Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Flourishing with Food Allergies

Summary: Learn how to help using successful social, emotional, and practical guidance from those experienced in dealing with food allergies in young children. You will refer to this guide again and again.

You will discover how easy it is to:

- Find emotional support through reading parents' stories, including a father's viewpoint. Receive emotional tips from a therapist.

- Get professional perspectives from pediatricians and allergists including a naturopath.

- Learn how to handle social situations at birthday parties or play dates and find food-free activities for young children.

- Make educated choices about pre-school options and kindergarten.

- Get practical guidance about diet, allergen ingredients and travel.

- Consider world-wide research on pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, ADHD, autism, asthma and the possible links to food allergies. -- Papoose Publishing

As a mother of a young child with severe food allergies, I thought FLOURISHING WITH FOOD ALLERGIES: SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND PRACTICAL GUIDANCE FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN by A. Anderson would be a very useful book. Many of you probably already know that my five year old son has life threatening food allergies to dairy and tree nuts. He is also extremely allergic to peanuts, eggs, and shellfish; however, we don't know what his reaction is to these items because he hasn't had direct contact with any of them. I consider myself a pretty educated mother on the topic of food allergies, but I'm always looking for new-to-me information about how best to handle this issue.

I admit that this book has been sitting on my shelves for some time because when I skimmed through the book, I discovered that it really wasn't what I was expecting. It wasn't until the publisher asked me to either write a review of the book or send it back (a first for me) that I actually sat down and read it in its entirety. This book does have its share of helpful information, but I think it is geared more to parents who have just discovered that their kid has food allergies. I didn't really learn a lot of new things specifically about food allergies and how to best handle them with my son.

Initially, I was drawn to the idea that this book discussed the "social, emotional, and practical guidance" aspect of having a child with food allergies. I was hoping that this book would help me help my child deal with his allergies. I wanted "advice" on how to teach him and his friends about his allergies. In addition, I wanted assistance in explaining to him why he can't eat what other kids are eating and how not to make him feel left out. (I would have loved a listing of educational books or DVDs that deal with food allergies.) There were some helpful hints about how to handle parties and school and ingredient listings, but the book was still lacking for me -- maybe it's because I have thoroughly researched food allergies on my own over the past five years.

I found that the author tended to write about her personal experiences a little too much for me rather than focusing on the general. She was probably trying to show the reader that others are experiencing the same situation, but it just didn't appeal to me. Much of the book's audience might like this aspect of the book; however, I often times had issues with her basic philosophies about food, allergies, and child-rearing. For example, there is a section of the book devoted to why the author chose not to send her boys to preschool as well as another section explaining how to prepare them for kindergarten. I don't want to make it sound like the author judged parents who make different decisions the she did -- because she didn't. I just don't think details on how to educationally prepare your child for kindergarten is relevant in a book about food allergies.

Another thing that I found confusing about this book were the sections devoted to other parents talking about their experiences with their children's food allergies. I can pretty much guarantee that some of the testimonials will ring true, but I found myself getting very overwhelmed with all the different information that was thrown out. I had a similar reaction to the sections of the book where professionals discussed their opinions about food allergies. One thing's for sure, there is definitely not any agreement as to what causes food allergies or what to do about them. Later in the book, the author mentions that she was deliberating showing all of the differences to highlight that a great deal of research still needs to be conducted.

And ultimately, that's where I found myself agreeing most with the book. There are lots of children and families whose lives are deeply affected by severe food allergies; and there doesn't seem to be a general consensus about how to best handle them. I commend the author for tackling a lot of these issues even though I didn't always agree with her. I liked that the author provided a sample letter in the back of the book to write to your elected representatives requesting more money and research for food allergies. I think it's something that every parent of children with food allergies should send.

The author of this book is a mother of two sons with food allergies. It is apparent that she has researched the topic a great deal and feels very passionately about it. You can read more about FLOURISHING WITH FOOD ALLERGIES at the book's website. While you are there, you can see the book's table of contents and even read some sample chapters. In addition, you can also check out the author's blog.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Note: The publisher has since contacted me with an apology. She has also left a comment below explaining their position.


Beth F said...

Nicely balanced review. I don't live with anyone with severe food allergies, so wouldn't have bought this one anyway.

Chrisbookarama said...

Not sure I'd buy it since my girl was diagnosed with peanut allergy over 5 years ago. When I first found out, I read a lot but unless there is new info out there that's probably it for me.

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Hmm...not sure how I feel about the publisher's request. I agree with Beth-nice balanced review.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Monitoring your son's food allergies must be a continuous challenge for you and your family; I'm sure it's frustrating that there's no consensus as to the best course of treatment.

As for the request from pub to "review or return" ... you're a much better person than I am!

Amy said...

I would have returned it! Too bad it wasn't more helpful for you!

bermudaonion said...

This does sound like a book that is better suited for someone whose child is newly diagnosed with a food allergy. I'm like Amy, I probably would have returned the book.

Bonnie said...

I reviewed this book a few months ago and had a different perspective on it. I found it to have a wealth of information that many other allergy books do not. I agree that it may benefit the newly diagnosed parent with food allergies a bit more than those of us dealing with it longer. My son is 10 and we've dealt with his food allergies since he was 1 year old. I believe that you can never stop learning about ways to manage food allergies as it is an ever growing and changing experience for many. I found the book had a lot of resource information including detailed travel information and diet information. I appreciated that the author took a look at perspectives about food allergies from a varied group of professionals. I just wanted to share a different perspective, my review is HERE.

Elizabeth said...

I have to weigh in on why we, the publisher, asked for the book back...we've donated over 200 books to food allergy support groups to help them loan them out to parents who really want to read the book. We've also donated to silent auctions and other charitable food allergy related fund raisers. We are constantly asked for more donations...but we are running out of books and just wanted to "recycle" a book so we thought if a book wasn't being used, but rather just sitting on someone's shelf, we'd ask for it back so it can do some good. We certainly didn't mean to offend anyone! I apologized to this reviewer for probably annoying her with my request...(I fear her review might be somewhat tainted by my asking for the book).

We hope that people will visit the author's blog and review all the wonderful feedback we received on the book at the book's web site at:

Our and the author's goal has been none other than to help parents successfully deal with life-threatening food allergies in their child.

Julie P. said...


First of all, thanks for your e-mail as well as your comment. I totally understand your position, and I do appreciate what you're trying to accomplish with this book. While this book wasn't what I was looking for, I do think it will be very helpful for others.

Also, I now respect your request for the book to be reviewed or returned. Had your initial e-mail said something along the lines of your comment, I know I would have been more understanding.