author of Feeding Eden


Susan Weissman has produced a remarkable, clear-eyed account of the difficulties of raising a child with severe allergies into something humane and beautiful. Feeding Eden is an honest, hopeful book, coming at a propitious moment in our complicated lives of food and family.

— Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure

Susan Weissman tells a gripping story of her son Eden’s struggles with food allergies. Feeding Eden is not only a beautifully written personal tale, but also a sharp-eyed and harrowing exploration of all the misunderstandings that face those to whom food itself — the very stuff of life — is toxic.

— Amanda Hesser, co-founder of

Stark, lyrical, and often funny, Susan Weissman leads the reader on a mother’s epic journey to raise a severely allergic son in a nutty world. Even if you don’t have kids, Feeding Eden will grab you on the first page and never let you go.

— Robert Wilder, author of Daddy Needs A Drink

Susan Weissman gives a powerful, candid account of her family’s struggle to adapt—and thrive—in the face of her young son’s life-threatening food allergies. But her insights aren’t limited those coping with allergies; Feeding Eden will resonate deeply with people facing many different kinds of challenges.

— Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

Feeding Eden is written in an easy-to-read style, and you really feel you get to know Susan and her family. I think that it would be helpful to read this book if you are just starting down the food-allergy road. It can feel really lonely when you are confronting multiple health challenges and the unique social stresses that food allergies introduce into a family. This book might just make you feel a little less alone in your journey. That’s a good thing.

Feeding Eden’s harrowing portrayal of the agony and terror of food allergies and other lethal autoimmune conditions is made fuller by the author’s equally compelling telling of the central parental conflict that binds her to her poor son’s suffering. Susan Weissman’s role as a parent is complicated to a degree few of us could imagine by the food triggers of Eden’s illnesses – intensifying the usual parental food and nutritional concerns to a constant, unyielding life-or-death struggle of hygiene, awareness, logistics, circumstances and madding mystery. Eden’s condition results in a physical and mental journey that few would navigate and endure with the tireless dedication and resolve Weissman demonstrates in her richly detailed and deeply researched book. Weissman writes with an endearing and candid narrative voice that makes this timely and timeless story an excellent read as well as a thought-provoking meditation on food, health, Western and Eastern medicine, marriage, parenting and, ultimately, the power of love to triumph over fear and despair.

…Feeding Eden: The Trials and Triumphs of a Food Allergy Family is the account — by turns harrowing, depressing, inspiring and sometimes, incredibly, outright funny — of Susan Weissman’s odyssey to create something like a normal life for her child. Mostly it’s a thriller with a triumphant ending; she knows what to do, her kid will be fine. “Feeding Eden” is really two books in one. If you have a food allergy or have a kid with one or someone whose child is afflicted, this book is Required Reading. Susan Weissman explored every solution and kept a journal; her reporting and her science are solid.

It’s equally valid as a love story. It begins with necessity: “becoming the parent you never intended to be when life doesn’t give us any other choice.” It moves into psychiatric territory: “When I try to tout my sanity to teachers and friends — ‘Oh, I try not to get too crazy’ — Crazy laughs its ass off in the corner.” It becomes changing every little thing about the way you live: “Wiping down kitchen counters — my food safety habits are my life.” It means you call food processing plants to see how many different kinds of products move along their conveyor belts, because the modest spillage from a “bad” one could taint the package of “good” food you buy.
And then it gets much bigger: “Maybe I could make a food that tasted as good as our love.”
There are iPhone apps for allergies now. And legislation that requires more precise labeling on foods. But there are no laws that define the obligation of parents of food-allergic children, no laws that measure when concern becomes obsession and obsession becomes commitment.

Susan Weissman is magnificent — you can read that in every line. Eden is one lucky kid.

Feeding Eden is about an epic journey through the dark and tangled wood of parenting a child with life-threatening food allergies. That said, Weissman shares her compelling story with great courage and candor (and amazingly, humor!), inviting readers onto the page and into her palpable world. A must-read for every educator, child-care professional and parent on the planet.

— PlanetMom

Feeding Eden, by Susan Weissman is a new memoir that speaks to the heart of what it means to parent a child with severe food allergies, everything from finding safe foods to exploring medical care, and ultimately, learning to live with your new normal.

When her young son Eden is diagnosed with multiple food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, fish, shellfish and several fruits), a new world of complications and parental fears are awakened for Weissman and her family. Ms. Weissman shares with us the terror of watching a child having anaphylaxis, the fears of what dangers he may face during “normal” activities like school and birthday parties and many other things that only food allergy parents will recognize as their own experience.

One of my favorite anecdotes was when Weissman described “cheating”, not as extramarital, but as eating allergenic foods with her husband when Eden isn’t around. (Show of hands for anyone else who has ever done this? I feel guilty for days if I go to a Thai restaurant on date night.) So much in this book is validating for the food allergy parent, who is often ridiculed or taken to task for their cautious approach to what others think of as harmless activities. Says Weissman in her book, “When I break from routine, there is always a risk particular to Eden. Whether I hire a new baby-sitter, purchase a new brand of tortillas, or plan a family day trip by ferry, I chance the unforeseeable.” Well said and truly understood only by another parent facing food allergies.

In a warm, humorous and engaging style, the author explores her family’s struggles and ultimate triumphs in a way that really spoke to me as a parent who faces the same concerns. I appreciated Weismann’s honesty about her battles, some of them quite poignant and some very humorous, such as her experiments with allergy-friendly baking (not always successful and joy-inducing). She even takes on those “surprise” classroom treats that are the bane of a food allergy parent’s existence in a story that will have you laughing and maybe even crying if you’ve ever had to deny your child “what all the other kids are eating.”

And what about food as love? When you have a child with multiple food allergies, this can seem impossible, yet Weissmman describes coming to terms with this notion, despite her son’s many allergies: “Loves comes out of my hands when I cook…my food safety habits are my love.” Any parent of a child with life-threatening food allergies will find much to savor in Feeding Eden.

I am almost nervous to review Susan Weissman’s Feeding Eden
 because I worry that I will
not be able to fully and accurately express just how good, how helpful, and how meaningful this book has been to me.

When my five-year-old son
was diagnosed with severe
food allergies at 18 months
of age, I felt completely
untethered. It’s scary enough
to bring up a child in this
world. What with diapers, feeding schedules, booster shots, and teething all parents have their hands full. But then, to discover that your child has not just an allergy but also a life- threatening allergy made me feel vulnerable and alone. And the truly scary thing is that this reaction—one that mimics having the wind knocked out of one’s chest—is natural. How can a mother encourage her child to grow and explore the world when that world, the one that lies just beyond the window, is toxic to him in so many ways?

My perspective and my feelings changed once I read Weissman’s tour de force Feeding Eden. Not only is the book well written and engaging, but Weissman speaks to parents and caregivers of food allergic children. And she speaks to us as a friend. You get the sense that you and the author are sitting cozily, side-by-side on
the sofa while she relays her journey through food allergies with her son, Eden. The author really lets you into her world; each story is intimate and revealing. In fact, Weissman was so forthcoming and so open about her feelings that I almost wanted to lean over and say, “wait, let me share my story too.”

Weisman’s story begins when Eden is just a baby and has horrible eczema. Actually horrible is a misnomer. Eden’s eczema is nightmarish. He also has trouble eating, sleeping, he cries a
lot, is clingy… the list goes on. Feeding Eden chronicles Weissman’s journey to find the right pediatrician and allergist for her son. She has a lot of trial and error until she finds a correct diagnosis for Eden and the right doctors for him.

While Weissman finds the right doctor, she explores and relays the medical side of food allergies, but
in a way that’s easy to understand. She also takes us inside her family’s kitchen, sharing her knowledge about recipes and how to navigate holiday gatherings, birthday parties, and school celebrations. Reader: I cried at Weissman’s stories. The day-to-day situations that Weissman describes are so real to the parent of a food allergic child that I wept with joy that there was someone out there who understood my heartache for my son and his situation.

Weissman has a loving husband, as do I, and another child without food allergies—me too. She relates how her family has reached a stasis when it comes to food. Everyone may have a sandwich for dinner, she says, but not everyone’s sandwich will look the same. When it was time to make a birthday cake for Eden, Weissman relentlessly and tirelessly makes cake after cake until, finally, she finds one that’s right.

Throughout Feeding Eden Weissman is confessional—even delving into dark places. She bravely admits (something I’ve thought plenty but never had the guts to speak aloud) that she almost feels calmer when Eden has a reaction because she can actually do something. What she means is something that I’ve felt too: I worry. Every moment my son exists is a moment when he could, realistically, have a reaction. While he is not consciously aware of the risks at this age, I am. However when he is having a reaction (my son, like Eden, has had anaphylaxis a few times), the epinephrine has been used and he’s been fine.

Weissman is neither hyperbolic nor belittling about Eden’s situation and the day-to-day challenges. She tells it like it is. I cannot say enough good things about Feeding Eden. Actually, the only thing I didn’t like about the book is that it had to end.

I encourage you to read Feeding Eden. I know you will benefit from Weissman’s candid retelling of her own difficult story. To me, the book was a lifeline that I am still clinging to, still savoring and appreciating.

— Rose Ann Miller

For all the stories I have heard, all the mothers and patients I have listened to, I have never gotten so thoroughly into the experience of a child, the effects on a marriage and a sibling, and above all the mind of a mom as I do with the Weissmans when Susan throws herself into the unexpected health challenges of her adored son.

— From the Foreword to Feeding Eden by Dr. Paul Ehrlich, co-author of Asthma Allergies Children: a parent’s guide and co-founder of