Irecently had the pleasure to attend the Kroger’s Wellness Your Way Festival (WYWF) and I had the opportunity of interviewing Debbie Matenopoulos. Debbie is a four-time Emmy® nominee who has successfully sustained her career as a compelling journalist, talk show host, food and lifestyle expert, and bestselling cookbook author. She is currently the Co-Host of Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family and a Special Television Host Correspondent for Entertainment Tonight on CBS.
Thank you so much for joining us Debbie. This festival is about “Wellness Your Way”. What does the term “Wellness Your Way” mean to you?
Ohmy gosh it means so much! It’s about taking your health into your own hands. Literally, wellness your way. It’s also about accessibility, making it easier for everyone to be healthy. I think there was a time when in order to have a healthier lifestyle you had to spend a lot of money. It was very dividing because people would say, yes sure I want to eat organic but how can I do that when this piece of fish costs thirty dollars a pound and this piece of fish costs five bucks? I have a family of four. I afford that. Kroger is diminishing the divide so that everyone can have access to healthy products and define wellness for themselves.
Was there a story that inspired you to get involved with WYWF?
When I heard about Kroger’s mission to to change the way America eats I was in. They’re offering options that are just as healthy at an accessible price point so that everyone can have access to products that only the people that were able to shop at Whole Foods or Erewhon had once once upon a time. Health is no longer synonymous with wealth. Everybody can be healthy now. It’s up to each of us to decide what we put into and on our bodies, when and how you do it. It’s become about personal choice now because you can’t make excuses anymore.
Can you tell me about a wellness challenge you’ve had and overcome?
I used to not prioritize myself. There was actually a woman on the show (Home and Family) that surveyed 500 women and asked them to list the top five priorities in their lives. Not ONE of those women listed themselves. Something about reading this really upset me. I had a visceral reaction because these women didn’t even think about themselves as an option which made me reflect on how I’d answer this question. I realized that I wouldn’t have put myself on the list either.
Women are inherently caregivers but you can’t take care of anyone until you take care of yourself. There’s a reason they say put your oxygen mask on first. If you’re not healthy no one around you is going to be healthy.
This experience caused me to reassess my life and give myself permission to care for myself. Because if I don’t take care of me why should you care about me?
What’s your current wellness mantra or life quote?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” by Hippocrates. I wish I could take credit for it! But since he’s Greek like me and the Father of Modern Medicine I’m borrowing it. It was actually the inspiration for my cookbook, It’s All Greek to Me: Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with My Family’s Century-Old Recipes.
I often hear people talk about a “Mediterranean diet” and I’m like that’s just what we eat. So I went to Greece and spent hours with my relatives cooking, shopping at the local markets perfecting my favorite recipes to share because people seem to be seeking delicious, healthy, fresh food. We released a paperback edition and added fifteen new recipes because people loved the book so much!
What’s one wellness product/routine you can’t live without right now?
One routine I can’t live without is having an Epsom salt bath every single night. I wake up at four thirty in the morning for work. I’m out the door by five. When I get home I spend time with my four year old daughter. BY the time I feed her, play three games of Go Fish and read fifteen books to her before she goes to sleep all I want to do is get into that Epsom salt bath and unwind.
I also use Bulletpoof Brain Octane in my coffee every morning. Sometimes I add butter (per the famous Bulletproof coffee recipe) or reshi mushrooms. It keeps me going.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m in the process of writing my next cookbook and developing a skincare line.
Thank you for joining us Debbie!
Catch Debbie on the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family and Instagram @iamdebbiem