Lindsay Watts, MS, RDN
Nothing kills the vibe at a party like letting people know you work in the nutrition profession. New acquaintances hide their plates or try to explain their food choices. Sometimes, I feel like I need to eat double the dessert just to put them at ease! As a dietitian, I want people to make healthy choices and ENJOY their lifestyle. How can we reframe our messages around healthy eating to be empowering and fun instead of discouraging? Even more importantly, how can our messaging extend beyond building knowledge and into spurring action? This month, I reflect on how food brands and a public health organization inspire consumers to take action with positivity.
Brands That Celebrate Positive Messaging
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot from our brands surrounding building a positive message. For example, Well Yes!® Sipping soups launched during my time at Campbell. This brand is built on positivity and saying “yes” to what’s good in life and in food. These sipping soups provide 20% or more of a person’s daily vegetable needs in a convenient package with interesting flavor combinations and simple ingredients. As Marketing Manager, RTS Soup, Pete Herron, shares, “We believe that truly good food should feed more than just your belly. It isn’t just about 'what’ you eat but ‘how’ food makes you feel. We want eating well to be easy, too. That’s why every Well Yes!® Sipping soup we make is built with simple, purposeful ingredients that taste amazing, with positive nutrition packed into every sip!"
Similarly, the iconic V8® brand was built on making vegetables delicious and accessible to everyone. Andres Romero, Sr. Brand Manager Marketing Beverage, shares, "The campaign focuses on highlighting the unquestionable power of plants. It shows how our portfolio provides a delicious array of plant-powered beverages that meet today’s consumers’ demanding lifestyles.”
Brands like these, recognize that many consumers are taking a more holistic approach to health. So, it’s important that we make products that provide positive nutrition and also make eating well convenient and enjoyable.
Turning Positive Messages into Action
Sharing a positive message is not enough. While the shift to positive messaging is important, it is the most impactful when coupled with actions. Tangible and simple behaviors that elicit an emotional connection resonate strongest with consumers and keep them moving in a positive direction.
The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is an organization committed to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Their Have A Plant® Movement aims to move people beyond knowledge into action. President and CEO, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, explains, “There’s a difference between what people know about fruits and vegetables and what they actually feel and do. PBH’s recent behavioral research taps into the emotional connection people have with fruits and vegetables – for example fruits can be associated with feelings of joy and sweetness, while vegetables represent a sense of pride and intelligence. Have A Plant® provides an opportunity to arm influencers and industry to redefine how we talk about fruits and vegetables with consumers and tap into that emotional connection.”
The Have A Plant® Movement uses behavioral science to craft messaging around eating more fruits and vegetables. The result is an action-driven platform to help people move from knowing the benefits of fruits and veggies to actually eating more and tying the behavior to a positive emotional connection. Have A Plant® is an open invitation (and a less finger-wagging approach) to help make it easy for consumers to choose fruits and veggies first. Here’s a plan: Have A Plant®!
Focus on the Positive in Your Communications
Health professionals’ advice or messaging can model these positive communications. We can focus on what a food or behavior ADDS to someone’s life and share solutions that make it easier to reach their wellness goals. Instead of focusing on avoiding a negative health outcome like a disease, highlight a benefit behavior change can provide, like how exercise may promote better sleep or eating a variety of plant-based foods can add more fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet. We can focus on the enjoyment a healthy behavior brings instead of the avoidance of a negative consequence.
Whether you are a nutrition professional or just known as the health guru in your personal groups, we all have a role to play in encouraging healthy behaviors. We can show people how healthy living can be accessible and enjoyable. Every behavior does not need to be perfect, as long as our overall lifestyles move in the right direction AND we’re happy getting there.
Lindsay’s BioLindsay is a nutrition communications analyst at the Campbell Soup Company where she coordinates health professional and consumer communications. She also works with internal and external partners on retail health and wellness programs. Prior to her role at Campbell, Lindsay worked as an in-store retail dietitian. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University and completed her dietetic internship with Pennsylvania State University. Lindsay recently received her Master of Science in Health Communications and Marketing from Boston University.