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Reviews: Allergy, Gluten-Free Resource Books

Published in 2014

Jennifer's Way CookbooksJennifer’s Way
By Jennifer Esposito
Da Capo Press, $25.99 hardcover

This is a candid, personal story, but don’t believe tabloid reviews: Jennifer’s Way is not a beans-spiller. OK, there is a passage that may allude to her ex, fellow actor Bradley Cooper. And Esposito does tell her version of the rather infamous parting of the ways with CBS and the TV series Blue Bloods.

But if there’s a tell-all aspect to this book, it’s about the failure of the medical establishment to help a woman, who at times is literally crying for help to identify what is wrong with her. In 2009, she finally learns that it is celiac disease, but along the way, she endures stomach symptoms, sinus infections, migraines, and black holes of depression. Then Esposito encounters hair loss, walking difficulty, and panic attacks. She’s desperate for answers. Yet again and again, she’s told it’s anxiety or stress.

Esposito performs a difficult balancing act of finding acting success while attempting to cope with symptoms. This book is frank, it’s raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting. I just hope the tabloid coverage will lead to many book sales. Jennifer’s Way is a page-turner of medical self-discovery that will give many people a new appreciation of celiac disease. –Gwen Smith
Gluten Freedom
Gluten Freedom - Alessio Fasano1By Dr. Alessio Fasano, MD with Susie Flaherty 
Wiley General Trade, $24.95

Penned by one of the world’s top celiac disease experts, Gluten Freedom  contains a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in celiac disease and,  gluten-related disorders. Readers get a front-row seat into the exciting breakthroughs in celiac research, plus helpful insights on living a healthy life with  the autoimmune condition.

Essential topics in this book, to be released in April, include explaining the  mechanisms behind a ‘leaky gut’, the difference between celiac disease and  non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten’s effect on the brain and its association  with psychological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, and more.

An entire chapter devoted to celiac disease and pregnancy offers answers for  expecting, expecting-to-be-expecting or nursing mothers with celiac. Fasano  even includes gluten-free recipes, adapted from his own mother’s traditional  Italian cooking (there’s a lot more to it than bread and pasta!).

This is the ultimate celiac handbook. Not only does it contain authoritative, up-to-date information on where celiac research stands today, where it came from, and where it’s headed, but it also comes with excellent advice and tips  for living a full, healthy life without gluten. –Patrick Bennett
flying with food allergies_bookFlying with Food Allergies: What You Need to Know
By Laurel Francoeur
Createspace, $15 or $8.88 Kindle e-book 

Author Laurel Francoeur is an attorney and her strengths in this book are chapters that lay out a food-allergic passenger’s rights (and, at times, lack of) under disability laws, how to make a complaint to the DOT, and smart flying precautions. She explains that you also cannot be refused the right to board just because a condition “may offend, annoy, or inconvenience” other passengers.

As the editor of a magazine that advocates for allergy airline policies that will reduce food allergy risks at 55,000 feet, I do find too much emphasis here on airborne allergen risk. As a pivotal study has shown, hundreds of vacuum-sealed packages need to be opened simultaneously for the level of peanut dust to be significant enough for a severe reaction in a plane’s cabin.

That is not to diminish the greater risk of smears, contaminated tray tables or exposures such as children picking up nut wrappers, as well as real and documented in-flight reactions. We do need the airlines to reduce the risks. This book shares much helpful information toward that end, and about the rights of the allergic traveler. –Gwen Smith
A Little Bit Can Hurt – The Shocking Truth About Food Allergies
Alittle bit can hurt_bookBy Donna DeCosta, MD
Bilner Books, $16.95

Physician and allergy mom Donna DeCosta presents 16 moving real-life stories about living with food allergies, spanning all ages from infancy to adulthood. Questions after each story guide readers who may be experiencing similar issues, while the second section provides helpful questions and answers from leading experts on food allergy, including Dr. Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins and former FAAN CEOMaria Acebal.and former FAAN CEO Maria Acebal.

This book is sure to provide support for food allergy parents, as well as new ideas for handling challenges. After hearing the stories of what families go through, backed up by experts, even those unaffected by allergies should gain a whole new perspective. –Patrick Bennett
Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science and the Search for a Cure
By Henry Ehrlich
Third Avenue Books, $17.95 paperback


Dr. Xiu-Min Li is the modestly brilliant woman behind the revolutionary Chinese herbal formula, FAHF-2, which is gaining increasingly impressive results in the treatment of food allergy. Now author Henry Ehrlich has written a remarkable book on Li’s research and the quest to not just desensitize the millions today who must manage food allergies, but to change their immune systems for good.

Ehrlich presents Li as a unique physician immersed in two worlds: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine, as she’s an allergy specialist at Mount Sinai in New York. The book has riveting sections, including one on Li’s early work with eczema patients. While using herbal treatments to clear the skin of those covered “head-to-toe” with eczema, mothers began to ask Li about herbs and food allergy. She’s then off and running.

Ehrlich also delves into the state of other therapies, such as oral immunotherapy. Li sums up her reservation: “OIT doesn’t fundamentally alter the immune system.” And that’s what she aims to do. While the book has the “more study needed” caveats, the reader can’t help but come away enthused about Li, her magic herbal blends -and where they might take us. The book will be released in February. –Gwen Smith
Crystal ChildCrystal Child Book cover
By Lisa B. Lewis
CreateSpace, $9.95

Any food allergy parent can identify with this writer’s journey, starting with confusion about her adopted daughter Lea’s initial reactions. Difficulties managing Lea’s multiple food allergies and asthma led Lewis to get in touch with Dr. Xiu-Min Li – the foremost expert on using traditional Chinese Medicine to treat food allergies.

Over time, through medicinal herbs and acupuncture, Lea is able to tolerate accidental allergen exposures without anaphylaxis, and a great weight is lifted off of Lewis`shoulders. Includes a foreword and Q&A with Dr. Li. Patrick Bennett
Family Food Allergy Book_coverThe Family Food Allergy Book

By Mireille Schwartz
Basic Health Publications, $12.95 paperback

San Francisco allergy advocate Mireille Schwartz has penned a comprehensive book for anyone who lives with, or cares for someone with, a life-threatening food allergy. Schwartz, who has a severe fish allergy, provides proven strategies derived from a lifetime of managing her own allergy while caring for her food-allergic daughter.

Nothing is neglected: from the biology behind allergies and an in-depth review of the Top 8 to holidays, travel, summer camps, schools and more. Her restaurant chapter is particularly comprehensive; beyond the excellent advice on dining out safely, Schwartz even includes a wealth of information for the restaurateur. From the newly diagnosed to the seasoned allergy veteran, everyone stands to learn from this book. –Patrick Bennett

Published in 2013

Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on ItFood Allergies A complete Guide
By Dr. Scott Sicherer
Johns Hopkins University Press, $15.95 paperback / e-book 

In his third book, Dr. Scott Sicherer, a leader in the field of food allergy, has compiled a goldmine of information for any patient, parent or caregiver dealing with food allergies. Written in Q&A format, this book provides highly informative responses to hundreds upon hundreds of questions about food allergies.

Drawing on his experience as an allergist, educator and researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Sicherer boils down complex medical information into plain language, without sacrificing the facts.

This guide travels the distance from food allergy basics, testing and reaction avoidance to the complicated concerns of bullying, anxiety and quality of life with food allergy. Sicherer, who is also a columnist for this magazine, offers great counsel on breastfeeding vs. formula, prevention strategies and introducing potentially allergenic foods to young children. He serves up the latest on outgrowing allergies, and moves onto the big questions about research and whether we’re moving in the direction of a cure.

It’s easy to see why fellow allergists and advocates have given strong endorsement to this book. In the preface, advocate Maria Acebal, of FARE’s board of directors, aptly notes: “I found answers to important questions I hadn’t yet thought of asking.”

You’re bound to keep this comprehensive guide handy. to refer to again and again as questions arise. You know you can count on Scott Sicherer for a thoughtful answer. –Patrick Bennett
The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide
By Alexandra Anca,
Robert Rose Inc. publisher, $24.95 paperback

While the jacket touts its 150 recipes, this volume gets well beyond cooking. Living up to its title as the “total” food allergy guide, registered dietitian Alexandra Anca starts out with an in-depth section on the immune system and food allergies. She then walks the reader through IgE antibodies, T-cells, and explains the difference between food allergy and sensitivity and more.

Anca delves into diet planning for the top allergens (she even includes sesame and mustard), offering handy grocery-shopping charts of the types of foods that are safe, unsafe and questionable for a specific allergy.

Her recipes, which come with scientific nutritional information, range from breakfasts to desserts and are designed for people with food allergies, sensitivities or celiac disease. There are options for any palate: from Hawaiian pizza to Indian food. With the assistance of allergist Dr. Gordon Sussman, Anca has produced an excellent and varied resource. –Patrick Bennett

Next: Food Allergy Experience, Feeding Eden, Allergic Girl and more