Kitchen Medicine: How I Fed My Daughter Out of Failure to Thrive

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Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.51 X 8.58 X 0.79 inches | 0.79 pounds

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About the Author

Debi Lewis has written for outlets including The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Huffington Post, and more. She lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband and two teenaged daughters. You can learn more about her at http: // and follow her on Twitter at @growthesunshine.


Parents whose pediatricians cite their children's "failure to thrive" should find comfort in this story about a mom's fight to help her daughter. Despite being born a week past her due date, Sammi weighs less than five pounds. Unlike her older sister, Ronni, a voracious, adventurous eater, Sammi sometimes subsists on little more than blueberries. Lewis, her understandably worried mom, takes her to see doctors and prepares unusual family meals. To avoid reflux triggers, she prepares meals without lemon, chocolate, or tomatoes. And during an elimination test, she forgoes dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat. Before Sammi turns five, she finally gets diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that damages the esophagus. Then, after surgeries and good medical treatment, she officially becomes a well child. Today, she is a healthy 16-year-old. Lewis, previously obsessed with her daughter's diet, concludes that it's important to pick the right battles and doctors and to see beyond a child's medical issues. It's sound advice for parents who find themselves in Lewis' shoes or more accurately, given how much time she spends cooking, in her apron.

-- "Booklist"

There are a lot of elements of this book that I loved -- the free-flowing storytelling that draws you in from the first page, the fact that all the chapter headings are foods, the cliff-hanger moments -- but a major one was the fact that Lewis does not try to be perfect. She isn't a superhero in this story, she's just a human person trying to do her best in the face of a terrifying decade of uncertainty. She stumbles, and says things she regrets, and has to learn to be a staunch advocate who stands up to doctors and nurses. She has to learn how to make allergen-free everything for her family while being careful to maintain a positive attitude towards mealtime. None of this is easy. None of it is without pitfalls. Rather than shy away from the moments in which she stumbles, the author chooses to be completely open. This is true strength.

-- "TC Jewfolk"

While Kitchen Medicine is about a mother's quest to fulfill the role of nourishing mother, it's the author's underlying personal journey with food and her metamorphosis that I related to at every stage and kept me turning the page.... I fell in love with the author's determination, resilience, and beautiful writing. It is a medical drama, a reference guide, and a coming-of-age memoir that's alternately funny and tender, it's suitable for anyone struggling with complex food issues, who identifies as a foodie, or simply likes a good read.

-- "Moms Don't Have Time to Write"

Debi Lewis is a master storyteller. Her gorgeous memoir, Kitchen Medicine, weaves the bright colors and gentle aromas of cooking through a fast-paced medical drama. More than a journey through her child's mysterious illness and hard-won recovery, this is the story of a woman finding joy and confidence in herself and her mothering while redefining her own relationship with food.

--Carrie Goldman, author, "Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know about Ending the Cycle of Fear"

In Kitchen Medicine, Lewis explores how we learn to measure our motherhood through our ability to feed our children, and what that means when it feels like we can't live up to all of the expectations and pressure put on family meals. While seeking answers for her daughter's mysterious medical problems, Lewis also learned how to parent and feed her family on her own terms. This beautifully-told story will resonate with any parent of a medically complex child, but also with anyone who understands the power of food to comfort and show love.

--Virginia Sole-Smith, author, "The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image and Guilt in America"

Debi Lewis has written a book of fierce maternal love that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a child. Equal parts culinary memoir and medical adventure, Kitchen Medicine is a well-crafted page-turner that feeds the reader with suspense. The book itself is both a mystery and a miracle of the heart. I'll never see a blueberry, or a sandwich, the same way again.

--Deborah Siegel-Acevedo, PhD, author of "Sisterhood, Interrupted" and coeditor of "Only Child"

Kitchen Medicine is a moving, beautifully written story of a brave mother who put her undying love for her daughter to work in the kitchen. Debi's creativity, patience, and fierce determination to heal her child through food is an inspiration, and her lovely prose is a joy to read.

--Gabi Moskowitz, author, "Hot Mess Kitchen"

Part heartbreaking love story, part breathless detective story, Kitchen Medicine: How I Fed My Daughter out of Failure to Thrive invokes our most primal and terrifying parental duty: the children's very survival. For any parent who has experienced diagnostic agony, medical mystery, or the bright certainty of instinct--this book will speak right to your heart.

--Catherine Newman, author of "How to Be a Person"