Nadia Aboutaleb is a firm believer that the key to happiness is balancing a lifestyle of good nutrition, daily physical activity, and a positive outlook on life. She is a certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and a Culinary Nutritional Expert from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Nadia is the founder of Be Good To You, a health food restaurant in Egypt. She is a mother of two and holds a BA in mass communication from AUC and an MBA from Regents University in London. In this interview, Nadia talks about her journey of acceptance.
What inspired Be Good To You?
About 5 and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, which is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its thyroid. When I traveled abroad to get checked, the doctors told me that I’m going to be put on medications for the rest of my life and that I have to learn how to live with the symptoms because Graves’ was here to stay. The medication side effects took a heavy toll on me and I decided that “this cannot be life”; I refused to live like that. I started reading, studying, and experimenting on myself using what I’d learned. I swapped my prescribed meds for functional medicine supplements and found that I was feeling better and my lab results were improving. It wasn’t long before I concluded that it all lies in the lifestyle. This spiked both my interest and my passion, so I studied and became an IIN certified health coach.
What was the Be Good To You journey like?
As a health coach, I’d often get patients who needed to go on dietary restrictions due to their health conditions, like gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diets. I realized that there were no places in Egypt that cater to their –and my- needs and felt the urge to widen my scope and expand to reach a bigger number of people. From there, I got the idea of providing a space that offers quality, healthy foods that cater to everyone’s dietary needs. I started planning for this project 4 and a half years ago and opened the very first branch in Katameya Heights Compound a year later. Last year, we opened a second branch in Sheikh Zayed and then a third one in Sahel, but unfortunately had to close up the Zayed one due to the COVID economic crisis. Our most recent branch is in Sahel as well, and we just opened it a few days ago, making them 3 branches in total.
Was it challenging? In what ways?
Finding the right ingredients and their corresponding suppliers was quite challenging, given that most of the ingredients we use are not readily available in Egypt. This step actually took an entire year. Finding the clients and setting the market was not easy as well. I knew that a project like this can only succeed in a community where it’s needed or where the members are educated enough to understand its true value; the project targets a niche market and may not be readily understood by everyone. Thankfully, it all came along 3 and a half years ago and I can’t be more grateful.
Any plans for the upcoming period?
We opened our newest branch in Sahel a few days ago, so there’s that. We’re also working on a COVID- inspired frozen line to be distributed in supermarkets around the country. Keep an eye out for the Vegan Burger and the gluten-free chicken strips and pane. Finally, we’re spending time on our health retreats. We had our very first retreat in September of 2019 and then another one in June, so we’re going to be focusing on our health retreats this coming period. Definitely wait for those!