"I live a healthy lifestyle by enjoying what I eat and making smart choices," the 5'4" actress tells PEOPLE
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For actress Tichina Arnold, eating a healthy diet is all about balance and enjoying life.

“I love to cook and eat and meals have always been a family event, but as I get older — I just celebrated another birthday — I am traveling more and I’ve had to adjust the types of foods I eat, but certainly not the taste,” Arnold, 48, tells PEOPLE.

Although she has a hectic work schedule and is a single mom to daughter Alijah, 13, Arnold says she doesn’t plan out her meals.

“Sometimes I’m traveling for work and gone for weeks,” she says. “I normally pick up my snacks for travel a few days ahead of time. But, when I’m home with my daughter, it’s kitchen time. We love cooking. It’s a family thing. Alijah and I have so much fun in the kitchen together. We laugh a lot and we experiment with dishes all the time.”

Instead of cheat days, she says she just watches when and how much she eats of anything indulgent.

Arnold also stays fit and healthy by working out 3 to 4 times a week, focusing heavily on cardio and yoga for breathing techniques. To stay hydrated while exercising, Arnold says she has her go-to trick: “Every 2 days, I make sure I drink one liter of Trader Joe’s alkaline electrolyte water to stay hydrated. As I get older, it’s imperative that I keep up with my water intake.”

At the end of the day, Arnold says to enjoy your life more than worrying about how you look.

“Try anything and everything. Don’t be afraid to be bold and be brave especially when it comes to what you eat. After all, you are what you eat!”

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Read on for a day of Arnold’s meals, and for more, pickup a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.


1 slice of wheat toast with light butter

1 cup of mixed blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

Coffee with creamer


Dried mangos


Caesar salad with 4-6 jumbo shrimp


Grilled salmon with ginger sauce




2 glasses of Pinot Noir red wine

¼ cup of spicy pistachios

Total Calories: 1,960

The Verdict

“Tichina has a realistic outlook on managing a healthy diet,” says Atlanta-based dietitian Marisa Moore. She loves Arnold’s energy-boosting snacks, like the fiber-, fat-, potassium- and protein-packed pistachios. Moore suggests topping her toast with an egg for a more filling breakfast and swapping the romaine for kale at lunch for extra fiber. But, she adds, the star’s dinner is “packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients like salmon, ginger and broccoli.”

NOTE: It is recommended that women eat at least 1,200 calories per day, and men eat at least 1,800 calories per day.