Melissa Antal, MPH/MBA
CEO & Co-Founder, Foublie
FoodASC Member since 2019
Please tell us about yourself and why you are interested in food allergies, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and EoE.
Hello, Melissa Antal here! I’m interested in food allergies, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and EoE because I love food, and my passion is child nutrition. To me that means everything to do with the food we eat as families, including how we feed and nourish our bodies.
I live in Washington DC. For the first 10 years of my career I worked overseas managing public health nutrition programs in far away places like Cambodia and Zimbabwe. I loved my job because I got to talk to moms to see how they feed their kids and understand why they do what they do. About 5 years ago I fell in love with a lawyer, and my jet setting lifestyle was grounded. I went back to business school part time to figure out what I wanted to do now that I was a ‘grown up’ and realized I could do what I loved but here at home.
And that is really why I’m here introducing myself to you now. What started as a class project to explore how parents feed their children and approach nutrition revealed a big problem. Feeding your baby and children can be overwhelming and at times scary, especially for families learning to manage a new food allergy, gluten sensitivities, celiac disease and/or EOE. I started a company to help families feel confident and empowered to feed their kids.
Please tell us about your business.
Foublie was cooked up in the fall of 2018 by me and Dr. Maria Rivera.
Maria is a mom and a pediatrician. We joined forces because she was fielding tons of questions from her friends and patients about feeding kids and didn’t have a trusted resource. She wanted to build one.
For me, I knew helpful and creative resources existed for the parents in my programs abroad. Why couldn’t we build something like that here? So that’s what we did.
Foublie is a one-stop resource. On the App you can find resources developed by nutrition experts and you can connect with these nutrition experts through video appointments or coaching plans. All of our Foublie coaches are registered dietitians that have been trained to be Foublie Coaches. Many are food allergy moms or are managing celiac disease and gluten sensitivities in their families. It’s pretty cool to connect to someone that gets it personally and professionally.
Our foundational program is “Learning to Eat” and is for families with kids 0-5 years old. It’s free, so check it out! Each month we send you a bundle with information, tips, tools and tricks through the Foublie App. For example, at 4 months we assess if your baby is at risk for a food allergy and give you tips to discuss with your pediatrician. We look at readiness cues for solids and give you some tricks to play with your baby to practice and develop those skills. Each month has a bit of nutrition science, child development and behavioral science baked in.
The name Foublie is made up. It was inspired by a book my mom read to me when I was little called FOO. A foo kiss is a kind of kiss you can send to someone who isn’t with you. In the story the little girl sends a goodnight kiss to her mom and the kiss travels through NYC to find her at her ballet class. We love that it’s playful but not kiddish.
Describe a challenging experience you had related to food allergies, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or EoE, and your lessons learned.
We’ve spoken to over 200 parents about their experience managing a new food allergy. We learned three big things.
- First there is a lot of information out there. Mom groups on Facebook are super popular, but there is a lot of misinformation (and sadly many bullies!). Parents double and triple check everything.
- We also learned that if you do want to access a registered dietitian it is overwhelming. Between actually getting there in person to the information dump that happens in 1 hour, it’s just not a good experience.
- Third, parents with kids with food allergies and celiac disease are isolated. Even though there are so many kids out there living with food allergies and celiac, it’s rare that a friend is going through the same thing at the same time.
Foublie is trying to help families with the information and experts. There are so many wonderful companies and people working to help food allergic families live easier. Communities like Food ASC are important to find friendship and support. Parents feel a duty to help others, it’s pretty incredible!
Describe a rewarding experience you had related to food allergies, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or EoE.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Around the world, one thing that every person has in common is food. We all eat.
What motivates me? I think nutrition professionals do a really good job at making nutrition complicated, and it doesn’t need to be. I think Foublie has a role to play in making it easier for parents and that’s pretty motivating. I also love our registered dietitian coaches.
I want every family to work with one! If I can help bring them more business then that is a good day.
Do you have a go-to resource? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
I actually use Foublie quite a bit! We have a series of blogs where our Foublie Coaches share how they feed their own family. There’s lots of good, practical advice there including how experts get their kids to eat new foods to how they plan meals when they have a million things going on.
What do you wish other people knew about food allergies, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or EoE and what’s one action that can be performed to increase knowledge and awareness in the general population?
I wish the nutrition community didn’t make nutrition so complicated. Every family can eat food that tastes great and balanced when managing food restrictions. This week try to eat one vegetable or fruit that is every color of the rainbow.
Can you do it?
What advice would you give to someone just embarking upon this journey?
You can do this!
You are not alone. If you open the fridge and think ‘what do I do now’ Foublie is here for you.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Coming to the FARE Summit? Foublie will have an exhibitor booth and Maria and I are giving a talk with one of our Foublie Coaches called “Unpacking nutrition: What to eat and how to feed your family”.
Come say hi!
Thank you Melissa for being part of our Member Spotlight! Have any more questions for Melissa? Ask them in the comments below.
Member Spotlight is our column in which we interview FoodASC members to highlight their businesses, publications and personal experiences. If you are interested in being featured or nominating another member for the spotlight, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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