FUTURE HUMAN

Meet the Startup That Thinks DNA Can Predict Your Best Diet

In the fast-growing field of genetic dieting, the promises of weight loss and better health are many. Here’s how the claims stack up

Elizabeth G. Dunn
OneZero
Published in
12 min readJul 25, 2018

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Illustration by Lan Truong

InIn stressful times, one of my favorite acts of self-care is to hunker down behind my desk and binge-watch TED Talks, riding the swells of emotional well-being that come along with, say, learning how David Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes underwater, or uncovering the secret power of introverts. It was in this context that I first discovered Neil Grimmer, the CEO of Habit, a company that aims to liberate humans from fad diets forever, using a concept called personalized nutrition.

Grimmer took the stage at TEDx San Francisco clad in thick-rimmed glasses and black jeans, a pair of tatted sleeves descending from his black T-shirt. The dad-punk aesthetic belies his past as an organic baby-food tycoon; Grimmer is the founder of Plum Organics, the leading purveyor of vacuum-packed kiddie purees, which he sold to the Campbell Soup Company in 2013 for a cool $249 million. But the topic at hand wasn’t what babies eat (or even what babies think, another fascinating TED Talk). Rather, it was Grimmer’s own personal health journey, which follows an arc that has become a trademark of the self-help genre.

Grimmer was running one of America’s fastest-growing food companies, and the strain began to take a toll on his health. The year 2013, when he sold Plum Organics, was rock bottom. Grimmer had gained a lot of weight. He was prediabetic. He took stock of his life and did something that most of us non-baby-food-millionaires could only dream of: Grimmer traveled the world, submitting himself to the most sophisticated battery of genetic and metabolic tests available, and then enlisted a team of experts to translate that information into a diet.

Within six months of his new regimen, Grimmer reached his goal weight, regained his energy, and restored his blood work to healthy numbers: the holy trinity of modern dietary victory.

Ever since, Grimmer has been on a mission to give others the same experience. If he could harness the power of his own biological data to design the…

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Elizabeth G. Dunn
OneZero

NYC-based journalist covering food + innovation. Professional writer, amateur mother. www.elizabethgdunn.com