Healthy Food & Life: Why It's So Hard to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
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Why It's So Hard to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes

healthy lifestyle changes and sunrise

Most of us realize that sooner or later we have to make some healthy lifestyle changes. Our doctor tells us, our kids tell us, our parents tell us, and we tell ourselves. But it seems so hard to change our diet and our way of life. Learn why it’s so hard and you can easily make those healthy lifestyle changes today.

When you’re young and think you have time to change, it is easy to put off making healthy lifestyle changes. But time goes by fast, and before you know it, you’re overweight with high blood pressure.

A healthy lifestyle is all about enjoying life to the fullest without relying on medications and constant visits to the doctor’s office and the drug store.

Some might say they don’t want to live to 100. But the reality is that by 50 years of age, most Americans are taking at least two prescriptions and maybe more. Prescriptions for all kinds of illnesses including hypertension, acid reflux, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.

This is not enjoying life to the fullest. So why is it so hard to make healthy lifestyle changes?

Why Is It Hard to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Once you learn why it is so hard to make healthy lifestyle changes, you can then avoid these pitfalls. Some of the reasons it is hard to make healthy lifestyle changes include:

  • Ever-changing dietary advice
  • Contradictory studies
  • Fad diets everywhere
  • Peer pressure and advice
  • Breaking old habits
  • It's too extreme to change my diet and lifestyle

“Some people think that a plant-based whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million a year will have their chests opened up, a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.” – Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. 

Ever Changing Health Advice

Changing to a healthier diet is usually the first thing we think about when considering healthy lifestyle changes. And one of the reasons it is so hard to make healthy lifestyle changes is because we get contradictory dietary and lifestyle advice from all directions.

One day a government agency is telling us to eat this, but don’t eat that. And then another study comes out telling us just the opposite. Salt is good, then it isn’t, and then it’s good again. It’s enough to make many of us just say the heck with making healthy lifestyle changes.

And this confusion has been made worse by inaccurate headlines that are nothing more than click bait. The articles are rarely as accurate as the original study.

A recent example states that eating eggs lowers heart disease. But when you read the actual study, you find out is people that eat less than one egg per day had fewer heart attacks. Hardly what the headlines portrayed.

And there are many more examples of misleading headlines that only further our confusion about making healthy lifestyle changes.

Who Funded That Study

The reason for this contradictory dietary advice is because there is too much money in unhealthy food. There’s not a lot of money in promoting broccoli, potatoes, or oatmeal.

We have the dairy industry, the beef councils, and the egg industry all getting into the act when it comes to forming our dietary guidelines and funding studies. We have also various groups representing junk food and processed food corporations.

A recent attention-grabbing headline was how vegans being deficient in choline risk having lower IQs because of their diet. This made everyone afraid of eating a vegan or a whole food plant-based diet.

In fact, this was not a study, but an editorial by Dr. Emily Derbyshire who sits on the Meat Advisory Council [1]. Of C she had a financial interest in writing this.

But the headline served the purpose of the meat industry, and it just confuses us more.

The American Heart Association comes out with all kinds of health advice for eating healthy for heart health. Yet, the AHA is funded by all kinds of food groups including the National Dairy Council.

On September 18, 2019, the AHA issued a report stating that young children should not drink plant-based milk. Just two days later, the AHA took the National Dairy Council off of their funded roster list [2].

These are just two examples of just how corporations and not doctors form our so-called healthy food guidelines and keep us confused.

Who Can We Trust With Dietary Advice

Next to quitting smoking, eating healthy is the best lifestyle change we can make.

There are all kinds of agencies that supposedly tell us what a healthy diet is and what we need to do to make healthy lifestyle changes.

We have the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, The Food and Drug Administration, and many more all telling us what to eat and how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Yet these organizations get some of their funding from the food industry.

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “soda companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have funded 96 major public health groups in the United States, including the Academy and other groups like the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association.” [3]

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo own a lot more than just their soda pop divisions. 

News shows and magazines cannot be too blunt in criticism of unhealthy foods because they would then lose advertisers.

And these food corporations and food associations also have lobbyists that try to shape our food guidelines, our laws regarding food, and to keep propagating healthy food myths.

No wonder it is hard to believe much of what we read and what the heck we’re supposed to do to make these healthy lifestyle changes. 

I have read many books about how food affects our health, and I have come to the conclusion that a whole food plant-based diet is the healthiest. And there are certain doctors that I believe for dietary advice, since their methods have been proven by science.

The doctors whose books that have taught me the most about eating a healthy diet include:

  • Dr. John McDougall
  • Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne Jr.
  • Dr. Neal Barnard
  • Dr. Garth Davis
  • Dr. T. Colin Campbell 

Medications or Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

It is easy to think you will make some healthy lifestyle changes next year or sometime in the future. In reality, the sooner you do it; the better off you will be in the future.

In 1997, there were 2.5 billion prescriptions filled in the United States. By 2016, the number had increased 85% to 4.5 billion prescriptions filled.

At least 55% of Americans regularly take prescription medications each day, and the average was four different medications. [4]

One doctor told me she figured that it was one prescription medicine for each decade of a person’s age. So by the time you reach 50 years of age, you can figure on taking five prescriptions each day.

Is that how you want to live? The sooner you make healthy lifestyle changes, the sooner you can do away with your medications. Studies have shown that by changing to a healthy diet, you can reverse many diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses.

Don’t Make It So Hard

Another reason it is so hard to make healthy lifestyle changes is well-meaning family and friends have all kinds of advice, some good and some bad. If you want to make a healthy lifestyle change by eating a healthier diet, some might tell you you’re crazy, or that is wrong.

And every magazine, book, and news show has different advice on the healthiest diet. You hear about the Atkins diet, paleo diet, keto diet, vegan diet, whole food plant-based diet, Mediterranean Diet, raw food diet, the DASH diet, the calorie restriction diet, the HCG diet, or the advice to just eat what you want.

It’s enough to make you dizzy.

Educating yourself about what lifestyle changes you think you should make is how you cut through the noise.

Read books about nutrition, especially books from actual doctors that aren’t selling supplements or some kind of special product that will only work with their dietary advice.

Being Healthy Isn't Boring

Another reason it is so hard to make healthy lifestyle changes is you think you have to give up partying. But the good times of drinking and eating junk food can soon be replaced by disease, and that is not a good time. And you don't have to stop having fun just because you make healthy lifestyle changes.

Someone once said to his doctor that eating a healthy diet is too extreme, and the doctor replied, it is nowhere near as extreme as having heart surgery.

Living a healthy life free of medication and illness should be enough motivation to change. And certainly hearing your doctor tell you that you have dangerously high blood pressure or heart disease would be plenty of motivation to make some healthy lifestyle changes.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes Conclusion

Change can be worrisome, but it can also be positive and exciting. When you make healthy lifestyle changes, you will start to lose weight, reverse illness, stop taking medications and begin to worry less about your health. 

Saying no to unhealthy food becomes easier as your health improves, and it will improve.

It doesn’t have to be hard to make healthy lifestyle changes. And it won’t be hard once you understand why it’s so hard. Stop listening to the noise and don’t believe in fad diets or quick fixes. And before you know it, you will be living your healthy lifestyle change.

About The Author

Sam Montana is a certified Food Over Medicine instructor from the Wellness Health Forum Center and certified in optimal nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

© 2019 Sam Montana/Healthy Food and Life


[3] Time
[4] Consumer Reports  
Why It's So Hard to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes


  1. This is an interesting read. Myself sufferer of hormonal imbalance from a decade was struggling with hundreds of issues. The only thing that worked for me was making healthy lifestyle changes. Being a Vegetarian, It was not easy but not hard also. Now I am happy with my stamina and energy with things that I am able to do. Healthy eating, regular exercise and Nature walks (Hiking) benefited me a lot. Thanks for spreading awareness

    1. I love hearing stories from people who cure their health issues by changing their diet. It is amazing how a change in diet can cure so many problems, even health issues that doctors were at a loss to figure out. Eating a whole food plant-based diet eliminates so many chemicals in our foods. Chemicals that disrupt our hormones and endocrine system.

      These chemicals are called obesogens, which I wrote about also in Do Obesogens in Our Food Cause Obesity.

  2. Great information with really helpful tips and reminders. I think a lot of people struggle with the constant influences of fad diets and then get discouraged.

  3. I feel like old habits are the hardest for me, especially if family members do not support your desire to make healthy changes. It's an uphill battle, but it's worth it.

    1. Hi Emily. It can be very hard to change when others in the family do not eat the same way. But I know many who do though. Some do it because of a health scare or illness, while others do it because they want to live a long life without medications.

      Many times a spouse will see the positive health changes and join their spouse in their healthy eating and lifestyle changes. And you are right, it is worth it.