Food has the power to greatly support or completely undermine health. What, how much, and when we eat can often determine whether we live relatively healthy lives or spend much of it dealing with chronic illness. To celebrate the beginning of a new decade and to put health at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we invited Jennifer Franck—Assistant Chief of the Department of Nourishment Arts® at The Center for Discovery—to discuss the role of food in health and how chefs have the ability to transform people’s lives through food. During the talk, she was joined by The Center’s Executive Chef, Peggy Parten, who demonstrated these ideas in a dish prepared with ingredients grown on the farm. ICC’s Dean of Italian Studies, Chef Cesare Casella is The Center for Discovery’s Chief of The Department of Nourishment Arts®, where he leads a team of chefs creating innovative ways of delivering nutrition to the organization.
The Center for Discovery is a major research and specialty center that offers residential, medical, clinical and special education programs as well as world-class Music and Creative Arts Therapy, Adapted Physical Education, and a biodynamic agricultural program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Through their programs, they offer a 360° view of food and use this to power the health of their residents. They also bring together farmers, chefs, and nutritionists to ensure the food that they provide is maximized at every point along the food chain.
Did you know, each day we make over 150 food related decisions? Below, learn about some of The Center’s “Principles of Healthy Eating”—the foundations of food that they teach all of their residents and guidelines you can apply to your daily choices as well!
Eat Real Food
Eating whole, non-processed, high quality food is the first step to living a healthier life. Eating whole foods is about consuming food in it’s most natural form, meaning nothing has been added or taken away.
Make Plants Rule
At least 50% of your plate should come from plant sources. By filling your plate with a “rainbow” of colors (the darker, the better!), you’re providing your body with more nutrients. Plants provide the necessary micronutrients (i.e. vitamins & minerals) that our body needs. It’s important to include a variety of different naturally colored foods on your plate—The Center recommends at least 3 per meal—as each provides different micronutrients necessary in our diets.
Feast First From The Farm
Feasting first from the farm means eating local and seasonal. Not only is this important for the health of our environment, but it also impacts our gut health. The human microbiome is influenced by our environment, and that includes our food. Our good gut bacteria understands how to digest foods that grow in our local environment, allowing us to get the most nutrients from our food.
Keep It Old School
There’s a reason that techniques and cooking methods invented thousands of years ago are still around today—they are effective at drawing the most nutrients from our food. Traditional cooking methods like fermentation are a great way to preserve the integrity of our food while also developing flavor and maximizing nutrients.
Choose Healthy Meat
Animal products that have been raised humanely are good for your health and wellness. When selecting meat, be sure that the package reads “100% grass-fed” and not “grass finished.” Grass finished implies that the animal was fed grains at some point and potentially given harmful nutrients. The healthiest animals to eat are the ones that eat what they should be eating, like grass!
Limit Factory Food
This is one of the most important elements of their healthy eating principles—avoid processed foods and refined grains & sugars. Food is information for the body, it tells our body how to act and signals changes in our health. A good rule of thumb to live by? If you don’t recognize the ingredients on the label, then your body doesn’t either!