Dossier: Healthy eating

“You’re on the right track with seasonal cooking”

We’re constantly being bombarded with one healthy eating trend after the other, and new miracle diets such as interval fasting being promoted one minute and dietary supplements promising eternal youth the next. So what’s true and what is actually healthy? Dietician Patrik Jauch says that it’s not that complicated.

Text: Michelle de Oliveira; photo: iStock

Mr Jauch, what’s your advice for someone who wants to eat healthily? 

It depends on the person’s age, lifestyle and if they have any special dietary requirements. However, you’re definitely on the right track if you eat a variety of fresh and seasonal food. It’s a good idea to stick to Switzerland’s food pyramid.

So, the Swiss food pyramid is still relevant?

Yes, even though it’s pretty much common sense and many people are tired of hearing about it, the food pyramid is still useful for a large part of the population, i.e. for people with no special dietary requirements.

Nevertheless, there is an increasing trend towards vegetarianism.

Eating a lot of meat can have a negative impact on health, for example due to the high quantities of saturated fatty acids and arachidonic acid, and can encourage obesity and associated illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A balanced vegetarian diet can improve blood sugar values and reduce blood pressure.

Is the same true of a vegan diet?

Vegans need to pay even more attention to eating a balanced diet. It’s easier for the body to absorb iron, calcium or B12 from animal-based rather than plant-based foods. So vegans have to make sure that they get enough iron, which can be found in foods like nuts, seeds or pulses like lentils, beans and peas. Eating food containing vitamin C at the same time, including fruit and vegetables, helps the body absorb iron.

Can vitamin supplements compensate for deficiencies?

Yes, for example, vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans, which can only be found in animal products. I don’t otherwise tend to recommend supplements for healthy people who eat a broad and balanced diet. However, if a person is sick, pregnant or under a lot of stress, dietary supplements such as magnesium can help, or vitamin D for infants or senior citizens. In case of increased need or suspected deficiency, it is essential to consult a specialist.

Sugar and salt have been on the naughty list for years. Rightly so?

If you use fresh, non-processed ingredients, you automatically eat less sugar and salt. So, if you want a piece of chocolate or a slice of cake, eat it and enjoy it. Everything in moderation.

Have we forgotten how to enjoy food?

To some extent, yes. We live in hectic times, eating hastily and often without any real rhythm. This stress has a negative impact on how our body utilises food. A healthy diet is only effective when we make time for meals, savour every mouthful and focus on what we’re doing.

The interviewee

Patrik Jauch, qualified dietician and hypnotherapist, Altdorf

Trained as a dietary cook and with many years of experience as a hospital dietician, since 2022 Jauch has helped people change their diet at his own practice. He also lectures at the Prävensana Fachschule für Gesundheitsberufe (college for health professions) and supervises projects in health promotion and gastronomy.