Karim Harati-Zadeh practices the science of eating well for a long life
Healthy eating is sort of like Mark Twain’s definition of a literary classic: Everyone praises it, but no one actually reads it.
People who claim to be nutrition-conscious may not really know what’s going into their bodies, and how items affect everything from bone density to a strong immune system.
That’s where Karim Harati-Zadeh can help. A chiropractor and nutritional counselor, Harati-Zadeh is determined to inform people how to maximize the health benefits of what they put into their body.
Most of Harati-Zadeh’s clients fall into one of two categories: Those who have a particular condition and want specific advice, and those who know nothing about nutrition and just need general information. Whatever the situation, Harati-Zadeh says nutritional counseling can help.
Nutritional counseling, in short, is about designing a particularized intake of food.
One of his specialties is consulting with patients who are HIV-positive. “They go to medical doctors, but they only get the basics,” Harati-Zadeh says. “There is so much information out there. But it doesn’t work unless it’s tailored for them individually. What I do is much more detailed than recommending a good diet or taking medication.”
HIV can put pressure on overall physiology, he says. So he focuses on supplementation, which he says is often overlooked in the treatment of HIV but which can add to overall health.
Those asking about weight loss and sports nutrition common for those starting a program for athletes or just joining a gym for the first time represent other categories of those for whom nutritional counseling can be beneficial.
Take fad diets from South Beach to Atkins and everything in between. They may shed bounds quickly, but are not necessarily wise for you.
“When you lose weight, if you’re overdoing it, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your organs.” Harati-Zadeh says. “A lot of people say, “‘my friend tried this,’ but just because you hear about it doesn’t mean it’s a healthy diet for you.”
Harati-Zadeh gathers detailed personal information, such as your age, sex, health history, current condition, family medical history, lifestyle (job, activities), food allergies even food likes and dislikes.
“And if people say I can’t eat this or am allergic to that, I call tell then what to substitute. For instance, everyone knows oranges are very high in vitamin C, but green peppers and tomatoes have even more vitamin C in them,” making them options for those who don’t like the taste of oranges.
For those interested in losing weight, Harati-Zadeh doesn’t merely tell them what to eat, but when and how to eat. He even counsel patients in favor of snacking, because frequent eating fuels the metabolism. The kind of snacks is what matters try grapes, not Gummi Bears.
“It’s not about starving yourself,” he says. “The key is not even always to eat less. If you eat healthy foods it will spur your metabolism.” Harsh diets strike a blow to your system when you go off then, and most people “never stick with them forever.”
He dismisses the “no carbs” approach, suggesting instead that it is important to eat healthy carbs.
“Avoid bleached and processed foods. Avoid white bread and white rice in favor of whole grain breads and brown rice. Before, I was really into white rice but I slowly mixed the brown with white,” he says. Eventually, he was able to cut white rice entirely from his diet.
A lot of what we eat we do so out of habit. It is hard at the beginning to leave alone a food you’re used to reach for. His system of slow transitions works well for many of his clients, he says.
“I tell them to add one healthy new food to their diet each week. Overnight, it’s hard to change your eating habits,” but phasing things in and out over time can reduce the stress on your body. Harati-Zadeh says he hasn’t had a soft drink in five or six years “soft drinks have phosphoric acid which is not good for your bones” but he didn’t give them up all at once.
“Nutritious consumption is a process,” he says.
Nevertheless, there are a few absolutes and general principles everyone should strive for. (See sidebar.) Artificial sweeteners? “Leave ’em alone,” he says. Like a daily jolt of caffeine? Get it from green tea or white tea, both of which have antioxidants. He suggests substituting tea for coffee or soft drinks entirely. Bioflavonoids are great for the body, and are available in fruits like blueberries and grapes, and even red wine.
The key to effective nutritional counseling is finding a formula that works for your health and your lifestyle. “It’s good to find something you can follow for the rest of your life,” Harati-Zadeh says.
For more information, contact Karim Harati-Zadeh, 3303 Lee Parkway, Suite 404. 214-520-0092.
Although the best nutritional counseling is tailored to the needs of the individual, Karim Harati-Zadeh offers these basics for getting off on the right food when working on proper diet.
1. Avoid rapid weight loss. Sudden changes in weight put stress on the organs.
2. Set a realistic goal and stick with it. Don’t try to do too much at once. If you set out to do something achievable, you’re more likely to benefit from the rewards. Don’t over-commit.
3. Challenge yourself to try one new healthy food a week. It’s easier to adjust in stages than all at once both psychologically and physically.
4. Avoid chemically treated foods. Processing robs food of many of the components that make it valuable to your system.
5. Pay attention to portion sizes. Keep the meals small overdoing a good thing doesn’t help, either.
6. Snack on fruits and vegetables. Avoid junk food go organic.
7. Switch to whole grains.
8. Limit packaged foods. Again, processing is the villain of modern health.
9. Trim the meat. Some fat is OK, but you probably get enough in your diet naturally.
10. Prepare more meals from fresh produce and grains.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.