Dietitian: Eat right and feel better

by LORI BASHEDA

Eating healthy comes down to this: making smart choices. Bita Hirsa, a registered dietitian and health educator at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Healthy Living, explains.

What makes a healthy diet?

In a nutshell: eat food, not too much, and mostly plants. Reduce the amount of processed foods and packaged foods and processed meat and increase the amount of whole foods provided to us by nature – vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.

Any tricks for sticking to a healthy diet?

The mistake is to make too many changes at once. Start small and gradually build a healthy eating pattern. Examples of small changes may be starting your day with a glass of water, adding some fruit to your breakfast, starting lunch with a salad or vegetable soup or replacing soda with water.

If I eat right do I still have to exercise?

Exercise is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week is recommended. Regular exercise helps burn calories, relieve stress and regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. Finding an exercise buddy and doing something you love will help you stick with an exercise program.

Keto vs. vegan: Is one better than the other?

It’s important to know why someone would want to be vegan or keto in the first place. Eating patterns that are overly restrictive or eliminate entire categories of food can leave us deficient in key nutrients and are difficult to maintain in the long term. Lifestyle changes are the best way to be healthy or lose weight.

What shouldn’t I eat?

No foods are off-limits! Everything in moderation.

Do you recommend a specific eating plan or coach?

Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Healthy Living offers many different virtual workshops, including “Healthy Balance,” which focuses on how to lose weight through lifestyle modification. Visit kp.org/centerforhealthyliving or call 714-748-2714 to enroll.

What are a few of your top healthy snacks?

Fruit with nuts or nut butter, vegetables with hummus, yogurt with fruit or chia seed pudding.