Athletes are influenced by coaches, other athletes, media, parents, the national sport governing body, members of the sports medicine team, and the athlete's own desire for success. It is impossible, therefore, for one member of the sports medicine team to unilaterally determine workable solutions that enhance performance and diminish health problems in an athlete. A focus on ensuring that the athlete can perform to the best of her ability is a key to encouraging discussion between the nutritionist, athlete, and coach. Using the assumption that health and top athletic performance are compatible, this focus on performance provides a discussion point that all parties can agree to and, if approached properly, also fulfills the nutritionist's goal of achieving optimal nutritional status. Membership on the sports medicine team mandates that the nutritionist know the paradigms and health risks associated with the sport and develop assessment and feedback procedures specific to the athlete's needs.
D. Benardot is with the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance, Center for Sports Medicine and Sport Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303.