This is the ultimate celiac handbook. Not only does it contain authoritative, up-to-date information on where celiac research stands today, where it came from, and where it’s headed, but it also comes with excellent advice and tips for living a full, healthy life without gluten. –Patrick Bennett

flying with food allergies_bookFlying with Food Allergies: What You Need to Know
By Laurel Francoeur
Createspace, $15 or $8.88 Kindle e-book

Author Laurel Francoeur is an attorney and her strengths in this book are chapters that lay out a food-allergic passenger’s rights (and, at times, lack of) under disability laws, how to make a complaint to the DOT, and smart flying precautions. She explains that you also cannot be refused the right to board just because a condition “may offend, annoy, or inconvenience” other passengers.

As the editor of Allergic Living, which advocates for allergy airline policies that will reduce food allergy risks at 35,000 feet, I do find too much emphasis here on airborne allergen risk. As a pivotal study has shown, hundreds of vacuum-sealed packages need to be opened simultaneously for the level of peanut dust to be significant enough for a severe reaction in a plane’s cabin.

That is not to diminish the greater risk of smears, contaminated tray tables or exposures such as children picking up nut wrappers, as well as real and documented in-flight reactions. We definitely do need the airlines to reduce the risks. This book shares much helpful information toward that end, and about the rights of the allergic traveler. –Gwen Smith

A Little Bit Can Hurt – The Shocking Truth About Food Allergies
Alittle bit can hurt_bookBy Donna DeCosta, MD
Bilner Books, $16.95

Physician and allergy mom Donna DeCosta presents 16 moving real-life stories about living with food allergies, spanning all ages from infancy to adulthood. Questions after each story guide readers who may be experiencing similar issues, while the second section provides helpful questions and answers from leading experts on food allergy, including Dr. Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins and former FAAN CEOMaria Acebal.and former FAAN CEO Maria Acebal.

This book is sure to provide support for food allergy parents, as well as new ideas for handling challenges. After hearing the stories of what families go through, backed up by experts, even those unaffected by allergies should gain a whole new perspective. –Patrick Bennett

Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science and the Search for a Cure
By Henry Ehrlich
Third Avenue Books, $17.95 paperback


Dr. Xiu-Min Li is the modestly brilliant woman behind the revolutionary Chinese herbal formula, FAHF-2, which has gained some impressive results in the treatment of food allergy. Now author Henry Ehrlich has written a remarkable book on Li’s research and the quest to not just desensitize the millions today who must manage food allergies, but to change their immune systems for good.

Ehrlich presents Li as a unique physician immersed in two worlds: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine, as she’s an allergy specialist at Mount Sinai in New York. The book has riveting sections, including one on Li’s early work with eczema patients. While using herbal treatments to clear the skin of those covered “head-to-toe” with eczema, mothers began to ask Li about herbs and food allergy. She’s then off and running.

Ehrlich also delves into the state of other therapies, such as oral immunotherapy. Li sums up her reservation: “OIT doesn’t fundamentally alter the immune system.” And that’s what she aims to do. While the book has the “more study needed” caveats, the reader can’t help but come away enthused about Li, her magic herbal blends – and where they might take us. –Gwen Smith

Family Food Allergy Book_coverThe Family Food Allergy Book

By Mireille Schwartz
Basic Health Publications, $12.95 paperback

San Francisco allergy advocate Mireille Schwartz has penned a comprehensive book for anyone who lives with, or cares for someone with, a life-threatening food allergy. Schwartz, who has a severe fish allergy, provides proven strategies derived from a lifetime of managing her own allergy while caring for her food-allergic daughter.

Nothing is neglected: from the biology behind allergies and an in-depth review of the Top 8 to holidays, travel, summer camps, schools and more. Her restaurant chapter is particularly comprehensive; beyond the excellent advice on dining out safely, Schwartz even includes a wealth of information for the restaurateur. From the newly diagnosed to the seasoned allergy veteran, everyone stands to learn from this book. –Patrick Bennett

The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide
By Alexandra Anca
Robert Rose Inc. publisher, $24.95 paperback

While the jacket touts its 150 recipes, this volume gets well beyond cooking. Living up to its title as the “total” food allergy guide, registered dietitian Alexandra Anca starts out with an in-depth section on the immune system and food allergies. She then walks the reader through IgE antibodies, T-cells, and explains the difference between food allergy and sensitivity and more.

Anca delves into diet planning for the top allergens (she even includes sesame and mustard), offering handy grocery-shopping charts of the types of foods that are safe, unsafe and questionable for a specific allergy.

Her recipes, which come with scientific nutritional information, range from breakfasts to desserts and are designed for people with food allergies, sensitivities or celiac disease. There are options for any palate: from Hawaiian pizza to Indian food. With the assistance of allergist Dr. Gordon Sussman, Anca has produced an excellent and varied resource. –Patrick Bennett

The Food Allergy Experience Food Allergy Experience - Ruchi Gupta
By Dr. Ruchi Gupta, with Denise Bunning
CreateSpace, $29.99

In The Food Allergy Experience, Dr. Ruchi Gupta speaks with the authority of a leading allergy researcher – but equally, she speaks as the mother of a daughter with food allergies. She provides many great tips; I was particularly struck by her advice to watch allergic kids not just for physical signs of a reaction but also for emotional ones such as sudden crying or anxiety.

But what really sets this book apart is that “experience” in the title. It is not just her own, but heard in the voices of many. Gupta surveyed parents at a local support group about their attitudes about life with a food-allergic child. There was an outpouring of response that led to this unique and quietly powerful book.

From the mom who speaks of allergy affecting “her work, her marriage and her outlook on life” to the parents talking about issues surrounding social activities and the mom who relates how her young son had a panic attack at a restaurant – “a reminder that this takes an emotional toll on all of us” – this book candidly captures the realities of life with food allergies. Most helpfully, Gupta weighs in with compassionate advice for those of us living the “experience”. –Gwen Smith

Beating Asthma: Seven Simple Principles Beating-Asthma-Cover
By Stephen Apaliski, MD
Salveo Media, $18.95

With Beating Asthma, Dr. Stephen Apaliski takes aim at the lack of asthma control in America, citing the statistic that only 29 percent actually manage their disease adequately. But he doesn’t admonish the patient for that stat, explaining instead, in easy-to-follow layman’s language, how to turn things around.

Apaliski has 30 years in both allergy and pediatrics practice, and acknowledges that asthma management isn’t something that comes out of a box. He likens the asthma medications regime to “a musical balancing act, in which there is a balance of drums, horns, guitar, etc.”

The book isn’t long but he covers a lot of ground – from meds and testing to action plans and management – in a highly readable style. –Erin Stevenson

Feeding Eden feeding eden_Susan Weissman
By Susan Weissman
Sterling Publishing, $24.95

Allergy mom and writer Susan Weissman has written a moving chronicle of life with a child with multiple food allergies, including the trials of figuring out the allergies and how a loving family can devise its own rituals of safekeeping.

Readers of this magazine will relate to the revolving door of doctors, the missed diagnoses, the feeling of losing it as your child’s health worsens and food becomes the enemy.

Early on, an emergency room doctor advises Weissman not to “let his allergies make you crazy.” Instead, she writes: “Crazy and I became as intimate as lovers. Crazy became my stalker, my unwelcome houseguest …. When I try to tout my sanity to teachers and friends ‘Oh, I try not to get too crazy’ – crazy laughs its ass off in the corner.”

An allergist finally determines that Eden is allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, sunflower and mustard seeds, shellfish and some fruits.

Weissman writes with frankness about the good as well: “Love is finding an Italian restaurant where they never screw up Eden’s food and going back even when there are nights we’d rather eat anywhere else.” Anyone living with food allergies will find their own truths in Weissman’s beautifully crafted memoir. –Gwen Smith

Allergic Girlgiftguide-2011 sloane-miller-allergic-girl-book
By Sloane Miller
John Wiley & Sons Inc., $24.95

Sloane Miller has written a superb first book, setting out to show the food allergic how to stop missing out on social joys – from dating to dining to travel. She counsels “opting in” to life, but notes that “food allergic adults are often fearful, anxious or nervous.” Miller, too, once lived like that. No more.

Today, this outgoing New Yorker loves her life and has clearly made the decision to “opt in”.

Miller proves herself both talented writer and an able food allergy coach (a combination that led Allergic Living to invite her to write our Guide to Smart Dining). But what’s surprising in Allergic Girl is Miller’s candor, the depth of her advice and the questions she will have you asking about your relationship to food, and whether you can accept your allergies “without shame, embarrassment or apology.”

Other allergy help books mix the first-person and how-to guidance. But Miller’s book is in a league of its own. She makes you want to find the quality of life that you deserve. –Gwen Smith

Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition GuideGFDietGuideCOVER
By Alexandra Anca & Theresa Santandrea-Cull
Robert Rose, $24.95

If you avoid gluten by turning to foods made from alternatives such as white rice, potatoes and corn, then your symptoms may have subsided, but your health may be suffering. People with celiac disease often don’t get enough fiber, iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D, contend Alexandra Anca, a registered dietitian with a special interest in celiac, and baking instructor Theresa Santandrea-Cull.

Their book aims to simplify nutrition for those with celiac disease. lt’s a comprehensive guide to living healthfully with the disease, and includes everything from tips on how to gluten-proof your kitchen to a 30-day meal plan, complete with daily nutritional analysis.

Although the black-and-white book doesn’t include mouth-watering photos, the authors’ 100+ recipes are varied and intriguing from Turkey Sausage with Lima Bean Medley to Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. Naturally, each one includes nutritional information. –Kim Shiffman


Allergy-Friendly, Gluten-Free Cookbook Reviews
Allergy-Friendly Children’s Book Reviews