Tuesday, April 17, 2012

*that* mom's bookshelf - April Edition

I've been behind on my posting here, but I've been busy reading! This makes 9 books for the year making my 12 book goal for 2012 look a little low. Maybe I'll aim for 12 books for each half of the year!

I'm also in the middle of a gluten-free trial diet with my family, which may turn into a gluten-free, casein-free trial. I'll share more about why and how this is going in the next few weeks as I hopefully come up with some more answers. And, I'm still trying to recover from my running injuries so that I can get back it. I just started round 2 of Physical Therapy (with a therapist who I will hopefully like a lot more than the last) today, and I will update soon on what's going on and what's working for me (once I figure it out).
Run Less, Run Faster is built on the premise of running less miles at a faster pace in order to better train your body. It incorporates 3 weekly runs combined with 2 quality cross-training workouts. The argument is that by resting your running muscles while exercising others you are going to be able increase your fitness while avoiding injury and burnout. Makes sense to me. While reading it, I could not have possible run less because I was on my running hiatus due to injury. I find that my body and my schedule do not allow 5+ days of running weekly, and I thought this book would give me helpful information on how to train without hitting the kind of mileage others cover. The workouts are precise with goal paces and effort levels. There is also information on complementary strength training and stretching. I am not ready to take on one of the training plans, but I found the information interesting and I would consider it in the future.

This book looks at both food sensitivities as well as nutritional deficiencies as a cause or contributing factor for a variety of childhood ailments. I was curious for both my children who are not good sleepers. One has frequent stomachaches while another is extremely sensitive and anxious. There was good information on everything from good multi-vitamins to specific vitamin deficiencies in addition to food allergies or sensitivities. I found the information on zinc to be very interesting and new to me, while the the information regarding probiotics and fish oils reinforced what I already knew. The author has a brief but excellent section on melatonin as a sleep aid. We use this already for my older son, and her section increased my confidence in our use of it. I'm considering taking either or both gluten and dairy out of our diets as a trial but fear the change. Dorfman asks parents to be detectives in their children's nutrition and symptoms. It is still a daunting task, but I found her information helpful and this is something to which we keep returning.

This book describes itself as a guide to understanding and parenting unusually sensitive and empathetic children. It stretched my ideas of intuition and empathy at points, but generally I was struck the descriptions that related to my own son who is extremely empathetic. He absorbs so much of the emotion around him. The stress of those around him affect him greatly. Crawford intersperses her writing with stories of children and families she's counseled. These served as helpful illustrations of her points, but I admit to skipping some when I was in sections that seemed less pertinent to my child. I appreciated her descriptions of how a highly intuitive child sees and feels the world. She adequately explains that there are a lot of ways children can deal or not deal with this gift. My child for instance instead of being overly helpful and concerned for others gets to a point where he is so overwhelmed by the emotional input that he acts out in frustration and anger. Crawford spends most of the book explaining what a highly intuitive child is and some of the problems they may experience with short mentions of tools along the way. For the most part, she saves the tools for one chapter at the end of the book. This chapter is a very helpful wrap up of the information prior and includes more tools for giving these kids the skills they need to thrive with their gift.

This was a great first book for us as we entered into a gluten-free lifestyle (whether temporary or long-term). Korn describes what gluten is, where it's found, and a little bit about why you might want/need to avoid it. She mentions children who are casein-free in addition to gluten-free but doesn't actually provide much helpful information for casein-free life. She covers how to deal with school, talk to your kids, cross-contamination, eating out, and more as far as the basics of gluten free life. She does not include recipes but has a helpful list of easy go-to meals.  One issue I found was conflicting information on ingredients that may contain gluten. In one part of the book Korn lists things that previously were considered sources of gluten but are now known to be safe for gluten intolerant individuals; however, in the back of the book there is a go-to list of forbidden ingredients and some of those supposedly 'safe' ingredients are listed as forbidden. A little confusing to say the least! But overall, this was an easy read and a helpful start to the 'G' free world!

Shauna James Ahern is the author of the blog Gluten-free girl  as well as the book by the same name. The book chronicles her history with processed food, her discovery of celiac, and her journey to loving food and cooking. Discovering she had celiac disease forced her into the kitchen where she discovered simply amazing, high quality food. She definitely writes like a food snob, talking about finding rare olive oils and truffle oils and describing the tastes in detail. At my house, we already are kind of food snobbish so she was preaching to the choir. I enjoyed reading some of the stories, but others I was bored by her flowery writing. But, I love that this is a book that tells someone who must live without gluten that it is not the end of good food, in fact it could be the doorway to great food! She also discusses some of the practicality of meals with family, eating out, and just overall life without gluten.

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