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Book Review: Food to Some, Poison to Others

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:59am
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I included the book Food to Some, Poison to Others: The Food Allergy Detection Program in our Gift Guide for Kids with Allergies because it looked like a helpful book. Terry Traub has spent most of her married life preparing special meals for her two sons and husband, all of whom have celiac disease. Her youngest is also lactose intolerant. The book includes instructions for an elimination diet and a mini-cookbook with over 175 recipes with busy families in mind -- and picky eaters.

I should state from the outset that Food to Some does not deal with anaphylactic allergens like peanuts and soy. The book is for less severe food allergies. Traub warns, "Individuals with anaphylactic problems should not try this diet. Follow only what your physician instructs."

The 12-day elimination plan is designed to help you eliminate seven major allergy-causing food groups: eggs, corn, wheat, dairy, chocolate, pork, and citrus. She includes menus for each meal throughout, including dishes that can be found in the recipes section (indicated with an asterisk). The elimination diet can be used to complement blood tests such as the RAST test.

Traub also explains the mechanics of food allergies, intolerance, and malabsorption and briefly describes the various food allergy tests. There is a pantry list, a list of forbidden foods, worksheets, and sources of allergens. (Did you know sherbet can have eggs?) And there is a guide to chain restaurants offering gluten-free meals (by state).

I think the recipe section is especially helpful. Traub believes that cooking around allergies doesn't have to result in bland food. The recipes draw from a wide range of cuisines and make much use of fresh ingredients, especially produce.

Each recipe indicates which allergens are avoided. For example, her Quick Spicy Chipotle Bean Dip is dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free. However, only the seven tested possible allergens are listed.

I do wish this book could be a reference for people with anaphylactic allergies as well. I understand why Traub would avoid adding life-threatening allergens to her elimination diet! However, tips for avoiding foods with soy and peanuts would be a helpful perk. Also, it would be great if the recipes with soy and peanuts had likewise been labeled as such. People increasingly have multiple-food allergies, and foods like soy can hide in many forms, like in the miso in the vegetable cocktail on page 198.

That aside, however, I think the book provides an excellent resource for anyone trying to eat well while avoiding the foods that make them sick!

Check back here later this week, when we'll be cooking from one of the recipes in the book!

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