Agatha Achindu, providing healthy options for healthy living
Agatha Achindu is a wellness entrepreneur, speaker, and educator who specializes in helping families thrive, by transforming the way they live and feed their children. As the founder of Yummy Spoonfuls, a line of fresh-frozen organic food for kids, she’s on an unrelenting mission to make healthy food convenient and accessible for busy parents and families. A Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach and yoga instructor, she extends her mission further by offering a brand perspective that amplifies her message of whole living for modern times.
For Agatha, eating healthy and nutritious food has never been a trend, but instead, a way of life. Growing up on her parent’s organic farm in Cameroon, West Africa, the kitchen was the hub of activity for their family. Meals were made from scratch with fresh ingredients grown from the earth and this approach would become the foundation of her life’s work as a wife, mom, food activist, and businesswoman.
A former IT executive at a Fortune 500 company, Agatha left corporate America and launched Yummy Spoonfuls in 2006. Her goal was to give parents a way to feed their children healthy foods in a convenient way that matched their busy lifestyles. For her efforts and expertise, she has become a voice of authority in her field. Agatha is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, and has appeared in notable media outlets such as the Today Show, CNN, CBS, Forbes, Fortune, and People Magazine.
As a highly sought after and international speaker, Agatha is known for delivering passionate talks on a variety of topics, including organic food and farming, children’s health and nutrition, business development, marketing, supply chain, and more. She has served as a guest lecturer at colleges and universities both stateside and abroad, and has spoken at high profile events such as SXSW, the W.E.L.L. Summit, BlogHer, AmericaPack Summit, BroccoliCon, and the HOPE Global Forum. She is also a dedicated champion for women in business and seeks to empower them with practical strategies to pursue their dreams without sacrificing their well-being.
Agatha’s platform represents what it means to live a whole, full, and vibrant life that nourishes the mind, body, and soul. Her burgeoning wellness empire offers something for everyone – from the curious toddler to the wisest elder – and she won’t rest until they all have what they need to live and be well.
In the beginning
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in Cameroon. My childhood memories are filled with running through the fields, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Endless hours in the kitchen cooking with my mother and aunties. The amazing aroma from the kitchen, everything was prepared from scratch by our mother, taking food to neighbors in both times of need and times of celebration. These memories have informed my entire life, my love for healthy eating, and in being of service to my community.
Helping families thrive through healthy living
I have spent the last 25 years of my life helping families thrive by transforming the way they live and feed their children. My approach is simple. It is about helping families incorporate little changes in their everyday lives that will work for everyone. For changes to work in a home, it has to be inclusive. It will be sustainable only if the whole family takes part in it. Having a child or parent with weight issues for example, changes implemented will be for the whole family, not single one out. Everyone can benefit from a better way of living and eating.
Yummy Spoonfuls is an organic kid’s food company that I founded in 2006 from share frustration. In America, more often than not, it seemed like there were two sets of parents: those who have the money to have a private chef make foods at home for their children; and those who have the time to make their own food. However, there were parents like me managing two to three jobs but with not enough money to hire a private chef or time to make food at home. Back story: for years, I used to offer free workshops teaching parents how to make food at home for their children; it was actually how Yummy Spoonfuls was created years later.
I fundamentally believe no parent should have to feel guilty because they don’t have the money or the time to make homemade food from scratch for their children, and that no child should have to eat less nutritious food because their parents have to work two to three jobs. So much of children’s health in the first two years depends on the food they eat.
It was so important to me to make food from scratch using fresh organic ingredients like parents would at home if they had the time; food made using ingredients you can easily find in your home kitchens; food made without the use of preservatives, additives or fillers so parents don’t have to choose between going to work or to stay home and cook.
Yummy Spoonfuls is actually transforming both the lives of children and their parents. Full circle today with the Covid-19 coronavirus situation, we are all asked to rely on our immune system. This gives me so much pride knowing that for over 15 years, we have been working relentlessly making foods that put the health of our children first. Parents tell us we make nutritious foods taste so good their kids don’t even know they are eating healthy. Parents across the country are grateful to be able to offer their children the same high quality food like they would make at home if they had the chance.
I am going to be 53 years in a few months and I get asked this question all the time. For me, it starts with having a grateful heart. Do unto others what you want done onto you. I am purposeful about seeking joy, and I take my health seriously by eating 80% of the time foods that nourishes my body. I don’t drink sodas or any sugary drinks, I love exercising, and I love God. I am kind and patient with me and never judge myself too harshly. All the above things radiate an outward glow that people see and I will forever be grateful to God for the gift of my life just the way it is.
Dealing with Covid-19 and its effect on your business
As a small business owner and someone who also makes income from speaking engagements it was horrific to see everything come to a standstill. My goodness! We continue to lose money. However, being human, I can’t help but think the many lessons we are all learning from this experience. My advice is that we all should really start paying more attention to the power of nutrition as medicine and get away from the treatment mindset and into prevention. The food we eat is critical to our overall health especially that of our children. Here we are faced with a highly contagious virus that we don’t have a cure for; needless to say that those with healthier immune systems are less at risk. Think about this for a minute!
Benefits of staying healthy especially in recent times
The COVID-19 coronavirus situation has really brought this issue full circle. To think that now, the world is faced with a ferocious virus that has no vaccine nor cure yet, and we are asked to rely on our immune system to protect us. Those with a compromised immune system and preexisting conditions are more susceptible. Here is the truth; a healthy lifestyle has both short-term and long-term health benefits. Long-term, eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can add years to your life and reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity. In the short-term it can also make you feel and look your best, give you more energy and help you maintain a healthy weight.
When you sleep well and make informed eating choices, your body and brain function at their highest capacity. By making smart decisions, you can make the most out of your day-to-day life and reap the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.
Homemade recipes this season
So grateful that we haven’t really adjusted too much because of the way we typically eat at our home. The one thing that I had to stop was the occasional ice cream treat for the kiddo; no ice cream until after the pandemic is over. Sugar is a huge immune suppressant. Here is what I however tell my clients: be fully present during this time; take stock of the foods you are feeding your family; and ask some simple questions each time. Is this food providing the nutrients my family needs? Is this food going to breathe health or disease?
Africans and meal choices
With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that we grow, we shouldn’t have an issue of eating healthy. The problem I see in Africa is that more people are trying very hard to emulate the western diet and move away from ancient traditional foods that are more wholesome. We were in Abuja during Christmas 2019, and was shocked out of my mind (just to put it nicely) seeing the foods that were ‘trending’. So much junk foods, so many refined oils and flour. The solution is easy: your swallow (fufu) or chews (plantains, potato/yams/cassava/cocoyams etc.) should never be bigger than your vegetable soup, and your meat should never be more than your swallow or chew. Avoid sugary drinks; they are closely tied to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
As a certified integrative nutrition coach, how are you passing your message of healthy living across?
Creating awareness around the importance of being fully present continues to be a simple tool I have been sharing on social media and on all speaking engagements. The simplicity of the approach belies the power that lies in this simple act. I have seen this transform the lives of many because when we are fully present, we start taking notice; we are no longer a product of habits. From the food we eat to the relationships we keep, you easily notice that which are not aligned with current needs and adjust accordingly.
A truth I have been sharing lately is that there is no one diet that fits all; we are all bio-individual. What works for your best friend might not work for you, not because you are not trying hard enough but simply because we are all living and breathing organisms that are uniquely different all the way down to our cells. Remember the popular adage ‘one man’s food is another man’s poison’. Social media is saturated with all kinds of quick fixes to lose weight, to get flat tummy and so on. Here is the truth: there is no magic bullet when it comes to wellness. Dieting doesn’t work because it simply isn’t sustainable. Period! This is the reason people lose weight, then gain it all back, and then lose it again. The weight-loss industry is worth $189.9 billion globally (market research).
What I see the most is the desire for shortcuts. When people want to lose weight, they want it to happen right at this very moment. When they want to teach their kids to eat healthy, they want it at this very moment. A couple of things that I want people to know is that wellness takes time, it takes patience and you giving yourself grace. Also, wellness is not just about the food you eat. You can eat broccoli and drink kale juices all day but still will be fighting with weight issues. Your finances, relationships, work life, spiritual life, exercise are all things that affect how you feel, and yes, your weight. My advice, eat the right foods 80% of the time and eat the not so good foods 20% of the time consistently. Don’t eat crazy all the time and then try to do a month’s cleanse or diet.
Surmounting the challenges
As a fulltime working mama who is constantly on the go, my life is a balancing act of the many hats I wear daily. What has worked for me is always taking mindful pauses to remind myself I have a right to live my life to its fullest potential and don’t let mother-guilt cheat me of that. I give myself grace for all the amazing things that happen to my kids in my absence and celebrate to the fullest the ones I am present for. Life is a give and take.
Testaments by clients
Oh there are many but what blesses my heart the most is when I finally get clients to believe 100% that what they put in their body matters; to believe regardless of what genes they inherited, that they are not doomed; that with the right nutrition and care their body can totally heal. Getting a testimonial and hearing that surprised voice screaming “Thank you for changing my life”. To which I respond “No, thank you for doing the work and believing in you. I was here to guide only, you did all the work”.
Never to be forgotten
My wedding day. Our 18th wedding anniversary is right around the corner. My hubby and I have known each other since we were nine years old. I couldn’t contain myself, marrying my best friend, that day will forever be my very best day. I love him to the moon and back; grateful for the gift of motherhood he made possible. This year we will both turn 53 yrs. I am forever grateful to God for the gift of my Georges.
Eating junk food on a regular basis is not good for us especially the children. It can lead to an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, some cancers, depression in teenagers, chronic fatigue, and digestion issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and so on. Be intentional about small changes, success is the sum of small efforts done habitually. Small steps eventually lead to big change. Our daily choices do matter, please choose wisely.