The Athlete’s Fix, by Pip Taylor (Velo Press, 2016) is a clearly written, easy-to-grasp starting point for anyone, athlete or not, who suspects they have “food issues,” but have yet sorted them out. Taylor provides a base diet to follow (reducing inflammation is a key step when troubleshooting foods), food diary and food testing protocols, recipes, and the back story—what goes awry in the body when someone ingests a food they react to, including gluten intolerance.
As I had to dig for this information on my own decades ago (e.g. begging my allergist in the early ‘90s to challenge test me for corn starch, food dyes, etc. to prove I wasn’t allergic to “all antibiotics,” but all the filler crap in pills), nothing I read was earth shattering. For example, Taylor’s “base diet” (proteins, veggies, fruits, seeds and grasses, healthy fats), the springboard to testing and hopefully adding back additional foods, has been my actual diet for many, many years.
I really like her approach to customizing your diet though, and it’s the first time I’ve seen this philosophy in print. Taylor advocates that after inflammation has reduced, you can, and should try to increase your diet variety by adding back foods you formerly suspected as triggers, one at a time. When your body is dealing with a high level of chronic inflammation, it can be tough to identify which foods are the actual aggravators. Also, I thought Taylor’s message of “trusting yourself” is key for people to read, as in you can figure out which foods are best for you, all on your own, and even identify how much of a food and how often you can eat it without triggering a reaction.
The other point from The Athlete’s Fix that stayed with me the most was a statement made by Taylor at the beginning of her book, one that kept me reading to see how she’d back it up: Today, the average American eats the same few foods all of the time. I couldn’t imagine how this could be, especially when you think of the average American grocery—so much food! And the explosion of food options, in my lifetime at least, most likely from technology advancements (think: vastly improved refrigeration abilities and shipping speeds to import, all of the processed, convenience foods). But, Taylor’s explanation was dead on—the typical American is eating the same foods all the time—corn, wheat, soy, dairy—because these cheap fillers are added to just about everything that’s not a wholefood to reduce production costs.
To sum, The Athlete’s Fix, in my opinion, will be most helpful for the individual who’s just starting to connect the dots among “what should I eat to feel my best?” and is highly motivated (this tends to be athletes, because they’re highly motivated to preform their best) to figure it out. Certainly, following Taylor’s steps in the book is easier and much more affordable, and will provide much more personalized feedback, than many of the current food testing methods. Others, and I’m addressing my fellow long-term food warriors here, will glean an immediate helpful tip or two to apply, and benefit from expanding their basic digestion and nutrition knowledge.