Throughout December, Kaiser Permanente has been raising awareness about how to improve health through better eating habis as part of its “Wellbeing 365: Stress Less & Thrive” initiative in partnership with the city of Santa Monica.

Through the partnership, which launched in September along with the city’s most recent Wellbeing Survey results, Kaiser Permanente and the city produced a series of short videos, in English and in Spanish, that offer tips and advice from many of Kaiser Permanente’s medical professionals on how Santa Monicans can improve wellbeing in the different parts of their lives.

In the above video, local experts discuss “making healthy food choices and practicing mindful eating” as a means of improving health.

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In the video, host Naibe Reynoso notes that according to the city’s Wellbeing survey results, only a quarter of Santa Monica residents eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily and when that figure is divided by gender, the difference is stark. Only 19 percent of men eat that many servings of fruits and vegetable as compared to 30 percent of women.

Why the gulf? In the video, Kaiser Permanente Dietitian Lori Chang notes that “typically, with men, it’s really about being afraid of utilizing the kitchen and thinking that cooking is a lot more complex than it really is.”

She goes on to say, “If we can show how easy it is to actually make a nutritious meal at home with minimal ingredients, it’s much more likely to happen.”

Santa Monica has Farmers Markets four days a week and in three locations around the city, making fresh produce relatively accessible.

In the video, city of Santa Monica Farmers Market Supervisor Laura Avery says, “If you find it a little bit daunting to come to a Farmers Market, walk around, see all the produce, you kind of don’t even know where to start, you can just stop at a table, talk to a farmer, talk to someone standing in line.”

Chang also points out, “Diets don’t typically work in the long run. What’s really important is to focus on lifestyle modifications that really revolved around nutrition and movement.”

Kaiser Permanente officials noted in an email a list of things people can do to assure healthier outcomes.

  • People often think that they have to dedicate a lot of time and energy to healthy eating.
  • While it does require thoughtfulness and some preparation, eating healthfully is easier than you think.
  •  The first step is to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. While processed snacks are quick and convenient, they are often void of nutrients and high in unhealthy saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
  • Grab a whole fruit instead of a granola bar; snack on celery and peanut butter instead of chips; grab a date for a sweet treat, instead of a cookie.
  • Make sure your diet is rich in vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), whole fruits, grains, lean meats and proteins, nuts and seeds.
  • Limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  • Take advantage of the many Santa Monica farmers markets, which have some of the best locally-sourced produce and fruits.
  • Try cooking at home more. Most of us don’t have time to make everything we eat from scratch, but when we cook for ourselves, we can control what we put in our food.
  • Pack your kitchen with fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats such as chicken breast, turkey, fish, lamb chops. Display fruit in a bowl and place it in a common area, since you are more likely to reach for what is in immediate sight.
  • Make sure you keep healthy options with you when you’re on the go so you can eat nutritiously no matter where you are, or how busy your day is.
  • Nuts, seeds, low-fat cheese sticks, sliced fruit, nut butters, low-fat yogurt, dates, and low-sodium trail mix make for excellent portable options.
  • Prepare your food for the week beforehand when your schedule gets particularly hectic.
  • Ditch high-calorie, high-sugar, artificially flavored beverages in exchange for water or coconut water.
  • Create a healthy plate. Fill ¼ of the plate with a healthy protein (fish, chicken, cooked beans, or tofu). Fill ¼ of the plate with healthy grains or starches such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, corn, peas, or a slice of whole grain bread. Fill the remaining ½ of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or asparagus.
  • Avoid experimenting with the latest fad diet. They can have the reverse effect, and can cause weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, and can alter your metabolism.
  • When in doubt about your food choices, just remember to keep your diet local, plant-heavy, seasonal, and go for variety.

Disclosure: Kaiser Permanente contributed to Santa Monica Next’s coverage of wellbeing issues in Santa Monica. Kaiser Permanente does not have editorial control over Next’s coverage of this topic or any other topic.