How Women on Social Media Led a Nutrition and Fitness Revolution in Saudi Arabia

RAZAZ AINOUSAH: Five years ago, preschool teacher Nawal AlKalawi decided for the first time to create an Instagram account—she wanted to post a simple recipe for homemade banana muffins. A few hours later, that first post had more likes and comments than she could ever imagine.

From that moment on, Nawal’s private and public lives began to mesh. A new mother at the time, she continued to post tips, ideas and daily routines to help parents feed both infants and children. Before long, her “Food Evaluation” account had more than 16,000 followers, and she was also active on Snapchat and other platforms. Her efforts were changing the habits of whole families. Clearly, parents in Saudi Arabia were hungry for health information.

But Nawal’s journey to becoming a chef and social media star in Saudi Arabia began, she said, much earlier in her life, with a childhood showdown with her mother about broccoli. Without even tasting it, Nawal and her sister were convinced that it was the most horrible food in the world, and they would often throw it out the window. “Soon, the gardener found piles and piles of broccoli rotting in the flowerbeds,” she said. But her mother didn’t give up. “With a little magic trick known as Hollandaise sauce, I discovered that broccoli was not so bad after all.” More…