As a nutrition professional, I need to be able to communicate why food matters. For me, “healthy eating” is not an end in and of itself. Instead, it is a means by which we participate in something greater than ourselves; what we eat becomes us, energizes us on a cellular level, and impacts our genetic expression, possibly even influencing generations to come as epigenetic science suggests.
Eating is deeply personal, spiritual, and generative.
This is all the more relevant as healthcare and nutrition move toward the adoption of more personalized approaches—as we have the technological ability to dive into an individual’s biochemical and genetic fingerprint. We are living through the transition from 20th- to 21st-century healthcare, now recognizing that acute therapies have not been able to address lifestyle diseases. We have grave concerns about the overuse of pharmaceuticals alongside stable or rising rates of many chronic diseases. Many also recognize the deficits of healthcare and insurance systems that may further disenfranchise the poor due to restricted access to providers and treatments. An important question for me is what impact can personalized nutrition have if most people can't access or afford the healthcare services they need?
What’s more, we don't eat in a vacuum. Eating is social and we are social creatures, hardwired for connection (shoutout to Brené Brown). Nutrition is about science, yes. It’s also about deepening our connections to one another and engaging in the daily habits and rhythms of our lives in ways that promote flourishing for ourselves and those around us.