Mother of two, Abigail Wald, created the YES Bar after her son’s health challenges forced her to say “no” to just about everything he wanted to eat. Through time, experimentation, and lots of love, Abigail created the YES Bar, a gourmet, gluten-free snack bar that’s not only a treat but a tasty reminder to celebrate the little victories in life.
When I came across her Yahoo Makers interview a few weeks back, I was moved to tears. I understood her story so well because I had lived it. Only it wasn’t my children facing the challenge (I don’t have children), it was me. I was the one nobody took seriously about food sensitivities.
When I praised Abigail for her strong spirit and dedication to her children, I asked her if she would be interested in doing an interview for my little blog. I honestly didn’t think she’d have time to respond, but I’m so glad she did.
Below is my interview with the mom who, in making her child’s health her number one priority, started a business that has the potential to have a positive impact on millions.
What type of food sensitivities and health challenges does your son live with?
“My son had terrible reflux for many years. He also used to be fussy depending on what he ate as a baby. Gluten and dairy were the worst offenders for him. After he had an encephalitic reaction to a routine vaccination, we were terrified by his severe fogginess and loss of affect. Now, years later, he is fully recovered, and these days he eats most anything, but we are heavily influenced by all the years we were so strict, so our “anything” is still really healthy and veggie heavy/grain lite.”
Which came first, the desire to give your son a treat he could actually eat or the idea to heal him nutritionally?
”Definitely to heal him. We were beside ourselves with fear when he had his scary reaction to the shot. When we saw the effects that our dairy/corn/soy/gluten-free diet that was also low in sugar had on his health, we were determined to do it for as long as it took to heal. The desire to make a treat for him came out of the hardship of this quite ascetic life we were leading, but also out of the joy of the healing and freedom it had afforded us.”
How do you explain food sensitivities to skeptics?
“It is not something you would ever choose. Beliiiiiiieve me. It is lonely, challenging, and just plain hard. BUT, if you find that it really changes you, nothing will stop you from doing what it takes to heal.”
Was there ever a time when your child’s food sensitivities were not taken seriously, and it was a detriment to his health?
“No, because I took them seriously. And since he was so young that was all that really needed to happen.”
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How are YES Bars different than other gluten-free snack bars on the market?
”We are not just gluten free. We are CLEAN, and yummy, and we have a gourmet flavor profile of only the finest ingredients. We are one sophisticated little happy treat!”
Those with chronic illness struggle with chronic inflammation. I notice your bars have natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in them such as cayenne pepper. Was that planned?
”Absolutely! Each ingredient is in there only because it is healthy AND delicious! Anti-inflammatory was our main goal at the time for ALL of our diets, so these bars were made with that consideration in mind, 100 percent.”
When did these homemade bars officially become a business?
Describe a comment or compliment you’ve received about your bars that made you know you were making not just a snack food but a difference.
“I constantly get letters from people letting us know just how much our bars mean to them. Because really, we are not just a gluten-free snack bar. We are a reminder that even though life may be filled with a bunch of NOs, it is still so important to find those celebratory YESes!”
What is the best advice you can offer parents who have children with food sensitivities?
”Trust yourself. If you think it is real, say YES to it. You can do this, and it is worth it!”
When you’re not up to your elbows in honey, chocolate, and nuts, what do you do for fun and relaxation?
“Ha ha. Relaxation. I have two young sons and a growing business. You MUST be kidding. I try to enjoy the ride because it doesn’t look like it is slowing down anytime soon….”