This weekend I reached out to Julie Sawaya and Ryan Woodbury, the co-founders of Needed, a thoughtful nutrition company on a mission to create broader nourishment for women through better supplements, fundamentals-focused education, and community. One of Needed’s core values is “abundance over scarcity." I was interested to learn more about this approach to nourishment.
What does nutritional abundance mean to you, and how does this approach differ from the mainstream nutrition conversation?
Abundance over scarcity is an approach to nutrition that emphasizes food diversity and inclusion, rather than food restrictiveness. It is eating for real nourishment--biochemically and emotionally--rather than just to hit specific caloric or macronutrient intakes. It is drawing perspective from science, nature, modern and ancient traditions, and our own individuality when determining how to properly nourish our bodies. Finally, for Needed, it is about making quality nutrition information, products, and a supportive community accessible to everyone, including women and families that have historically lacked nutritional access.
Too often nutrition is viewed from a narrow lens. It’s rare that a particular food or nutrient is incontrovertibly bad for you- even cholesterol is critically important to our health. And yet, our nutrition conversation often veers into the territory of isolating nutrients and either celebrating or vilifying them as inherently “good” or “bad”. Important nuance is lost in assigning these labels.
How does this abundant approach guide your work at Needed?
As consumers, prior to starting Needed, we found ourselves turning to nutrition textbooks, pouring over PubMed for the latest scientific research, and seeking out answers from health practitioners spanning modern and ancient paradigms--all to arrive at a balanced perspective.
We knew this approach was out of reach for many, and that there had to be a better way. Today, we create educational content that parses out nutrition facts from mainstream fiction, presenting nuanced, sometimes conflicting opinions from the clinical research and other expert opinions (from researchers to doctors, doulas, reproductive health advocates and more). We recognize that meeting biochemical nutrition needs alone is not enough for real nourishment, and our content reflects this. For the especially nutritionally curious, we provide resources on how to identify and interpret credible nutrition research for yourself. Diving into clinical nutrition studies can be intimidating at first, but it’s really worth getting into the practice in order to discern what the science is telling us--beyond just a sensationalized soundbite.
Community is also integral to empowering real nourishment. Our community brings together consumers and trusted health practitioners--many of whom have first-hand experience in overcoming overly restrictive diets and food fears. Through this community of fellow-learners, we are empowering women to tap into a more intuitive way of nourishing themselves, paying attention to what their bodies need and what makes them feel good. We’ve found this to be especially resonant for women navigating
the physical, emotional and mental shifts of pregnancy and postpartum recovery.
Julie Sawaya & Ryan Woodbury
Julie Sawaya and Ryan Woodbury are the co-founders of Needed. Both lifelong nutrition enthusiasts with a passion for nutritional access, and former finance professionals, they met as next door neighbors at Stanford’s graduate business school. It didn’t take long for them to realize their shared passion for and desire to improve the nutrition paradigm for women, especially mamas and mamas-to-be. Needed grew organically, beginning as friends sharing nutrition products, textbooks, and scientific white papers, along with frustrations and ideas for improving how women can better identify and meet their nourishment needs.