Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Feeding Eden, by Susan Weissman

This week is known as Food Allergy Awareness Week, so it’s appropriate that I just finished reading the book, Feeding Eden: The Trials and Triumphs of a Food Allergy Family, by Susan Weissman. Of course, I knew already that some children have life-threatening allergies to certain foods, but Feeding Eden really opened my eyes about how this condition affects the whole family. Most of us associate food with pleasure, and feeding our families is a way of nurturing them. For families like Eden’s, though, food can be a killer. Imagine being afraid almost every time you feed something to your child that you may end up at the emergency room fighting for your child’s life.

Weissman tells us that it’s not as simple as merely avoiding the foods that set off a reaction. Often, seemingly “safe” foods can be contaminated with the tiniest amount of a substance that will cause an allergic reaction. Sometimes, the food doesn’t even need to be consumed. Eden had a reaction after merely touching a forbidden food and then bringing his finger to his eye. I also learned a lot about the prejudice that these families face when they’re forced to bring their own foods to gatherings and refuse to eat what is prepared. Even pleasurable family activities like eating at restaurants need to be approached with severe caution to avoid accidental ingestion of a deadly food. Parents of a child with severe allergies also face the trauma of leaving their child with a caretaker when they go out. What if the babysitter isn’t diligent or is unprepared to handle a reaction? One “date night” could spell disaster for food allergy families.

Weissman and her husband, like many parents in their position, have spent large sums of money on finding the best therapies and doctors for their son. Unfortunately, we still don’t know a lot about what causes severe food allergies or how to treat them effectively. I definitely have more compassion now for families who live with food allergies. I hope you will pick up a copy of Feeding Eden and educate your spouse and children about the experiences of food allergy families. Learn more about the author and her book at www.susanweissman.com.





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