Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coping with Food Allergies

Recently the husband of a good friend of mine was diagnosed with celiacs.  It feels as if I am meeting more and more people who have special diets.  I have watched from afar as my friend has just jumped right in.  Her whole family is eating differently to make it easier on her husband because of his need to take gluten and lactose out of his diet.  I have been so impressed with her dedication and her efforts to love her husband well.

As a host, I want to love our guest well when they come into our home.  I want to understand what I need to watch out for.  In my mind, food allergies are different than being a picky eater.  I remember trying to accommodate one picky eater who came to our home on New Year's Eve 9 years ago.  I changed my main dish just for her and then it turned out that she didn't like that either!  I couldn't do anything more.  But, food allergies are much more serious.  My friend's husband has to miss a day of work if he eats the wrong thing.

So, I was excited when I got the chance to review The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide for review.  This book was by Alexandra Anca, a registered dietician, with Dr. Gordon L. Sussman, a medical doctor.  It is a chockful of information!  This book covers various food allergies, associated health conditions, the diagnosis of food allergies, managing the allergies, what products to watch out for, and then recipes.  Half of this book is recipes, which is the part I most wanted.

I found the information about allergies informative.  If I was starting down the road to food allergy testing, this book would provide good explanations of allergies vs. intolerances, how to understand different types of testing, and what I need to watch out for.  One note the author does make strongly, which I agree with, is that elimination diets shouldn't be started without medical supervision and advice.  We can unintentionally take nutrients out of our diets without making up for them.  The first half is full of charts and medical information.  But, if you or someone close to you has a food allergy, this information would be very important to have.

I have reviewed one or 2 gluten free cookbooks before.  The mix of flours used has always been very expensive, which has deterred me.  That was something I noticed right away with this cookbook.  The baking ingredients are much more doable--both to find and afford.  I made the applesauce muffins for my friend, her husband, and another gluten-free friend.  I did substitute cranberries for the raisins because I didn't have sulfur free raisins.  They were all very impressed!  Both families wanted the recipe and said they were better by far than other gluten free muffins they'd had.  The recipe did specify things like gluten free baking soda and gluten free vanilla.  I had to buy a new container of Clabber Girl and my Costco vanilla was labeled gluten free.  

As I looked through the other recipes, I was pleased.  The recipes are ones I'd make for company and are simple enough to prepare.  I wanted this book so that I could be a good host and make meals that everyone will eat when we have gluten free guests.   

If you're looking for a general food allergy book to help you cope with multiple food allergies in your family, or if you are like me and need some recipes when you have guests with food allergies over, then this is a very informative and helpful book!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Robert Rose publishing for review.

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