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Startup Aims to Get People in the 'Habit' of Eating What Their Bodies Truly Crave

Habit, a new startup at the intersection of nutrition, technology and food delivery, will offer personalized nutrition solutions for the likely millions of Westerners who have yet to find a 'diet' that works for them.

Habit, a new startup at the intersection of nutrition, technology and food delivery, will offer personalized nutrition solutions for the likely millions of Westerners who have yet to find a 'diet' that works for them.

Created by Plum Organics founder and CEO Neil Grimmer, Habit – which launches in January – guides users toward optimal health and wellbeing by creating a personal nutrition blueprint for each user. Unlike generic, one-size-fits-all eating fads, which may work for one person but not another, Habit develops nutrition recommendations based on an individual’s unique biology, metabolism and personal goals, then helps users reach their health goals by delivering fresh, personalized meals to their doorstep, and supporting through one-on-one wellness and nutrition coaching.

“I founded Habit after my own health and wellness wake-up call,” Grimmer said. “Two years ago, my doctor looked me in the eyes and told me - a former Ironman triathlete - that I was on the road to some serious health issues. After undergoing a complex and costly path of DNA and blood tests to understand my body’s fundamental nutrition needs, I realized there had to be a simpler, more accessible way for others to learn what foods and nutrients their bodies crave to be the healthiest they can be.”

The Habit team is comprised of nutrition scientists, health advisors, researchers, technologists, registered dietitians, chefs, food scientists, and business leaders. While everything around us has become more personal and quantifiable, people still approach nutrition with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Habit’s one-size-does-*not-*fit-all approach leverages science to analyze body metrics that tell us what our bodies need for optimal wellbeing.

How It Works

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An at-home blood test kit measures over 60 different biomarkers, which include nutrition-related blood markers; how these markers change in response to a proprietary, milkshake-like metabolic challenge beverage; and genetic variations within your DNA. You also provide several body metrics including body weight, height and waist size, as well as your health goals. Habit’s proprietary and patent-pending approach, including the Nutrition Intelligence Engine, then synthesizes the data to determine the foods and nutrients that are best for you. Certified coaches will be on hand to help you meet your goals through tailored plans, while a team of chefs prepares the food your body is really craving (which may be very different from what your mouth or brain may be craving), delivered straight to your door.

Based on the results, Habit then places users in one of seven categories - such as a "Protein Seeker" - accompanied with a caloric breakdown of how many carbs, fats, and proteins the user should eat per day. Once they’ve been typed, users are offered a 30-minute virtual consultation with a registered dietitian who makes nutrition recommendations. Habit’s service also includes the option to buy meals customized to their category (roughly $12-15 apiece), to be delivered to their home.

That, combined with the upfront expense of the testing kit ($299) has led critics to point out that Habit will be inaccessible to those most in need - namely, people in lower-income communities who lack access to fresh, nutritious food and are therefore most prone to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Grimmer told Fast Company his goal is to bring down the price through scale: “I’ve set up the company so we have our benefit baked into the bylaws. We want to make it available to at-risk populations, whether it’s to manage hunger, obesity, or any other condition.”

Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Plum Organics in 2013, is Habit’s sole investor.

“The entire food industry is being transformed by the fusion of food, well-being and technology,” said Denise Morrison, Campbell’s President and CEO. “Habit is well positioned in this wired for well-being space and poised to lead the personalized nutrition category. Campbell’s investment is part of our broader efforts to define the future of food, which requires fresh thinking, new models of innovation, smart external development and venture investing to create an ecosystem of innovative partners.”