Mineral Water & the Origins of Eat Better Nutrition

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In the late 80s/early 90s I lived and worked in Germany. (Yes, I was there when the Berlin Wall came down. Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump, always in interesting places at important times.) Over time, I pretty much became a local. I had an apartment, a car, and lots of German friends.

I learned that Germans tend to drink a lot of bottled water because, after WWII, tap water wasn’t safe for many years. In fact, I had cases of my favorite water, Gerolsteiner, delivered to my house like an old-time milkman. Eventually, I asked a friend why they had so many different brands and types. He explained that each brand came from a specific region and had a different mineral content and flavor. He said: “We Germans drink mineral water for what is in it. You Americans drink bottled water for what isn’t in it.” I didn’t know it at the time, but his answer would end up being the foundation for the Eat Better nutritional philosophy.

Nearly 20 years later, as the owner of Hilton Head Health, it finally clicked: eat food for what’s in it (nutrition), not for what’s not in it (calories). Others, most notably Chef Alice Waters, figured it out way earlier. I’ve never met her, but I wish I did back in 1971 when she opened Chez Panisse and pioneered the use of fresh, organic, local ingredients. She understood right from the start, working in her family garden as a young child. It probably didn’t hurt to have a mother who was into health food back in the 50’s. I’m sure their garden is bigger than ever.

At Hilton Head Health, we traditionally followed the latest clinically sound nutritional information. That meant a low-fat, low salt menu. However, when we opened H3’s True restaurant in 2015, I saw an opportunity. I realized we needed to focus on what is in our meals, rather than what isn’t. As you can see, the Eat Better nutritional philosophy was developed over decades of experience and I plan to keep evolving it as we learn more.

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