In her debut, Blake reveals how she copes with her intolerances to everyday foods and offers tips to fellow sufferers.
“I have lost the ability to digest 95% of the foods that everyone else enjoys,” the author begins. She arrived at this point of extreme dietary restriction after 30 years of declining health and weight loss. After realizing that diarrhea was the primary sign that she couldn’t tolerate a particular food, she gradually eliminated such foods from her diet, including most fruits and vegetables, many grains and nuts, oil, starch, fish, and most dairy products. The author demonstrates a deep knowledge of human anatomy in this book; for example, she explains the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome and the role of digestive enzymes, and also provides a helpful diagram of the digestive system. Perhaps controversially, she characterizes the common labeling of diarrhea-manifested digestive problems as irritable bowel syndrome as “meaningless and insulting.” At times, the book’s advice can feel too fussy, as when the author insists that vegetables be grown outdoors and that people should use no lotion on their hands before handling food; even non-stick pan coatings and tap water merit suspicion. Moreover, the list-based format can be repetitive. Luckily, many elements are widely applicable, such as a food tolerance chart and information on avoiding toxins and pesticides. The book also strikes a good balance between declarative and imperative statements. “It is healthier to be safe than gourmet,” Blake insists, a dictum that accounts for the very small range of foods that she uses in the 14 recipes: baked meat, casseroles, roasted potatoes, blanched almonds, and dark chocolate form staples of her diet. Intriguing snippets of autobiography suggest that several of these foods are ones that her British mother cooked while the author was growing up, and that by writing about bodily functions, Blake is breaking family taboos. It therefore took real courage, after decades of fighting to stabilize her health, to write this book for others’ benefit.
A handbook that should encourage readers who have complicated relationships with food.