RANCHO MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — When it comes to choosing what to eat, Elizabeth Geltz isn’t looking for the flashiest packaging because to her, it’s what’s inside that counts.

What You Need To Know

  • Elizabeth Geltz, formerly Elizabeth S. Hands, is the original founder of ESHA Research

  • In fact, ESHA Research introduced Genesis R&D in 1991 to help manufacturers comply with the NLEA, which codified nutrition labeling

  • For the first time, the NLEA mandated nutrition labels on packaged foods and standardized the layout

  • Geltz is now retired and living at Reata Glen, a retirement community in Rancho Mission Viejo, with her husband

Geltz always reads nutrition facts, labels and ingredients because while doing research to help her mom calm down her disease, she ended up creating a software.

Geltz started a company in the 1980s called ESHA Research after she became her mother’s caretaker. Her mom had rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and was taking 12 different medications a day to manage her pain.

“I decided I’d take time from working and see if I could cure her,” Geltz said. “My first focus was nutrition. Maybe it was something in her diet.”

Researching led to the creation of a database that calculated nutritional components, allowing the food industry to be more transparent and accurate in its labels. Today, her software is being used by Fortune 500 companies to individuals in more than 40 countries.

Betty has since sold her company and is enjoying her golden years at a retirement community.

Erika Thiede, one of ESHA’s users, is a registered dietician who works with her patients virtually. She shares menus and plans with them that are created through the software.

“As a dietician, professional and a consumer, it’s [a] software program that is absolutely so helpful,” Thiede said.

While labels and diets could be intimidating, Thiede says the information is necessary for her patients with eating disorders and clients going through fertility treatments.

“Knowledge is power, and knowing what you’re putting into your body should feel empowering versus restricting,” she said.

Back with Geltz, she says she wasn’t able to cure her mom.

“The work was worthy because we had no idea that the work I had done in putting the nutrient data was so valuable for others,” she said.

Enjoying her retirement, Geltz hopes her story will inspire more people to be curious about what they eat because it makes a difference.