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Simple and Sustainable Tips for Becoming Healthier

By Lara Hamilton RDN, CDE

Around the New Year, most of us vow to make drastic changes to our diet and lifestyle. For some, that means adopting a strict and joyless diet or signing up for a hardcore fitness class at 5 a.m. It’s no wonder these resolutions are often short lived.

According to Registered Dietitian Lara Hamilton, when it comes to making lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, slow and steady wins the race. Follow these tips to take small, but mighty steps toward better health in 2019.

Cut out sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks, like regular soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sweet tea raise your blood glucose levels and add empty calories to your daily intake. Replace them with fresh water, low-fat milk, 100% juice with no sugar added and unsweetened tea and coffee.

Purge the junk food.

Cookies, chips, sweets and other snacks are hard to resist when they are an arms-length away. The best way to avoid them is by getting them out of sight and removing them from your home. When you’re craving a snack, try healthier whole food options, like slices of veggies and avocado, a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or kale chips.

Identify an eating pattern you can live with.

There are numerous eating patterns to choose from; it’s about trial and error and finding the best one for your particular body and goal. It could even be a combination of a few. Effective eating patterns include, but are not limited to, vegetarian or flexitarian, Mediterranean, low carbohydrate and low-glycemic.

Plan your meal around vegetables.

At mealtimes, try to fill at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, Brussel sprouts and eggplant. Vegetables are delicious when roasted in the oven, bringing out their natural flavors. Check out the recipe below for a unique and delicious way to prepare whole roasted cauliflower. Finally, start any meal with a simple salad of mixed greens to help you meet your vegetable quota.

Try lettuce wraps instead of bread.

Iceberg green leaf or butter lettuce makes a surprisingly delicious bread substitute. Use them in place of bread for your next sandwich.

Schedule exercise on your calendar.

What you write on your calendar and allot time to is more likely to get done. Your workouts don’t have to be extra rigorous to be effective, just taking a brisk 30 minute walk each day—or at least five times a week—is a great way to get your heart rate up to kick start weight loss and improved health. Remember, anything is better than nothing when it comes to activity, so three days per week of walking is better than none.


In addition to following these steps towards better health, try out this recipe from The Diabetes Cookbook: 300 Recipes for Healthy Living

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette

Excerpted from The Diabetes Cookbook: 300 Recipes for Healthy Living Powered by the Diabetes Food Hub (American Diabetes Association, November 2018, ISBN: 978-1-580-40680-2)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Serving Size: ½ cup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds whole cauliflower


  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • In a small bowl, mix olive oil and salt.
  • Place cauliflower, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Pour olive oil evenly over cauliflower and use your hands to rub the oil and salt mixture into the cauliflower.
  • Place on the middle oven rack, and roast for 60 minutes. If the cauliflower starts getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil.
  • While cauliflower is roasting, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.
  • When cauliflower is finished roasting, pour vinaigrette evenly over entire head.
  • To serve, cut whole cauliflower in half, and then cut each half into four pieces.

Lara and our Nutrition Services and Diabetes Care and Education team are available to help you make healthier choices all year long. Call 630-286-5090 to schedule an appointment today or visit DuPageMedicalGroup.com/services/nutrition-services/ to learn more.

For more information on The Diabetes Cookbook: 300 Recipes for Healthy Living, visit any major bookstore near you or online.

Topics and Subtopics: Diabetes Care & Diet & Nutrition

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