Live Forever Free Seminar on Nutrition Basics

Created: 15 January, 2019
Last update: 20 April, 2022

By Marielena Castellanos

Just before the end of last year, Richard Arvin Overton, the country’s oldest World War II veteran and the third oldest man in the world, died from pneumonia. CNBC reported Overton was 112 years old.

Within the last two years, Overton, the grandson of a slave, who witnessed the repeal of Jim Crow laws, the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the election of the first black president of the United States, was said to be in good health by his family.

Here in San Diego, Ray Chavez, the oldest surviving U.S. veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack died in Poway last November in his sleep at the age of 106, his daughter told the San Diego Union Tribune.

In March of last year, during his birthday, Chavez said his secret to long life included no alcohol or drugs.

What else does it take to live to 100? Is it one’s eating habits? Or which exercises make the best sense at different ages? Which diets are the best to lose weight? What about carbohydrates? How important is fasting? Spinach or Iceberg lettuce? Which vitamins are best for you? What about healthy gut bacteria? How do you lower cholesterol?

Anyone with specific questions about how to live a long and healthy life should consider attending Nutrition Basics Class: Eat Better, Think Better, Feel Better, a free workshop sponsored by Sharp HealthCare and the City of San Diego.

The free workshop will explore the impact of what you eat and the way your body functions, and offers an opportunity to ask personalized questions and to learn about balanced diets, daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables and so much more, on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 at the Skyline Hills Library Branch, on 7900 Paradise Valley Road.

“It can be difficult to know what to believe when you read information online, if a person comes in person they know they are receiving the information from a reliable source,” said Kelly Young, manager of patient education and support with Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management, when explaining the advantages of attending the free workshop in person.

“It gives the person an opportunity to hear the questions and ideas from other community members with similar health goals,” Young also pointed out.

Sharp HealthCare is the City of San Diego’s official health and wellness partner and will provide six classes at libraries and recreation centers this year in each of the nine city council districts for a total of 54 classes, all free of charge.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study of 23,000 people found that changes in lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and tobacco use could potentially prevent 93 percent of diabetes, 81 percent of heart attacks, 50 percent of strokes and 36 percent of all cancers.

For those who are not able to attend, Melissa Hughes, a registered dietitian with the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management, offers five tips to eat well and be well.

Find balance in your daily diet. Visit to see an illustration of a plate featuring the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

“When we look at our plate, we want to fill half of it with non-starchy vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and greens,” says Hughes.

Familiarize yourself with fats — Fats are an important component of the diet, but they are not all created equal. Focus on incorporating healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fatty fish.

Avoid or limit alcohol. Many adults have a daily drink, but this doesn’t make it a good idea. Alcohol is not a diet essential and can lead to injuries, health problems, birth defects and alcohol use disorders if abused. Learn your personal risks and remember that moderation is key if you decide to decide to drink.

Skip too many sweets. Limit added sugars to less than 2 tablespoons per day. Beware: a slice of cake can have 4 tablespoons of sugar; energy drinks and soda have 5 tablespoons; and even a cup of yogurt can have 2 tablespoons of the sweet stuff.

Know your needs. On average, women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day while men need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories. However, your age, height, lifestyle, general health and activity level can also affect your daily caloric needs.

“It’s important to keep it simple,” says Hughes. “Know what’s in what you eat and drink, don’t eat when you‘re not hungry, watch portion sizes, enjoy fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods, and drink lots of water.”

If you’re not able to make that workshop, another one will be held Tuesday, February 26, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library.

Other workshops can be found online at, and registration for this and other classes can be done through that website or by calling 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277).