I’ve always turned to books in times of crisis. I’ve been known to wander in to the relevant subject area at my local library and just stand there, hoping for some sort of divine inspiration. One of my most ardent life’s dreams is to possess the ability to load knowledge into my brain without all the work, a la Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Until that is possible, allow me to recommend some books so you can learn more about this crazy life we call food allergy parenting.
When my son first had his reaction, I wanted to learn as much as I could about food allergies. I picked up “Food Allergies for Dummies” by Robert A. Wood. The Dummies series have seen me through many a challenge, and this book did not disappoint. Food Allergies for Dummies includes answers to all of the basic questions such as the causes and symptoms of food allergies, how to eat at a restaurant or friend’s house, how to travel, and how to evaluate some of the latest research on food allergies.
Another book I recommend is “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies” by Sloane Miller. Miller is a well known advocate in the food allergy community. This book is a terrific hands-on guide that uses real life experiences from Miller and her clients to illustrate the important rules for any food allergic person such as how to clearly articulate the allergy to family, friends and restaurant staff. Also includes tips on choosing an allergist and making your home more allergy safe.
“Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends On It” by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D. Another great handbook for parents and individuals navigating the food allergy world. This book covers all of the basics but also includes a discussion on food intolerances and how to make sure your child is getting adequate nutrition while avoiding his or her allergen. Sicherer’s extensive experience includes professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a researcher in the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai. He is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and also serves as a medical advisor to FARE.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and when my son had his reaction, I panicked, wondering how I would feed my child and myself safely. I found it really helpful to page through cookbooks such as “The Everything Food Allergy Cookbook” by Linda Larsen and “The Allergy-Free Pantry” by Colette Martin. Both offer delicious recipes and can be a source of inspiration when your old favorites are no longer safe. “The Allergy Free Pantry” provides a roundup of the replacement products available such as flour mixes, non-dairy milks, and egg replacements.
I frequently worry about how to travel internationally with my son, so when I finally book that trip, I’m planning to pick up Kim Koeller’s manual “Let’s Eat Out Around the World Gluten Free and Allergy Free”, which provides ordering tips and recommendations for safe dishes in a variety of international cuisines.
As time went on, I began to think about the long term effects of food allergies on my son’s mind and spirit. I wondered how others worked through them. I always enjoy reading memoirs because they present one person’s individual journey in a personal and observant way. “Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl” is written by award-winning author Sandra Beasley who has multiple, complex, life-threatening allergies. The book describes her life into adulthood and is filled with anecdotes such as when a nutritionist visiting her fourth grade class characterized Beasley as “not really designed to survive.”
In researching this post, I came across “The Unhealthy Truth: How our Food is Making us Sick and What We can Do About It” by Robyn O’Brien. After her daughter had an allergic reaction to eggs, O’Brien wondered about its causes. Her research uncovered some startling news about the chemicals and toxins used in agriculture. This is definitely at the top of my to-read list.
Please also see my previous post on books to help children understand and cope with their food allergies.
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