Monday, September 15, 2008

Want to get someone's attention? Mess with their head

In all the years I've been doing this work, I've noticed people gradually tune out messages about fitness, weight management, and least the ones with meaningful, important information. Except when it comes to their brains.

This past weekend, for example, I ran a demo booth at a local Whole Foods store for one of my company's sponsors, Organic Bistro. A gentleman and his son stopped by, and I offered them some samples of salmon cakes. The man pretty much went off on me.

"I'm vegan. I'm 51 years old. I'm a professional athlete. Just look at this body. Look at my legs. Do I look like I need your food? If I didn't know what I was doing would I be in this condition?"

I let him rant, and accommodated, interestingly, his wish that his son get a sample of the food that in his mind was not good enough for him.

After he finished, I said to him, "You clearly take very good care of yourself. I'm curious, though, because I'm a sports nutritionist and even athletes seem to not be getting some really important information about nutrition. Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids have been found to delay and possibly prevent the progression of Alzheimer's disease? And that it is possible but not easy to get those omega-3's in a completely vegan diet?"

The man's posture slumped, his voice got quiet, and he said, "My wife has permission, if I ever go shoot me."

Since he'd dug a hole for himself and everyone in the frozen food aisle had been drawn into this interchange because of its decibel level, he couldn't really ask for more information.

So I pulled him aside and suggested that on his own, in the privacy of his own cable connection, that he Google "omega-3" and "Alzheimer's" and draw his own conclusions.

I'm not sure why it is that we're ok with a few extra pounds, we can justify eating that piece of cake even if we've been diagnosed with diabetes and there is a possibility that poor dietary choices might even lead to amputation...or eating those potato chips even though we want a baby and the evidence suggests that trans fats interfere with fertility...

...but you mention the brain and you've got a whole new, motivated audience.

My guess is, that by the time I'd broken down my demo this athlete had already been online learning about Alzheimer's. And hopefully, by now, has been back to Whole Foods for some of those really tasty wild salmon cakes.

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