Life doesn’t follow a linear path. And this is even moreso true when you’re on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. It’s inevitable that you’ll run into challenges and potential setbacks as you move through the process. And if you’re a health and wellness professional working with clients, you know this from firsthand experience. So knowing that there will be obstacles up ahead for yourself and your clients, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. In order to be successful in the long term, you’ll want to equip yourself with tools and strategies to navigate these rough spots as they arrive.
One of the most common challenges every health coach, therapist, or counselor has experience is helping a client to move past objections or blocks they may have about making changes. Even positive changes can bring up a lot of resistance. Sometimes it’s around getting into an exercise routine. Other times it’s about cooking meals at home. And yet in other cases, there may be objections related to recommendations from other healthcare providers. In this post, we’re focused on objections that come up around healthy eating, and we’ve rounded up some of the most common obstacles and objections, some of which you may have heard or dealt with personally.
Use these practical strategies to help yourself or your clients move past these roadblocks and into a healthier lifestyle.
How to Overcome Objections to Healthy Eating
Objection 1: I don’t like to cook.
Our thoughts: You don’t have to become a gourmet chef in order to enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals. You can find many quick and easy recipes in cookbooks, on Pinterest, or even with a quick search on the web. By learning to use creative shortcuts in your meal planning and prep, you can make healthy meals at home that don’t require a lot of time in the kitchen. For instance, purchase pre-chopped or frozen vegetables for stir-fry, get lean meats that are pre-cut and pre-packaged. Not “liking” to cook could simply mean you haven’t practiced, so put a few hours in on kitchen duty to boost your confidence and skills.
Objection 2: My family doesn’t like what I make, and it’s too hard to make two different meals.
Our thoughts: Unless there are dietary restrictions present, you shouldn’t be a short order cook. Trying to cook multiple meals to please everyone’s preferences is definitely a drain. So, this is where family meal planning comes in. It’s time to get everyone on the same page. Ask your family members for input on the family’s meals. Develop a list of “family favorites” that everyone agrees on. Try to include at least 15-20 recipes here so that you’re not repeating the same meals every week.
Then, make another list of dishes the family is willing to try. Include some of your own favorites to this list too, and experiment with different versions and cooking methods so they eventually become family favorites over time. When all family members feel included in coming up with the (meal) plan, they’ll be more likely to happily devour what you prepare.
Objection 3: I don’t have time to make healthy meals.
Our thoughts: By simply setting aside to plan, you can save tons of precious time in the kitchen. And by using smart cooking strategies, you can create healthy meals that don’t take much time or effort.
For instance, make your meal plan in advance and create your shopping list from your plan. Don’t forget to include snacks! Then, do your shopping once for the week and set aside a block of time to prep. For many, this happens over the weekend. If you make large enough batches, freeze some of your meals in individual-sized portions to reheat during the week.
Another great time-saving tip is to keep some of your meals simple. For example, a fresh salad with a boiled egg is a great balanced meal that you can enjoy on your busier days.
Objection 4: I can’t resist junk food!
Our thoughts: We don’t advocate for deprivation! Deprivation is the main factor in why so many diets fail. So don’t deny your love of junk food or try to have the “willpower” to resist it. Simply consider how junk food fits into your healthy eating plan.
As you make your plan for healthy eating, allow some room for the occasional treat in ways that don’t derail your overall healthy eating efforts or health goals. Give yourself permission to eat your favorite junk foods occasionally, and in moderation! Also, try making healthier versions of your favorite junk foods or snacks at home. This makes for a fun family activity too!
Objection 5: I don’t like fruits and veggies.
Our thoughts: Kale and broccoli are not your only choices. If these or other produce are not your favorites, that’s okay. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Find the ones that you like and enjoy. Oftentimes, we just haven’t been exposed to enough of a variety to make healthy choices. But by trying a wider variety of produce and experimenting with various cooking methods you’ll be sure to find fruits and vegetables that you love to eat.
Objection 6: I eat out a LOT and I always choose the least healthy meal.
Our thoughts: Eating out is okay, so don’t deny yourself this pleasurable social experience. And guess what? It’s also okay to enjoy your favorite dish when you’re at a restaurant if you do so mindfully.
For instance, order the half plate instead of the full plate, or when you receive your meal immediately ask for a takeaway container and box up half your meal. Some restaurants will even do it for you before serving your meal if you ask. Also, be sure to request modifications to your meal such as sauce on the side. If you are dining out regularly, select a healthier option for your usual meal and order your “favorites” on occasion.
Objection 7: I don’t like logging my food or figuring out calories. It’s too time-consuming.
Our thoughts: Neither do we! Being healthy, losing weight, or meeting your other health goals should NOT be hard, confusing or time-consuming. We take the approach that when too many obstacles are placed in front of you, you’re actually less likely to follow through or succeed.
Instead of trying to figure out grams, carbs, or calories, focus on building a balance plate or bowl for every meal and snack. A simple rule of thumb is to include half your plate as fruits and veggies at every meal, and the other half evenly divided between your protein and whole grains.
If you’re concerned about sizes, a great technique is hand measuring. This involves simply using your hand to “measure” portion sizes. According to Berkeley Wellness, it looks something like this:
- Your fist = 1 cup of vegetables, fruit, or grains, such as a cup of chopped broccoli, peas, rice, pasta, or oatmeal.
- The tip of your thumb (from the joint) = 1 teaspoon of almond butter, olive oil, or salad dressing.
- Your entire thumb = 1 ounce, such as of cheese.
- Your flat palm = 3 ounces of fish, chicken, or meat. Larger palms represent about 4 to 5 ounces.
- Your cupped hand holds 1 to 2 ounces of nuts.
Another way to easily estimate portion sizes is with an “eyeball” method, where:
- a deck of playing cards = 3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish
- a baseball = 1 cup pasta
- a tennis ball = ½ cup fruit
- 4 dice = 1½ ounces cheese
- 1 die = 1 teaspoon spread or butter
Last, a food log can be an effective way to keep a record of what you’re eating, especially if you may be looking for intolerances or sensitivities in your diet. But don’t overcomplicate this either. There are many free apps that can help you track your food intake, but if you’re not a fan of apps a simple notepad will do.
Objection 8: I skip breakfast because I am not hungry in the morning.
Our thoughts: People who eat breakfast regularly are better able to manage their weight as it may prevent overeating later in the day, or mindless snacking. But you might have an aversion to large meals in the morning, rather than breakfast itself. Consider that breakfast simply meals breaking the fast that your body has been undergoing as you sleep during the night. You can break your fast with a small meal, smoothie, protein muffins, yogurt, or other foods that are not your typical breakfast items. The key is to give your body some nutrients to kickstart your morning and give you a boost for the day ahead.
To get in the habit of eating breakfast, start small with a balanced snack in the morning, and experiment with different breakfast options to find those that you enjoy.
Objection 9: I travel a lot for work. It’s impossible for me to eat healthy.
Our thoughts: Even with a busy travel itinerary, you can adopt habits that support a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits. There’s no doubt that travel can take a toll on your routines and habits, leaving you sleep-deprived, bloated, or completely out of a fitness routine. Here are a few things you can do to stick to healthy eating while traveling.
- At the restaurant, seek out dishes that are cooked with healthier methods such as stir-fried, grilled, chargrilled, or steamed.
- Forego the bread and opt for extra helpings of fruits and vegetables.
- Treat yourself to some time at the hotel gym or a massage at the spa, rather than an indulgent dessert or two.
- Create your own “room service” by toting along healthy snacks or popping into a local grocery to purchase pre-packaged salads or veggies, and stocking up on water.
The next time you’re traveling, use these tip to be prepared and stick to your healthy eating lifestyle.
Objection 10: I can’t afford to eat healthy foods. They’re too expensive.
Our thoughts: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. You may think that eating healthy involves only shopping at pricey gourmet markets or buying exclusively organic foods, but it doesn’t. When you put things in perspective, you’re able to see that healthier foods don’t have to be costly. For instance, heading to the drive-thru for a $7 “Value” Meal only feeds you one time. This is costly. However, when you plan meals and know which foods to prioritize on your grocery list, you’ll be able to eat healthier foods on a regular basis without spending a lot.
Learn what to buy organic by referring to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). These resources include the level of pesticide exposure in our produce supply, steering you away from those most highly contaminated, and letting you know which ones should be prioritized to buy organic. These two lists are updated annually and help you decide when you can save money by buying conventional rather than organic produce.
As of 2018, these are the Dirty Dozen – and the ones you want to buy organic, whenever possible.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The Clean Fifteen are those that have the least amount of pesticide contamination. These are not as high on the priority list to buy organic.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas Frozen
- Honeydew Melons
Migrating to a healthier eating plan should not be complex. Keep yourself on track by using tools that feel doable for you and those that you’ll be able to stick with.