Planetary Stewardship, Good Health, and Good Taste for a Healthy Diet

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On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Dr. David Katz, founder and Director of the True Health Initiative (THI), dispels the myth that health experts can’t agree on healthy and sustainable eating. At THI, a movement that joins more than 400 world–renowned experts into a common voice for health advice, “you get a seemingly disparate group that never agrees on anything, to actually say to the world, in a single unified voice, ‘we agree,’” says Katz. “After all, 95 percent of the puzzle of what’s important about diet and health is common ground.”

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“I’ve been working for the last 30 years to try and turn what we know reliably about healthy eating and living into the prevailing norms, and all the while we keep bopping from fad diet to fad diet,” says Katz. At THI, experts agree that the tool for better nutrition, less disease, and a smaller environmental footprint is a healthy diet: a pattern with surprisingly simple rules and guidelines. “I think people have a hard time appreciating how simple it is […] if it’s mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, and plain water for thirst, you cannot go too far wrong,” says Katz.

“We want to make common sense about diet common because it is shockingly uncommon at the moment,” explains Katz. His forthcoming book, The Truth About Food: Why Pandas Eat Bamboo and People Get Bamboozled, lays out this diet, the reasons behind it, and ways “uncommon sense” health guidelines attempt to distort it.

Katz recently founded Diet Quality Photo Navigation (DQPN), which uses Diet ID, a diet assessment tool, to determine a user’s dietary patterns. “We invented a method where you look at fully realized images of dietary patterns. All you have to do is figure out which one is more like you […] Within about 30 seconds, we can tell you what your diet is,” explains Katz. As the CEO of DQPN, Katz hopes that users rely on the tool not only to analyze their current diet patterns, but also to improve their diet quality. “We can play the same game to help you identify a goal diet, and then we can help you navigate from where you are to where you want to be and track your progress,” explains Katz.

“We originally developed this with a focus on health […] but by mapping diets the way we did to create our library, we also recognized that there is a gradient in the environmental footprint of diets,” says Katz. Currently, DPQN is developing a form of Diet ID to equip users with health guidelines for protecting the planet’s health.

While being selective about a healthy diet may seem to require restraint, Katz firmly believes that a healthy and sustainable diet is the most satisfying interaction with food. “Go for good planetary stewardship, pleasure from good health, pleasure from good taste. That’s the trifecta, and absolutely: we can have all three,” says Katz.

Photo courtesy of The Wave

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