The top five excuses for not eating healthily - and how to overcome them

As a health and wellness coach Joanne Henson spends a lot of time listening to people talk about their health, fitness and weight loss goals, and about why they are struggling to achieve them. Joanne has found that the same excuses come up over and over again, and as a result her focus as a coach is generally on analysing what’s behind the excuses, gently challenging them, and then helping clients to overcome them with some creative thinking and an open mind.

Joanne is author of ‘What’s your excuse for not eating healthily’ and here are the top five most common excuses for not eating healthily, plus some suggestions on how to start thinking differently and put the excuses behind you:

1. Healthy food is boring 

Most people think cottage cheese (particularly the low fat version), rice cakes and low calorie ready meals are healthy foods. But they aren’t. They are more processed than the normal versions, have less flavour and have more sugar, artificial flavourings and sometimes salt - none of which is heathy. 

If you find a food boring, don’t eat it. Look around your supermarket and try something new and natural - fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses and lean proteins. Buy a healthy cookbook. Healthy food can be tasty, varied and satisfying if you look beyond the usual (not healthy) suspects. 

2. I don’t have time to prepare healthy food 

Food is advertised as “Ready in a few minutes”, “For snacking on the go”. The implication is that we are all too busy to prepare and sit down to eat real food. 

Stop believing this and write down how you spend a typical day – getting up, showering, working, drinks after work, watching TV, checking Facebook and Twitter, chatting, painting your nails, gaming…..? What activity could you remove or reduce to make time to prepare real food? 

And healthy food can be quick; you could do a stir fry, make an omelette, assemble a salad, grill or pan fry some meat or scramble some eggs – and it won’t take you any longer watching a ready meal rotating in a microwave or fetching a takeaway. 

3. I can’t stick to diets 

Being on a diet will always be hard. You’re following a set of rules devised by someone who doesn’t understand your lifestyle, you’re restricting your food intake and you’re going without foods you love. That’s never going to feel great. 

Diets are not the same as healthy eating. Diets are restrictive, and when something is declared off limits, guess what? You can’t stop thinking about it. 

In contrast, healthy eating is about improving the quality of your food, rather than reducing the quantity. It’s about nurturing your body not punishing it. Eating well improves the way your body functions and changes the way it stores or burns fat, so if you do have excess weight to lose, you will lose it. 

4. I’m eating out 

Do you see eating out as a break from “normal” eating? It’s not. Your body doesn’t process the food eaten in restaurants any differently to the food you eat at home. 

So whilst you might not want to abstain totally, you don’t have to have everything you like. You don’t have to have several pieces of bread from the bread basket, you don’t have to choose three unhealthy courses, you don’t have to order a side dish of fries to accompany your main course, you don’t have to steal fries off your partner’s plate, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate(s) despite being full. 

Instead, try reaching a compromise with yourself. If you want a burger, have it without the bun, ask for salad instead of fries, or share a portion of fries. If you want a dessert, don’t have a starter. If you want a stodgy main course have a salad for starter. Make some healthy choices to give yourself permission to enjoy an unhealthy one. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. 

5. I just can’t resist… 

Many salty and sugary foods are purposely formulated to be moreish. The problem isn’t you, it’s the food. Don’t be duped into feeling you’re powerless to resist! 

Remember you only need to resist something if it’s there to be resisted. So whilst you shouldn’t attempt to give up your favourite food totally, neither should you keep it around at all times. Make it an occasional treat rather than a constant temptation. And when you do have it, really savour it, without a side order of guilt. It’s amazing how many of my clients lose what they thought were uncontrollable cravings when they know they are “allowed” something they love. 

If you find yourself using the same excuses over and over again, whilst kicking yourself for not being as healthy, slim, energetic and happy as you want to be, ask yourself if you are accepting your own excuses as insurmountable truths, when really they are just one view of a situation which you can change if you open your mind and get creative with your thinking. Overcoming your excuses is the key to your success.

Image: iStockphoto


The summer issue of International Therapist is on its way to members. This issue includes articles by professor of pain and analgesia Mark Johnson who explores the uncertainties of dealing with clients experiencing pain, and the Christie team who provide an insight into aromasticks, plus a look at massage and reflexology for fertility issues, acupuncture in athletic performance, FHT members working in unique places, kinesiology and the five elements, Healthwatch England, and getting the most out of your website. Read interviews with Katie Piper who talks about how therapies helped her recovery from an acid attack, and Shared Beauty Secrets’ Clare Anderson who shares how she developed the brand. Don’t miss the chance to win a Hydrotherm Massage System and training, worth £594.

Landing from Tuesday 29th July! You can also login to read this issue (from Tuesday) and past issues online at


Should therapy services ever be discounted?

Have your say…

With more and more daily discount deal companies such as Groupon and Wowcher offering special offers on different products and services, is this driving demand or devaluing the service offered? Does offering a certain amount of money off retail products and therapy treatments help to increase uptake and potentially encourage new customers who, in turn, may become regular clients? Or does an increase in therapy businesses offering discounts mean consumers are expecting more and more for less money, which means therapists are having to drop their prices to be able to compete?

What do you think?

If you are interested in potentially contributing to an article* for International Therapist on this topic, please send your comments, full name and membership number or post code, to (please respond by 15 August 2014).

Thank you for your support.

*Please note that we would want to include the name of any FHT member wishing to potentially contribute to an article in International Therapist on this topic. Only comments received by FHT members will be considered for editorial in International Therapist. By sending your comments in to the FHT, you are granting permission for these comments to be published by the FHT, in print and/or online, along with your name. We may also contact you for further information. We regret that we will not be able to respond to every member who sends in a response, or publish all comments received.


Quote of the week via International Therapist (Issue 107 January 2014)

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Thank you to all of those members, speakers and exhibitors who made the 2014 FHT Annual Training Congress such an enjoyable and successful event.

Held at the East Midlands Conference Centre and surrounded by 330 acres of the University of Nottingham’s landscaped parkland, the congress venue and adjoining De Vere Orchard Hotel proved a huge hit with everyone who attended.

As always, it was wonderful to bring together under one roof so many professionals committed to learning and sharing new therapy skills, techniques and innovative products. The wide range of seminars and workshops – all presented by leading industry experts – were very well received, and lots of members enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a select number of training and product suppliers in between sessions.

It was also a real pleasure to chat to so many of you face-to-face our Social Hour, Ask an Expert and Meet the President sessions. And of course, hats off to those early birds who enjoyed a free outdoor chi yoga session on the Sunday morning, long before the day’s proceedings got under way!

If you did not have a chance to complete a feedback form at the weekend, please do email us your comments » As your professional association, it is important to us that we always look at ways to improve our membership services in the future.

For those who were unable to join us on this occasion, we hope you’ll come along next year, so that you can enjoy all of the wonderful learning and networking opportunities our annual training congresses have to offer.

Images: FHT


Study reveals how gardens could help dementia care

A new study has revealed that gardens in care homes could provide promising therapeutic benefits for patients suffering from dementia.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association and by critically reviewing the findings from 17 different pieces of research, has found that outdoor spaces can offer environments that promote relaxation, encourage activity and reduce residents’ agitation.

Conducted by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School and supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC), the systematic review also found that gardens could offer welcome spaces for interactions with visitors, helping to stimulate memories for dementia patients whilst providing wellbeing opportunities for families and staff.

Dementia is a global public health priority, with reports suggesting that 7.7 million new cases are identified each year. Almost half of the elderly people living in residential care have dementia or dementia symptoms, a figure which increases to more than three-quarters in nursing homes.

The study’s lead researcher, Rebecca Whear, said “There is an increasing interest in improving dementia symptoms without the use of drugs. We think that gardens could be benefitting dementia sufferers by providing them with sensory stimulation and an environment that triggers memories. They not only present an opportunity to relax in a calming setting, but also to remember skills and habits that have brought enjoyment in the past.”

The research represents the first attempt to bring together findings from a range of studies and has also highlighted several factors that must be overcome if gardens are to be useful in the future care of dementia patients. These include understanding possible hazards that a garden might represent to residents, and ensuring staff have time to let residents enjoy an outdoor space to its full potential.

Despite its positive findings, the study’s authors were keen to point out that this area of research is currently understudied and undervalued by policy makers. Dr Ruth Garside, an expert in evidence synthesis and one of the paper’s authors, said:

“There’s a lot we don’t know about how a garden’s design and setting influences its ability to affect wellbeing, yet it’s clear that these spaces need to offer a range of ways of interacting – to suit different people’s preferences and needs. We want to pursue these answers to ensure that care experiences can be maximised for sufferers of dementia, their carers and families.”

This research coincides with the development of a new garden at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Julie Vale, Acting Consultant Nurse for Older People, said:

“We’ve long recognised the importance of therapeutic outside spaces for patients, particularly the frail elderly and those living with dementia. We’ve created the Trust’s very own Devon Garden to allow patients to come away from the clinical environment and experience nature. The garden design incorporates an innovative sound system, a telephone box with stories from Exeter and a safe, calming water feature. The Trust is delighted that the findings from the University of Exeter Medical School support the approach we’ve adopted in identifying new ways of improving care for patients with dementia.”

Image: Dollar Photo Club


Some early morning chi yoga on a beautiful day! #FHTCongress


We look forward to seeing many of you at this weekend’s FHT Annual Training Congress, featuring seminars and workshops from leading experts in the therapy industry! Make sure to visit our exhibition, come along to our social hour, and drop in for some advice on a variety of hot topics. 

There will be live updates and photos on Facebook and Twitter.
Join in with hashtag: #FHTCongress

If you need directions to the venue, an up-to-date timetable or just want to see what’s on, visit

Images: FHT and iStockphoto


Quote of the week via International Therapist (Issue 107 January 2014)

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?


New research by the University of Cambridge finds that one in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease may be preventable

The Cambridge team analysed population-based data to work out the main seven risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

These are:

  • Diabetes
  • Mid-life hypertension
  • Mid-life obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Low educational attainment

They worked out that a third of Alzheimer’s cases could be linked to lifestyle factors that could be modified, such as lack of exercise and smoking.

The researchers then looked at how reducing these factors could affect the number of future Alzheimer’s cases.

They found that by reducing each risk factor by 10%, nearly nine million cases of the disease could be prevented by 2050.

In the UK, a 10% reduction in risk factors would reduce cases by 8.8%, or 200,000, by 2050, they calculated.

Current estimates suggest that more than 106 million people worldwide will be living with Alzheimer’s by 2050 - more than three times the number affected in 2010.

Full article

Image: Dollar Photo Club