Book Review: What’s Eating Your Child?

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What's Eating Your Child? book Childhood Disorders—Let's say you had a child who was suffering from anxiety or frequent ear infections and you wanted to know if there was a link between his or her diet and those problems. Say you did a search on Amazon for books on "children's food allergies." Your search would yield about 185 results...plenty of information on the topic. Let's say you suspected that the connection between your child's problem and his or her diet was less pronounced than an allergy, but still present nonetheless. Your Amazon search on "children's food sensitivities" would yield only 10 books. But one of the most helpful, What's Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND (2011), wouldn't be on that list.

I recently had the chance to review this book. This book is about "the hidden connections between food and childhood ailments...and what every parent can do about (them)." When I searched for this particular title on Amazon, I got this book and another 121 books on almost the same topic. There is no shortage of information out there on the proper care and feeding of children. I have read a few of them, and I know that, what they tend to leave out is the will of the child, or the complexities (e.g. exhaustion) of parenthood as factors in that care.

That being said, I have a child with a sensitivity to milk, and I was willing to read yet another book on child nutrition to gain more insight into this and his ADD tendencies. In What's Eating Your Child, Dorfman outlines the value of nutrition as a part of the overall medical picture of your child. She says:

"We constantly give lip service to the idea of diet being important to behavior, growth, and development, but as soon as there is an illness or symptom, medicine is in and nutrition is out. We know from experience and studies that good nutrition is important for fighting illness...and optimal learning, but linking one specific condition to one specific nutrient is the exception rather than the rule."

The bulk of Kelly Dorfman's book is the relation of several examples of children who've suffered maladies such as anxiety, frequent ear infections, stomach aches, picky eating, rashes, ADHD, bipolarism, failure to thrive, and sleeping problems. Her telling of these examples, one chapter per malady, reflects an understanding of the realities of feeding independent children, along with a passion for solving their problems and bringing peace to their parents. She believes whole-heartedly, and provides over 150 sources to confirm the fact that nutrition and medicine together can greatly help most children with these and many other ailments.

Kelly provides a useful distinction between food allergies and food sensitivities in this book: an allergic reaction is narrowly defined as symptoms following a histamine response such as itching or swelling, whereas a sensitivity would be expressed by a broader group of responses that are induced by a complicated group of non-histamine messenger chemicals, responses ranging from joint pain to moodiness.

And, perhaps most importantly, she shares all of this information not in a condescending or patronizing tone, but in the spirit of providing the tools for every parent to become their child's own "nutrition detective." This, in my mind, is one of the key indicators of the quality of this book: Kelly Dorfman is more interested in supporting parents in their role of primary managers of their child's welfare, than being seen as an "expert," though indeed, that's what she is.

Have you read What's Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND? What did you think of the book? In what ways did you find it to be helpful?

This book was provided to me free-of-charge by Workman Publishing. The opinions about the book are my own.

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