There are two ways to explain food allergies and intolerances to children: my way, which is to say "You can't have that because it will make you sick," and the Gordy and the Magic Diet way. Believe me, the Gordy way is a lot more effective.
Written by Kim Diersen and April Runge and illustrated by Carrie Hartman, parents of children with food sensitivities, Gordy and the Magic Diet is a fun, easy-to-understand look at this issue. The book starts with Gordy dealing with "a Monster" that makes him feel "icky, angry, tired, sick, sad, confused, explosive, itchy, stinging". Because of his monster, he misses the Fourth of July fireworks, his turn at the pinata at cousin Lulu's birthday party, and meeting his new teacher.
"How do I make my Monster go away?" Gordy cries. The solution is a "Magic Diet". The authors explain that this doesn't mean drinking green slime, but eating some foods and not eating others. At first Gordy doesn't like his Magic Diet--"It smells like dirty socks," he complains--but he gets used to it and his symptoms disappear.
It's not fun turning down foods such as lollipops, cotton candy and cherry slushies or Grandma's "The World's Best Double-Fudge Chocolate Cake with sprinkles on top", but Gordy learns that he is responsible for his diet. When he follows it, he has no Monster. But when he cheats with Grandma's cake--and who can blame him?--he has symptoms that are intolerable.
Halloween is difficult for Gordy, but he sticks to his diet. Some days are harder than others, but Gordy discovers that skipping junk food and being free from his Monster is better than eating it and suffering.
"Living on a 'Magic Diet' is a journey that has its challenges, but it is so worth it," writes author Kim Dierson, whose son is on a gluten-free, artificial-free diet.
Author April Runge agrees. "The Monster in our home was a beastly sort, more like an invisible terrorist," she writes. "Our daughter was diagnosed with catastrophic pediatric epilepsy for which there was no known cause, but a very poor prognosis. The doctors tried to tame the hundreds of daily seizures through various cocktails of anti-epilepsy medications that left her a zombie and shell of a child. After starting the highly restrictive Ketogenic Diet, our daughter quickly emerged from the medications fog. Within 4 months, the hundreds of daily seizures disappeared and over time, medications were weaned. She now lives life as a healthy seizure-free and medication-free child. This special medical diet was a very magical gift."
Illustrator Carrie Hartman writes "Gluten tends to make my oldest daughter's tummy ROAR loudly. My other daughter's Monster is preservatives. By discovering our family's intolerance to processing these ingredients, we have been able to greatly reduce the headaches, achiness, tiredness, mood swings and tummy aches that were daily occurrences."
The book has a website. Portions of the proceeds benefit non-profits specializing in helping children navigate restrictive diets. The book is also on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/gordy.magicdiet.
I used to have severe hypoglycemia (my blood sugar dropped to 36 during the test to diagnose it), and I wish I'd had this book twenty years ago. I'll be honest--I hated my Magic Diet at first and have not-so-fond memories of not being able to eat the food my friends were eating and feeling upset--I cried at the ice cream social. But my Magic Diet kept me from feeling irritable and sleepy. This book is a must-read for anyone dealing with a food allergy/intolerance/sensitivity or for someone who needs to understand a restrictive diet.
You can purchase the book through the website for $9.99. It is currently shipped to the United States, Canada and Australia. Books are shipped via USPS First Class Mail within 48 hours of ordering. Discounts are available for retailers or volume purchases. The authors and illustrator are also available for school presentations. They live in the Chicagoland area.
I give this book five stars because it is vital to helping a child understand his or her "Magic Diet". But don't take my word for it. Max, a second grader from Illinois, wrote on the web page ""I like your story because whoever reads it will understand me! I am allergic to peanuts, rice, and carrots."