Few things are scarier than witnessing a child having an allergic reaction, whether it manifests itself as wheezing or life-threatening anaphylaxis. Parents will do anything to avoid having their child suffer such a reaction again, but treading the line between being prepared and being paranoid can be tricky. The Parent's Guide to Food Allergies
was written by a team of people who shared their expertise from the medical lab and the kitchen; two M.D.s and one Ph.D. collaborated with author Marianne Barber, the mother of a food-allergic son, who writes with a personal slant so often absent from medical guides. Barber understands the daily coping skills that are needed when living with an allergic child, from banning particular foods entirely to reading ingredient labels.
Especially common allergens like peanuts, wheat, and eggs merit separate chapters, while other foods are treated more generally. Each of the food-specific chapters includes a list of ways that the ingredients can "hide" in processed foods. Once you learn that milk also goes by hydrolysate, and that one of wheat's many aliases is seitan, you'll realize the importance of careful reading. The chapter titled "Hidden Allergens" expands on this theme, and while Barber does an excellent job of detailing the possible hiding places, she says, "careful labeling is well and good, but it doesn't eliminate the need for a judgment call on your part." There's also a chapter on anaphylaxis, in which the realities of living with Epi-pens and liquid antihistamines are faced in a kind, straightforward manner. A special recipe section includes enjoyable treats for the whole family that are baked with wheat-free flour, milk-free margarine, and applesauce instead of eggs. (The spice cake with fresh fruit is a delicious treat.)
At once gentle and authoritative, Barber's book is an excellent guide through the maze of childhood allergies. --Jill Lightner
About the Author
Marianne Barber is an award-winning copywriter who runs her own direct-marketing agency. She is also the mother of Lucas, whose severe food allergies led her to write The Parent's Guide to Food Allergies.
Maryanne Bartoszek Scott, M.D., is a physician in private practice whose specialty is pediatric allergy and immunology.
Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in private practice.