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Food Allergy Support Group of Monmouth Count

Empowering parents, through support and education, to keep their children safe

Book Review

“I made it a rule to never eat a baked good that I didn't personally prepare myself . … I made an exception to the rule just once … after I had become an allergist and had learned a great deal about peanut allergy. … A colleague of mine, a world-renowned authority in food allergy, presented me with a gift of beautifully decorated cookies. As he handed them to me, without me even asking, he reassured me — in fact, he promised me — that these cookies were peanut free. Unfortunately, however, he didn't know that his wife had also made peanut butter cookies that morning and that she used the same spatula between those cookies and mine. The level of contamination was enough to cause a very severe reaction. … I needed five shots of epinephrine. … I have not broken my ‘no cookie rule' ever since”

— excerpt from
Food Allergies for Dummies

Food Allergies for Dummies

By Robert A Wood, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
With Joe Kraynak

Review by Ellen Montemarano
From the Fall 2007 Newsletter

When I began reading Food Allergies for Dummies, I thought this would be a great book to recommend to parents whose children have been recently diagnosed with food allergies or friends and families of people with food allergies. After four years of dealing with my daughter's peanut allergy, I didn't think a Dummies book would teach me anything. I was wrong. (For example, there is a Chinese Herbal remedy, FAHF-2, which looks promising for the treatment of food allergies.)

Food Allergies for Dummies was written by Robert Wood, a pediatric allergist at Johns Hopkins who has a severe peanut allergy , and Joe Kraynak, who is a freelance writer. Kraynak did a good job of translating the technical lingo to make it more understandable to those without a medical or scientific background. The book's explanation as to why peanuts are more likely to cause a life-threatening reaction (short answer: it's the way the proteins are folded) is much more clear than what I have read previously.

The book is a very understandable read; it gets across the seriousness of food allergies without resorting to the hysteria that has been seen in some media reports.

Since Dr. Wood is not only an allergist but also a patient, he includes information on how he deals with his own allergies. It is reassuring to a parent to read about someone who has dealt with food allergy from childhood through adulthood. It also is reassuring to read that a highly educated allergist “saves desserts for home,” making me feel less neurotic when refusing dessert at a restaurant on my daughter's behalf. Dr. Wood doesn't eat anything that anyone else has baked and described what happened the one time he broke his rule (see sidebar.) These simple stories have already been helpful in explaining the seriousness of my daughter's food allergies to others .

The book has the common Dummies style and organization. It's straightforward, easy to read in its entirety and it is easy to find information if you just want to browse quickly through the book. It has the Dummies multiple headings and checklists, as well as the Dummies icons —a “warning” bomb for important information (e.g. Never conduct a food challenge at home,) “tips,” “remember,” and “technical stuff.” The “technical stuff” icon is used sparingly as most of the information is very reader-friendly. When in a rush you can just read a heading (“Discovering peanuts in your chili bowl and other unsuspecting places”) and what is in bold next to checks (Spaghetti sauce, Chicken Dishes and Vegetarian Dishes) to see if this was the information you were looking for or if you should skim to the next section.

Food Allergies for Dummies is packed with a lot of practical information beginning with what is a food allergy and what is not, the diagnosis and treatment , and living with food allergies — from daycare to college; at home, on vacation or in restaurants.

I recommend it for anyone who has a food allergy or knows someone with a food allergy. In addition, I recommend it as a gift for the family member/friend/teacher etc. who “doesn't get it” when it comes to allergies



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Empowering parents, through support and education, to keep their children safe