If you have a child, family member or friends with food allergies then reading Flourishing with Food Allergies is a must read. This is one of the most comprehensive books on food allergies that I have read to date and I have read many. It provides the emotional support and tools that can help empower you in guiding your child's way in managing to live successfully with food allergies and not in fear. For my regular readers, I have shared that I have a 10 year old son who has dealt with major food allergies since he was 1 year old. He has outgrown many allergies but has consistently had peanut and tree nut allergies which are anaphylactic and life threatening. Recently we have had new allergies develop and it's a rigorous and stressful process trying to figure out what is going on as we work closely with our son's allergist and gastroenterologist.
The author, Ms. Anderson is the mother of two young children with food allergies. She presents a positive and practical approach to her journey of learning to deal with and manage life as a family with children who have food allergies. The book is broken down into sections and in the first section the author shares her personal story and the stories of 14 other parents from around the world. I believe that this is very helpful to families as you can read these experiences and relate to them and to know that you are not alone, share common feelings, and get new ideas and options that may help you handle a situation that you are personally experiencing. Personally, I found this section to have almost too much information and would have preferred some editing to the authors story and details of her life. With the 14 parents stories, they have captions so that you can pick and choose what you are interested in reading or that may apply to you at the time or to refer to at a later date. I say this as reading a book on any medical topic that relates to a child or a family member is most likely already a stressful and overwhelming situation that can trigger emotions. For me, I could not sit down and read this book all at once but had to read it in sections.
There is truly a wealth of information in Ms. Anderson's book Flourishing with Food Allergies that covers myths, facts and findings from all over the world that relate to food allergies. She addresses concerns over Genetically Modified Foods vs Organic as well as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and how they effect the immune system and allergies. Ms Anderson sites research and studies to support this with detailed End Notes. This is something that I personally agree with and am in the process of researching and transitioning to choosing more organic and locally grown foods.
Ms. Anderson shares perspectives from various doctors and medical professionals including pediatricians, allergists, naturopaths and psychologists. As an added bonus, there is a chapter from Ms. Anderson's husband who is honest in sharing his feelings and experiences from a husband/father's perspective. This is an excellent chapter for a father of a child with food allergies to read.
There is a section on Diet which covers the big eight allergens (dairy, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts), ingredient information, dietary information, and information on Probiotics/acidophulus that may help with food allergies, which I found very interesting. Ms. Anderson has written an article for Natural Products Marketplace called Natural Supplements for Children with Allergies in which she highlights probiotics and other supplements. This is important to read and review and discuss with your child's allergist.
The final section covers social situations which is very thorough in discussing ways to handle birthday parties, friends, play dates and outings, preschool and kindergarten/school readiness. This section is chock full of information related towards younger children and from what I understood, Ms. Anderson had 2 children under the age of 4 at the time of writing this book. I would have loved to have had this book available to me as a resource when my son was entering preschool. Fortunately, I had a neighbor who had an older child with similar allergies and had educated my son's preschool and I continued the process as my son was at the preschool. School issues are ones that you have to prepare for with a child with food allergies and this is a great resource to help someone through this process. As I have an elementary aged son going into 5th grade, there wasn't much information in the book geared toward entering elementary school or the grades beyond. I'm assuming it may be due to the fact that Ms. Anderson hadn't experienced that yet as a parent while writing the book. I did appreciate the perspectives featured from both Grammar school (elementary) and Middle School teachers and found them very helpful to see their viewpoints as teachers in the classrooms. With that said, I have communicated via email with the publisher who shared with me that Ms. Anderson's older son just finished kindergarten and is now entering first grade. We are working on arranging a follow up guest post/interview with Ms. Anderson that I will feature here sometime in the next month or two as I would love to hear her perspectives from her school experiences with her son and share them with you.
This last section on social situations also covered travel including Ms. Anderson's own experiences as well as airline guidelines related to specific airlines. I appreciated this information as it is challenging as a parent to contact each airline to find out what their individual policies are related to foods and allergies. I would still double check to verify this information but Ms. Anderson gave extensive and detailed information that was very informative to know. She also addresses international travel and has an extensive list of International Emergency Telephone numbers that covered 6 1/2 pages. This is the type of book that would be highly beneficial to take along while traveling internationally.
Lastly, Ms Anderson encourages readers to reach out to government and let our voices be heard and to give more attention to food allergy research. Included is a sample letter that can be freely copied to send to a congress person.
I don't recall how much Ms. Anderson references finding and being involved in parent support groups. There is not an index at the back of the book which would have been helpful to locate information as you can only rely upon the table of contents. I highly recommend finding a local food allergy support group or starting one of your own, especially if you are just learning a child has food allergies. I am involved in a small, local group of parents who live in my community and I have found it very helpful to share information, support each other, provide education to our local schools, find information about doctors etc.
You can find a local support group in your area through Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
You can also find support groups online and Kids with Food Allergies is one that I am personally familiar with. You can search online for further support groups that may fit your needs.
You can read more about this book as well as links to discussions, food allergy resources and articles at the Flourishing with Food allergies Website.
Flourishing with Food Allergies was recently selected by the USDA’s National Agricultural Library for a resource in the WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Work’s Resource System. In addition, it was just listed as a resource by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.