Eating for Health is a system, not a diet, developed by Dr. Ed Bauman as an alternative to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary recommendations and other one-size-fits-all dietary approaches. It seeks to strategically develop food plans for people rather than having them eat according to a food model that has worked for some but not all people. It serves to clear up the confusion engendered by the vast array of supposedly very different popular diets. It features fresh, whole foods that align with people’s needs, preferences, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, with attention paid to changes in seasons, situations, aging and health challenges. The goals of this system are to show the average person how they can obtain optimal amounts of macro-nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytonutrients (plant alkaloids with protective value) from food and thereby be less dependent on dietary supplements to fulfill nutritional needs for growth and repair as well as for recovery from injury and illness. Eating for Health emphasizes the intrinsic pleasure of enjoying delicious whole foods on a daily basis, eaten mindfully, to nourish not only one’s physical self but also one’s emotional, mental and spiritual being.
Eating for Health: Philosophy
In Eating for Health, we embrace two powerful maxims — ‘Food is the best medicine’ and ‘Know thyself’—and create a synergy that opens the way to wellness and service.
The Eating for Health model provides a map for healthful eating that draws on a wide array of traditional and modern dietary principles and practices. It aims to teach people to better understand how the chemicals, additives, processing, packaging, and preparation of much of the food they have eaten has contributed to diminished health, while providing guidelines that encourage people to create and enjoy meals based upon fresh, whole foods that suit their cultures, ethnicities, budgets, and preferences. Genetics, biochemistry, psychology, physiology, age, and sensitivities all influence one’s optimal choices of food. Clearly, one size does not fit all with nutrition or shoe selection. It never has and never will.
Proper nutrition is a major form of health investing. When a person consistently eats poor quality food, they deplete nutrient reserves in their bones, soft tissues, organs, glands, skin, and hair. They wear the results of being overdrawn nutritionally — an unhealthy appearance — and feel the warning signs of ill health, which typically manifest as fatigue, pain, and mood swings.
The Eating for Health approach is to share current, non-biased research on the health benefits of whole foods, botanicals, nutrient supplementation, lifestyle and exercise to enable individuals to recognize that they have a great power in what they choose to eat, which will impact their energy, mood, body composition and the quality and duration of life. Since every bite of what one eats and each sip one drinks becomes the matrix of their cells, tissues, organs, mind, and body, eating a variety of fresh, whole foods on a daily basis is an essential form of self-care and preventive medicine.
Eating for Health is also founded on the principle of sustainability, both in terms of what dietary patterns will sustain individuals on a long-term basis and what food production methods will help sustain or improve the health of the planet’s soils and waters. And as a holistic practice, Eating for Health also looks to various spiritual traditions that place great importance on mindful eating practices and social connection. It was designed to help nutrition professionals guide their clients toward the most nutritionally sound approaches for them as individuals. By eating well consistently, people learn what foods best nourish and sustain them during stressful changes that threaten the health and impede recovery.
Eating for Health Concepts
The Eating for Health program promotes high-quality whole foods, suited to individual needs, tastes, and ethnicities. It takes into consideration biochemical individuality and lifestyle, the factors that make all of us unique beings with unique requirements. This flies in the face of many current dietary trends, which often cater to the public craving for structured diets and strict rules. Thus we see several popular trends — the Paleolithic and ancestral diets; the Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan diets; low-carbohydrate, high protein; low-fat; and the more restrictive diets such as Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS); allergen-free; and FODMAPs (omission of fermentable sugars). All of these can indeed play an important role in health promotion — for some people — and the Eating for Health philosophy makes room for the concepts engendered by them all, but with a flexible, non-dogmatic approach.
Nutrition Bandits and Heroes
Eating for Health embraces a concept coined by Dr. Bauman called nutrition bandits. These are the stimulants, sugars, refined grain products, conventional dairy and meat products, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils in our overly processed, nutrient-depleted, industrially produced American food supply. These are the foods we find on our grocery store shelves and in the chain and fast-food restaurants. Such foods are formulated in laboratories to over-stimulate our taste receptors and quite literally to addict us to processed food flavors and textures (1) so that we are no longer satisfied by the crunch of a carrot, the refreshingly sweet juice of fresh mango or the zing of fresh garlic.
While it’s easy to over-eat nutrient-poor, sugary, salty, greasy snack foods, you can enjoy nutrition heroes, another important Eating for Health concept, in abundance. These are naturally satisfying, nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and clean animal proteins and fats.
Eating for Health is a whole foods approach to nutrition developed to provide an alternative to the USDA MyPlate and other unbalanced diet approaches, ranging from those that are overly protein- or fat-heavy to those that advocate exceptionally low protein and fat. The Eating for Health model guides us in choosing nutrient-dense and diverse foods that are organic, local, seasonal and unprocessed, and that are suited to each individual.