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Food Allergy Field Guide
A Lifestyle Manual for Families

By Theresa Willingham

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Food Allergy Field Guide

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Food Allergy Field Guide
A Lifestyle Manual for Families
By Theresa Willingham
Savory Palate, Inc., (2000)
Standard Print - ISBN: 1-889374-07-5
Genre: Health, Allergies

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 11, 2004

The discovery that you, or one of your family members, has a serious food allergy or sensitivity, can affect the entire family. Depending upon the severity of the food allergy, this might mean that you have to create a totally X-free house (replace the X with the name of the allergen). It can also mean that you have to take special precautions when traveling, dining out, going to school, or simply socializing with friends. In her enlightening book, Food Allergy Field Guide - A Lifestyle Manual for Families, Theresa Willingham shows how you can easily adjust your family's lifestyle to cope with the medical, emotional, and dietary issues associated with a food allergy or sensitivity.

Willingham's son has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes his immune system to react (negatively) to gluten and it makes it difficult for his body to digest the proteins in wheat. The discovery of this problem necessitated removing all wheat, and related grains, from her son's diet, developing a healthy gluten-free diet for him from those foods that he could eat, and learning how to cook wheat-free. In the course of dealing with her son's food sensitivity to wheat, Willingham has learned a great deal about food allergies and sensitivities, of all sorts, and she has learned invaluable coping skills that she willingly shares within the pages of this book.

The Food Allergy Field Guide is a family-friendly reference guide that covers the basics of food allergies, such as what they are, how they are treated, how to read a food label, and where to go for support and additional information. More important, this guide illustrates that changing your lifestyle to adjust to a food allergy does not have to be a traumatic or difficult task. Throughout, this book includes examples of how 'real' people have adapted to food allergies, advice on eating healthy, including tips on menu planning and shopping.

This book is divided into three thematic sections:
  1. The World of Food Sensitivities
    Covering topics ranging from wheat and milk sensitivities to peanut, egg, corn and soy allergies.

  2. Food Sensitive and Free: Making a Team of Family Members, Friends, Caregivers, and Peers
    As the title of this section suggests, Willingham shows how to engage everyone you come into contact with, in the effort to maintain a safe and healthy environment for anyone with a food sensitivity or allergy.

  3. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Cooking for Health and Happiness
    This section provides tips on how to cook for everyone in the family, at once - rather than cooking two meals - one for the member with an allergy and one for everyone else! She also provides tips on how to adjust recipes to remove various allergens, and, best of all, she provides a host of mouth-watering recipes that prove that you can cook delicious meals - even without normally 'key' ingredients.

The Food Allergy Field Guide contains twelve chapters, and each chapter concludes with a handy summary of the key points covered in that chapter. In addition, the book includes a treasure trove of information in its appendices, including a suggested reading list, fact sheets on corn, dairy, egg, peanut, soy and wheat allergies, a guide to nutrition, and several resource guides. Throughout, Willingham follows one guiding principle, Keep it Simple and Safe - KISS. Her advice is heartfelt, well-honed, and invaluable. It may take your family awhile to adjust to the necessary lifestyle changes that go along with food allergies, but once they do, your life, and that of your family, will be less stressful and happier, your diet will seem more normal, and you'll most likely be more healthy as food allergies have the tendency to force you to Eat Healthy!

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