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July 2013

What do you think of when you hear something—not someone—is "healthy"?

Since you're in the health space, you might think the item in question is tasty or energizing, empowering, good for your mind and body. Others, however, would probably rattle off words like "unpalatable," "not as good as," "hard," "denial."

"People expect something to taste worse if they believe it's healthy," says Charles Spence, an Oxford University neuroscientist who specializes in how the brain perceives food. "And that expectation affects how it tastes to them, so it actually does taste worse."

This quote comes from an article about using junk food to reduce obesity. In it, the writer contends we'd move more people toward health if we made junk food better than if we kept tilting at windmills—trying to get people to eat like Mark Bittman, a food journalist and author of the recent advice and recipe book, Vegan Before 6. (The name of his book should give you some indication of his dietary leanings.)

If we react this way to food, why wouldn't we react similarly to other things labeled healthy, such as wellness benefits and resources? Why wouldn't we automatically conjure up images of something undesirable, difficult, and less tasty? The question, then, is how do we stop selling spartan and start selling appetizing?

Fortunately, there are role models for a new language for health. My current favorite is Thug Kitchen, a NSFW* food recipe site run by a bunch of anonymous "thugs." Their liberal use of the f-bomb will turn some people off, but look beyond it to what they're doing. These thugs are turning out easy-to-make and healthy recipes—stripped free of precious or fear-based messaging. They're giving healthy a good dose of cool. Suddenly, healthy's smart, delicious, crushing it.

In case you think Thug Kitchen has limited appeal even in our Kardashian world, Saveur—a luxury world food magazine—named Thug Kitchen "best new blog" in its 2013 best food blog awards.

Thug Kitchen isn't the only example of a new language for health. And it's probably not the one that's going to work in most companies. For other examples, look at Feel Rich, Seduce Health, or my blog series, "communications your employees crave."

Let's make healthy tasty.

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*Not suitable for work
The above was originally posted on free-range communication, context's blog.


The Future of Getting Paid to Be Healthy "Pairing financial incentives and workplace wellness programs, employers can save money, and employees can make it." (The Atlantic)

Is Health Wealth for Food/Beverage Industry? "The sector is witnessing changes in consumer preferences toward health and wellness and 'good-for-you' products due to rising health consciousness and increasing public and governmental concerns regarding obesity and other maladies." (Yahoo! Finance)

Mayo Clinic to Use Connected Devices in New Employee Wellness Offering "Mayo Clinic announced last week a new online platform called Mayo Clinic Healthy Living that will leverage mobile health tools to provide preventative care to employees of Mayo's B2B employer clients." (MobiHealthNews)


In June, I highlighted an interesting infographic from Intuit on free-range communication. It identifies ways employers and employees can create an environment to lower stress and boost productivity. View the infographic.


Hotseat is designed to turn short activity breaks into meaningful exercise. Since June, employees of the American Heart Association have been testing Hotseat to discover whether it does what it's intended to do. These numbers say "yes!"

  • 74% of pilot registrants have engaged with Hotseat
  • 71% of respondents report taking more breaks since using Hotseat
  • 86.8% say they're more mindful of their time spent sitting

I'll develop a case study once the pilot's over. In the meantime, reach out by email or phone if you have questions or want a demo. Hotseat is priced most effectively for companies with at least 500 employees. Learn more.


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