It all started as an idea – an idea that turned into Robb’s Angels’ debut mission. Last Sunday and Monday the Angels set out to make some waves at this years American Dietetic Association (ADA) Conference in San Diego. (As an aside the Association will be changing its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics effective January 2012.) Our main goal at the conference was to generate interest in the paleo lifestyle and gain some allies in our fight for optimal health through nutrition. (Here is a link to the mission details.) We set out not sure what to expect. Would we be laughed at, yelled at, loved, hated, or just flat out ignored?
We entered the expo hall on Sunday morning ready for anything. We were greeted by a banner showcasing all of the major sponsors. Things were looking grim – but we weren’t scared. I mean really, we’re Robb’s Angels; Coke, Pepsi, and Whole Grains don’t stand a chance… We continued on to our booth passing the ‘Sweet N’ Low’, General Mills, Kellogg’s and Nestle emporiums (seriously, they had some MAJOR exhibits – HUGE!!!). But we still were not discouraged as we also had some pretty strong allies – the Beef Council, Pork producers, Avocado growers, strawberry, blueberry, fig, walnut and almond groups all had some very impressive digs too. We arrived at our booth to see that we were positioned across from some heavy hitters (see picture below) – but we had two days to make our mark and we weren’t going down without a fight!
Armed with some awesome literature,( The Paleo Solution (the Spanish version too!!), Everyday Paleo, Paleo Comfort Foods, Make it Paleo and a FAQ sheet) we were ready, and the mission had begun. We cannot thank Victory Belt Publishing enough for sponsoring, our booth, and giving us the opportunity to spread the word. This would not have been possible without the help of Linda (our honorary Angel), Siegy, and Erich Krauss the Victory Belt team.
We had many people stop, pick up the books, and flip through them – little did they know, they were in for our sales pitch. We LITERALLY jumped out of the booth and stepped in front of them so they couldn’t walk past without hearing about paleo. In the words of Angel Stephanie G., “I cannot even begin to describe how rewarding it was to see some of our worst critics and skeptics start to see things more clearly.” Jay from Season 11 of the Biggest Loser even picked up a copy of Everyday Paleo for his son, who is living a paleo lifestyle. Very positive and hopeful!!
We were faced with a spectrum opinions regarding the paleo lifestyle. Surprisingly many dietitians and health professionals had never heard of it and wanted to learn more! Some were more knowledgeable and others ‘thought’ they knew. We worked hard to dispel myths and generate excitement. For the most part we were VERY successful. I had one RD request Robb hold a book signing. Another, when I asked “How would you describe the paleo diet?” answered; “It’s the diet everyone should be on.” And still another told us, “You guys should be the ones running this show.”
We had others that visited wanting more information because a friend, family member, or co-worker was ‘doing paleo’ and with great success. Professors, doctors, and professional associations were among those who were actually on our side and wanted to help spread the word. While many of the expo exhibitors were giving away free samples of their products, we didn’t need to – paleo sells itself no fancy packaging or ‘new formula’ required.
We did face some opposition, which was to be expected. We spent a small amount of our time educating these resistant individuals, most often to no avail. A concept that is extremely important for all of us to understand is that we need to choose our battles wisely. We are here to educate, assist, and encourage the paleo way of life – but no matter what we do, say, or how much evidence for paleo there is there will always be an ‘unreachable’ population unwilling to change. As Robb says, “We really need to avoid negative people and focus on the ones who need our help and are at least willing to try.” It is a fact of life that we will win some and lose some but one thing is certain – we will NEVER stop fighting, helping people, and changing lives. And we all love a happy ending!!
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” -John Wooden