Margarita Restrepo, Health and Nutrition expert, editor-in-chief of Naked Food Magazine, truly walks the talk.
Now available in more than a thousand stores in the United States and Canada, and influencing hundreds of thousands of readers each year, Margarita founded Naked Food Magazine as part of a public movement inspired by a very personal tragedy
Naked Food is a worldwide initiative that proposes the switch from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to the New Authentic, Kind and Enlightened Diet (NAKED). It is a beautiful and entertaining science-based publication that supports the low fat, whole food, plant-based nutrition approach to prevent and reverse common chronic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer.
What was your inspiration for founding it?
The magazine was founded a year after I lost my boyfriend to a Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rare type of brain cancer. The experience taught me plenty, both good and bad. On the bad side, I learned that our current system is quite a tangled web.
The health care system depends on doctors to prescribe drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies train doctors to prescribe drugs to both the sick and the healthy. Doctors are not trained in nutrition so they don’t teach us prevention through diet.
I used to eat what I thought was the best diet, though closer to the western diet, but I had health issues. Every time I would ask a doctor what I could do to help or reverse my conditions, they would tell me to “Do everything in moderation.” After I was diagnosed with cysts in my breasts and the doctor gave me that line, I smiled and said, “If I get cancer, will it be moderate too?” He didn’t know what to say. I guess I was smiling because at that point I already knew about the power of plants, and I was starting my journey to health, so regardless of what he could have said, I already had the answer.
On the good side, I learned that food has everything to do with our health and our perspective about pretty much everything. I say everything because once we know where our food comes and how it is made or grown, we have the choice to become sustainable, kind, and even a bit enlightened.
I also learned that the human spirit is the biggest treasure we have. My boyfriend wanted to change the world while his body kept giving up. That changed my life. I promised I would do my best to create the same life change he inspired in me.
In terms of creating a non-toxic life, how do you walk the talk?
I am proud to lead my own NAKED movement. People tend to raise their eyebrows when I say that naked relates to food—I am always clothed, in case someone is wondering.
The basics are always organic, local, whole, and plant-based. I also buy organic and plant-based beauty products. I can eat out, but I would rather eat food that I make at home. I’m also very conscious about the things that I bring to my house, and I recycle and reuse everything I possibly can. I feed my dog a plant-based diet as well, and she is thriving.
I live the life that I want to live because I believe in its greatness: one that doesn’t harm others, one that heals, one that breaths respect and power, and one that is pure and in harmony with nature.
What’s the most challenging part?
Eating well while traveling can definitely be challenging, so I try to stock up on fruit and nuts most of the time. They are great snacks. I tend to eat a lot, but I don’t like small meals, so when traveling I also choose basic pasta dishes like tomato-basil. I also choose sides a lot: beans, potatoes, rice, salads, or grilled vegetables. Three or four of these make a meal for me.
The holidays are coming, how do you stay healthy?
The holidays are great but there is definitely a lot I wouldn’t want to eat. It’s a good idea not to leave the house starving. I make a smoothie, or grab a quick snack an hour before or while I get ready. I also like preparing my own dishes, desserts, and snacks, and I usually bring one wherever I go. If there aren’t many things for me to eat, I just eat what I brought! I stay away from unhealthy foods and compensate during the other meals of the day to get my healthy balance back.
Can you share your favorite quick nutritional pick-me-up?
Fruit is usually my go-to snack. I don’t think I could live without bananas! Even when I don’t have access to organic produce, fruit it is always my first go-to choice. If I am at home or in a place where smoothies are available, that’s my next best thing. Last but not least, I love legumes. When available, I choose peas, beans, or chickpeas and eat them with a bit of quinoa or rice. Lentil soup is probably my most favorite and fabulous pick-me-up.
What’s your favorite eco-destination?
It warms my heart to be among nature so it’s hard to narrow it down to one. There is nothing like being a part of nature and letting it be, so my favorite eco-destinations would be the ones that human hands have not conquered. The Lost City in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada is an example of it, and is absolutely gorgeous. I also enjoy the mountains as much as I enjoy the sea.
I love plants and animals and am mesmerized by seeing how they work, how they react, how they eat, and how they grow. I remember doing that since I was little. I am a very sensitive person, and I cry easily. These things make me feel closer to the true essence of life, what really matters, and the reason we are all here. Nature is perfection.
I travel often, so I try to build my own little eco-home around me. I gather discarded pallets or produce baskets and I use them in the kitchen for storage or as home decor. They actually look fabulous. I also plant my own herbs and some veggies, even if I am in a place for only a few months. I believe we can all make our own little sustainable world around us. For me, it’s a joy to do it.
Best eco tip you ever received and from whom?
I’m not sure if it falls under ecological, but one of the best things I’ve learned has come from kindred spirit and sustainability expert, Michele Lastella. He says that aiming to achieve sustainability as we know it is not possible if we are not sustainable humans ourselves. Being a sustainable human is a choice and starts from within: from the love and kindness we spread around us, the way we treat others, and the small things we do to be better.
The point is that we will not be able to aid the planet and whatever threatens the species, the air, the oceans, the water sources, or the soil if we do not start with protecting and changing ourselves, and the space that surrounds us. Very wise and very true.
What’s your best advice for pioneer-startups?
The best advice I can give is to be true to what you love, and love what you do. Starting something is not what’s difficult. The challenge is to keep it going and keep it true to what you envision for it. Planting seeds is easy, but we must care for them to see them grow.
I believe one of the most difficult areas of any start up is usually the start-up capital. Many people have great ideas, but from idea to execution there is a lot of work to do. The thing is, don’t get scared by that– whether you have capital or not. Just go for it and find a way to make it work. Asking for help won’t make you less of a human being… it will actually make you more human. I believe that everything we learn and go through is part of this big adventure, and trust me you will come out wiser, regardless of the outcome.
If the goal of your start-up is just the best way you can think of to make you “get rich quick”, good luck with it. You may or may not achieve financial success, but you will quit the minute it doesn’t work out anymore. What do you have to lose? The years of life you wasted doing something you didn’t want to do in the first place. If the goal of your start-up will simply make you the happiest person in the world because you know it will make a difference in people’s lives, bingo, you have a winner. I assure you, you will have the success you deserve.
Where do you see yourself and Naked Food Magazine in 10 years?
Good question. I don’t know where exactly we will be, though I hope Naked Food sees many glories on its way to greatness! We must make sure this magazine is seen in every corner of the world, so many languages and versions are definitely part of the future plans. I also want to make it a bi-monthly publication with worldwide distribution. Naked Food will be starting many initiatives, most of which I can’t reveal yet, but you will definitely know them all when the time comes.
As for me, I’m sure I’ll be striving to keep up with everything I’m trying to accomplish. No matter what I do, I know it is all in the hands of the universe, so, I’m sure I will be just fine.