3 nutrition lessons from Moneyball

baseball photo - Photo Credit: theseanster93
Photo Credit: Sean Winters/theseanster93 via Flickr
Used unmodified under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license

What does a baseball movie have to say about the world of nutrition? Quite a bit, actually.

This weekend, I got a chance to watch Moneyball (2011, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill). The movie tells the story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager, who recruits undervalued players based on the results of a computer analysis program created by a baseball analyst.

This analyst has a degree in economics, and is often criticized for not having played baseball or gained experience in the recruiting side of the game. Instead, he has a degree in economics, and he created his computer program using the ideas of a security guard, who wrote a book on the topic (the guard is also criticized throughout the movie).

This brings me to the first nutrition lesson:

finger with light bulb - Photo Credit Tsahi Levent-Levi - Some rights reserved (Creative Commons Attribution)
Photo Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi
CC BY 2.0

1. Ideas come from everywhere.

Nutrition relies on information from psychology and marketing, and public health nutrition uses system science knowledge, which is common in fields such as engineering.

While not everyone should make nutrition recommendations, there is great opportunity for collaboration and fresh perspectives from people in other fields.

The economics-trained analyst introduced new ways to think about baseball. This caused resistance from people who only thought of baseball recruiting in the traditional sense, which leads into the second lesson:

thought bubble - Photo Credit: Chicago Art Department
Photo Credit: Chicago Art Department
CC BY 2.0

2. Improvement often requires a change in thinking.

Maybe you (or someone you know) think you (or them) are too fat to lose weight, or too lazy to exercise, or that you will always fail at whatever goal you set for yourself.

Change these thoughts to create more positive self-talk and less resistance to healthy behaviors.

In the movie, Beane faced resistance from the traditional baseball recruiters when he needed to replace the first baseman, one of the team’s best players. Beane couldn’t afford an equally fantastic player, but he could afford three undervalued players that together were as good as (or better than) the one he was losing. And that is the third lesson:

Small steps add up!

3. Small changes can be better than one big change.

Small changes are often easier to accept and serve as building blocks for bigger changes. Small changes, such as exercise or cutting calories, add up to much bigger results. The CDC says “10 minutes at a time is fine” for physical activity (10 minutes x 3 each day = 30 minutes of recommended activity), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides Ways to Shave Calories (using small changes).

Now that you know what lessons Moneyball has to teach us about nutrition, how are you going to apply these lessons? To what other areas of life can you apply the lessons? Leave some comments below.

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Author: Shelly Najjar

MPH in Public Health Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist // Freelance Writer, Community Builder // I have a very long Goal List (Bucket List) and I enjoy doing nail art.

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