Belly Boss

by Pauline Nash

“Drink plenty of milk,” is one of several pillars of nutritional wisdom my grandma imparts at the end of our phone conversations now that she knows that because of me she’ll have another great-grandchild to boast about to her friends. Her counsel is among other advice I have voluntarily sought. For the past seven months I have poured through books, magazines, and websites seeking validation of my dietary habits. And I have invariably concluded each research session with the same resolve: to head directly to the health food section of my local grocer and fill my cart with tofu, non-fat yogurt, and as many fruits and veggies as I can carry.

In practice, however, I have discovered that making healthy meals at regular intervals can be difficult. I needed a wholesome convenience food for when I am suddenly famished. I especially needed someone to keep an eye on my food intake during my demanding daily schedule. I needed a supervisor for my belly—a “belly boss.”

Leslie Sagalowicz ’94 is a self-proclaimed belly boss who, with co-belly boss, Meredith Lincoln, set out to develop a delicious, healthy, and convenient alternative to the prenatal vitamin supplement.

The two women met while attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Sagalowicz, who began her MBA with the goal to become an entrepreneur, said she is lucky to have found a friend and business partner like Lincoln. Their mutual interest in good food and well-being made them receptive to their friends’ complaints about the lack of alternatives to the prenatal vitamin that some find difficult to take because of its size or the digestive discomfort the pill can cause.

Toward the end of 2004, Sagalowicz and Lincoln founded their company, NutraBella. And, after exhaustive research, the two women created Bellybars, a nutrition bar for pregnant and nursing women. Bellybars hit the national market at the end of October 2005, and Sagalowicz says, “It’s been non-stop since!”

For Sagalowicz, every day brings something new, from press calls to new accounts—”That’s what makes this so fun and exciting.” The bars are sold at numerous retail and maternity boutiques including Motherhood Maternity, select Whole Foods Markets, and select H-E-B grocery stores and have been featured in FitPregnancy, Fitness Magazine, BabyCenter Magazine, and Essence.

Because of my research, I knew if I ate the Bellybars and took my prescribed prenatal I was doubling my intake of many nutrients. And more isn’t always better. Sitting down with my obstetrician, we reviewed the nutrient content of both the vitamin and nutrition bar. After confirming that both contained a beta-carotene source of Vitamin A, which is water soluble and does not pose the risk during pregnancy that over-consumption of fat-soluble Vitamin A does, my doctor gave his approval for me to devour the Bellybars and continue taking my prenatal.

During pregnancy, it is critical to incorporate wholesome food choices into a daily regime. Expectant moms can snack guilt-free on a Bellybar knowing that it is a protein-packed snack that includes vital nutrients recommended by doctors, midwives, and nutrition experts. Sagalowicz’s business has come to occupy a niche that many busy women depend on.