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No More Arguments Tips for Getting or Staying Healthy

Friday, May 19, 2017

Community folks often ask me for tips to get or stay healthy. I start my spiel - eat fruits and veggies, cut sugar intake dramatically, be active.  At this point, one of two things usually happens – eyes start to glaze over or more often than not, the individual interrupts me by listing all the reasons why none of those things will work for him or her.  Here are the top three reasons people give me for not improving their health:  1) I don’t like vegetables, 2) I do not have time to exercise, and 3) It is too expensive to eat healthy.  Believe me; I am familiar with these thoughts myself.   Most recently, I have not been exercising as much as I should. The conversation in my head goes something like this…”You don’t have time today – yes, you do…no, you don’t… you have to check off all these boxes on the to-do list.”  AHHH!   Perhaps you have these internal dialogues as well.  To help combat the arguments, here are some research-backed answers as well as a few tips to help us all get on track!

Argument #1 – I don’t like vegetables. When I met my hubby, he did not eat many veggies.  He said he did not like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peas, etc.  Fast-forward 30 years and he now enjoys large quantities of all the above.  What changed?  New cooking techniques and repeated exposure.  Part of enjoying vegetables is knowing how to cook them – lightly steaming, sautéing, or roasting veggies brings out their flavor and sweetness.  The key is not overcooking which leads to mushy, tasteless veggies with diminished nutritional value.  More importantly, repeated exposure to any foods leads a person to eventually liking it.  According to John Mackey, author of The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity, “Our taste buds turn over very rapidly, and we can reeducate our taste buds fairly quickly. If you don’t like a healthy food such as kale the first time or two that you try, don’t give up on it.  After you have eaten any food 10 to 15 times your will begin to enjoy eating it.  Life can be this wonderful adventure of wellness and vitality if we will reeducate our palates to love the healthiest foods in the world. Once you do, you will find that real food tastes a lot better than any processed food you used to eat—and you’ll be craving those healthy real foods instead.”  TIP:  Buy one new vegetable per week at the grocery store or local farm market.  Look up a recipe and enjoy the adventure.

Argument #2 – I do not have time to exercise. Only 18% of us meet the weekly recommendations for cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening activity. The top excuse for not exercising - time.  Finding the time and energy just to walk seems to elude many Americans.  As a society, we are busy people.  On average, we work 47.6 hours per week.  Feeling tired at the end of the day, many head right to the sofa.  The American Time Use Survey reports the most commonly performed activity at the end of the day—after eating and drinking—was watching television or movies, done by 80% of those surveyed. According to, the average American watches 5.11 hours of TV per day, which adds up to about 9 years of your life.  Given these statistics, the average person really does have time to incorporate more activity into their day.  However, when the doc says you need to get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking), the time commitment can seem daunting.  Let’s break that down.  150 minutes divided by 7 days is about 21 minutes per day.  What’s more, you don’t need to do all 20 minutes at the same time.   According to the CDC, if you garden, rake leaves, walk briskly, vigorously scrub a kitchen floor, or run up and down the stairs for at least 10 minutes twice a day, you will still reap health benefits.   TIP:  Walk briskly at lunchtime, after dinner, while you are waiting for the kids’ baseball game to start, around the mall, grocery store, or local school track.  Besides getting your heart rate up, a good walk lowers stress, and improves mood and energy level.

Argument #3 – Eating Healthy is Expensive Why do we think eating healthy is more expensive?  The answer is complex.  For one thing, it is partially true. Some cuts of good meats and fresh fish are expensive.  That being said, a large container of good for you oatmeal is much cheaper than sweetened, processed breakfast cereal.  Beans are an incredible source of fiber and protein and are a fraction of the cost of beef.  Cutting up carrot sticks for snacks will save you a bundle versus chips.  One argument I often hear is that soda is cheaper than juice or milk.  True.  This, however, assumes that it is healthy to have milk or juice at every meal.  It is not. The truth is that juice and milk contain decent amounts of sugar.  Therefore, they should be consumed in moderation.   It also assumes that if you don’t offer milk or juice, that you must offer some other drink.  The default then is soda.  The best drink for most of us, however, is water, which is free.  Another factor that skews the analysis is marketing.  Processed manufacturers do a great job of convincing us that the packaged lasagna is a great deal.  Finally, studies do not show the whole picture.  Most research looks at one variable such price per calorie or price per serving.  These studies do not take into account the cost of eating processed foods with little to no nutritional value day after day over the course of many years.  The result of this type of diet is Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  These chronic diseases end up costing much more than fresh fruit and veggies in terms of lost work time, doctor visit co-pays, medicines, and hospital stays. 

TIP: Check out Leanne Brown’s cookbook, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day at  This free cookbook is full of great, simple recipes made with real foods that won’t break the bank.  Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health.  If you have questions or suggestions for articles, contact Lorraine at 585-335-4327 or

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