Reviews: Allergy, Gluten-Free Resource Books

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in Resources, Reviews
Published: December 4, 2013

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 a magazine that advocates for allergy airline policies that will reduce food allergy risks at 55,000 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 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

FOOD ALLERGIES.11.Oct v1

Dr. Xiu-Min Li is the modestly brilliant woman behind the revolutionary Chinese herbal formula, FAHF-2, which is gaining increasingly 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. The book will be released in February. –Gwen Smith

 

Crystal ChildCrystal Child Book cover
By Lisa B. Lewis
CreateSpace, $9.95

Any food allergy parent can identify with this writer’s journey, starting with confusion about her adopted daughter Lea’s initial reactions. Difficulties managing Lea’s multiple food allergies and asthma led Lewis to get in touch with Dr. Xiu-Min Li – the foremost expert on using traditional Chinese Medicine to treat food allergies.

Over time, through medicinal herbs and acupuncture, Lea is able to tolerate accidental allergen exposures without anaphylaxis, and a great weight is lifted off of Lewis`shoulders. Includes a foreword and Q&A with Dr. Li. Patrick Bennett

 

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

Published in 2012

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

 

Published in 2011

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

Plus:

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