Eating Organic & Feeling Sexy | Meet Sakara Founders Whitney Tingle & Danielle Duboise

Author: Angela Fernandez

Dynamic duo Whitney Tingle and Danielle Duboise of Sakara, an organic nutrition program, grew up in Arizona surrounded by healthy eating and holistic wellness. As two young adults in one of the busiest cities in the world - New York City - they wanted to share their knowledge with those around them. The pair decided to start Sakara not only to make you look your best thanks to a plant-based, gluten-free program, but to feel your best as well.

The ladies and their team live, breathe and embody the Sakara lifestyle, which has since expanded across the nation with clients as notable as Victoria's Secret models and top artists. There's no doubt Sakara has come a long way from day one, and they show no signs of stopping any time soon.

From a model/actress and woman on Wall Street, to a holistic health coach and yoga instructor. What inspired the transition?
W: My career on Wall Street was a fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily promote healthy eating. I ended up gaining 15lbs, had cystic acne all over my face, and felt awful in my body and in my life. I had tried everything from Accutane to acupuncture to try to cure my acne, and when I was told that the only solution was another round of Accutane or a mega-dose of antibiotics (that kills both good and bad bacteria in my body), I decided to take my health into my own hands and went on a search to find the root cause of my acne instead of just treating the symptoms.

D: I studied biochemistry in undergrad and went on to become a certified holistic nutritionist. I struggled with body image issues from a young age. I had a terrible relationship with food and was constantly counting calories, points, pounds and carbs, all in an effort to find the diet that would give me the results I was looking for - a smaller body. One extreme diet would lead to the next until finally, I had lost all sense of balance. I hit rock bottom after a 21-day water fast and that was the moment I finally decided to end my battle with food. It was in nutrition school that I re-learned that food is nourishment. Sakara was born out of that struggle.

What challenges did you face during this transition and how did you overcome them?
We decided early on that we couldn’t just create a blog or a cookbook…we needed to deliver actual food (the real medicine!) straight to people’s doors. That decision - to work with organic, local, fresh food - came with real challenges and lessons (like kale + salt in a closed container = a salt bomb the next day that coworkers do not appreciate). But through lots of trial and error, and with the help of an amazing team, we’ve been able to come a long way from cooking meals ourselves and delivering them to clients’ apartments on our bicycles.

What does the name "Sakara" mean?
Sakara is a Sanskrit word that means "with form" or the manifestation of thoughts into things. This is really the embodiment of our philosophy of "what you think, you create."

What has been the most rewarding thing about starting Sakara?
Sakara didn’t start out as a business - it began as a solution to our own problems and needs. It really changed our lives and once we experienced that ourselves, we knew we had to help as many people as possible look, feel and live better through the power of food as medicine. We still get emails every day about how this program has transformed our clients’ lives, and seeing the impact it has had on thousands of people is the most rewarding thing in the world.

What do you wish more people understood about healthy eating?
Wow, so much! If we had to choose one - the importance of eating your daily greens! It’s the number one thing you can do to improve your health. In the Sakara program, you eat 4-8 cups of greens per day, and that floods your body with the hydration, fiber, phytonutrients, sulfur, and protein your body needs to stay balanced. We're also obsessed with the microbiome (the trillions of bacteria living on and in your body, particularly in the gut, that can weigh up to 6 lbs). The gut microbiome controls everything - your immunity, your mood, your weight, your skin and your risk of disease - and it’s directly affected by diet and lifestyle. Know what your microbiome loves? GREENS!

Aside from creating balanced meal plans, you put a lot of emphasis on the quality of ingredients. Why is that so important and where do you source your ingredients?
Traditionally grown produce comes from mineral-depleted soil and is coated with chemicals and pesticides that have been shown to cause disease and disrupt hormones. We only source from trusted organic farms and suppliers (and local farms whenever possible) that we know are using practices that maintain the nutritional value of what mama earth created. We also focus on seasonal ingredients for peak flavor and nutrition, plus superfoods, herbs, and even oils from around the world that are not altered during harvesting or shipping.

“Sakara didn’t start out as a business - it began as a solution to our own problems and needs."

Tell us about the process behind creating dishes and meal plans for the Sakara menu...
It's definitely a co-creation between the best of the best! We have an expert kitchen team that collaborates with classically trained chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants to create our meals. Recently, we’ve been working with Matthew Kenney and his team. He’s an incredible plant-based chef in LA. Most importantly, every meal we make is designed around our Pillars of Nutrition, which means they include plenty of colorful organic produce, nutrient-dense superfoods, leafy greens, plant-based protein and healthy fats. These pillars are the backbone of Sakara, and we created them with the help of doctors, scientists and experts in integrative medicine and traditional healing. They guide every meal and product we create.

In each plan, you include a detox tea. Why is it important to detox, and how often should one do it?
The Sakara nutrition program is naturally detoxifying because it excludes common allergens like gluten, meat and dairy - as well as refined sugar and processed foods - while flooding the body with essential plant-based nutrients. We believe in eating this way as often as possible because you are what you do the majority of the time! Sakara Life is a lifestyle, which means this way of clean eating is your baseline, with the occasional cookie or glass of wine thrown in there for soul-nourishment.

Sakara Detox Tea is an important part of the program. Cients drink 2 cups of it a day, and each satchet contains organic medicinal herbs like red rooibos and lemongrass that help lower inflammation, fight free radical damage and support digestion and liver cleansing. It's the perfect supplement to a whole food, plant-rich diet.

Tell us about the results you've seen in clients who have tried Sakara's meal plans...
This is the best part. Our clients report weight loss, increased energy, less brain fog and improved focus, more balanced moods, less bloat, better sleep, a stronger mind-body connection, fewer unhealthy cravings and even a higher libido! We’ve had clients with fertility issues use Sakara to help them get pregnant, and others who have seen their autoimmune disease symptoms decrease while on the program. We've also had clients whose relationship to food is repaired, who feel like they are able to give themselves permission to slow down, enjoy their food, and savor each moment of their day; who finally know what it feels like to love living in their body.

Currently, Sakara delivers exclusively within the US. Do you have any plans to expand? Where do you hope to see Sakara in the next 5 years?
We started out delivering meals to clients in NYC on our bikes, so expanding to the West Coast and then nationwide was huge for us! As soon as we figure out how to ship fresh food internationally - look out, world! Our mission is to get Sakara into as many bodies as possible, and that fuels us to keep expanding and growing.

We also have some amazing new products coming to our Clean Boutique this year, which helps our clients live the Sakara Life no matter where they are. Stay tuned!

What are some foods that you always keep in your kitchen?
Our fridges are stocked with Sakara breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, which is such a blessing! On top of that, you will always find organic greens and seasonal veggies, turmeric, ghee, Sakara Beauty and Night Waters, fresh ginger, unrefined coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds and super high-quality dark chocolates.

Photos by: Paulsta Wong