Ask the Expert—Dr. Izzy Lira

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Q: With all of the trendy cleanses and diets out there, can you recommend a way of eating that will kick-start the New Year in a healthy way? I still want to be able to enjoy eating what I love.

A: At this time of year, everyone is thinking about their life and planning ways to improve it. Losing weight is usually at the top of everyone’s list of resolutions. Many look to fad diets which seem, at first, to get results. These are not healthy in the long run however, and nine times out of ten, those that try the “latest and greatest”, gain back what they lost within a couple of months. But the goal is good, as this is a perfect time to take advantage of the desire for self-improvement. The key is to aim for a sustainable lifestyle change that will be a healthy and permanent part of your life.

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Turn yourself into a foodie. If your meal decisions are made consciously and selectively, you’re more apt to eat healthy. What you eat is just as significant as how—and how much—you eat. My nutrition guidelines are actually pretty similar to the Paleolithic diet or “clean” eating. While the Paleo diet (basically what our ancestors ate before the agricultural age) seems trendy lately, it makes perfect sense. Eat only those natural and organic foods that grow (or run across) the ground. Avoid fast food, but also stay clear of food that’s been processed, prepackaged, or contains refined sugars. Processing food not only reduces its nutritional value and fiber content, but adds salt, fat, sugar, and chemicals. The ONE exception to processed food that I advise my clients to take is protein powder supplementation for post-workout recovery.

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Choose fresh fruit instead of fruit juice (unless you’re juicing your own), and if you must pick a processed vegetable, frozen is always better than canned. Give your body the nutrients it needs without the processed additives and extra calories of a trendy diet. And most importantly, drink plenty of water. Water intake is a critical element for the body’s various processes.

With all of this healthy eating, don’t be afraid to splurge every now and then. It takes willpower to ignore those comfort-food cravings, but when you take away your favorite foods altogether, your willpower will eventually break. To prevent this, allow yourself the occasional treat. And don’t derail completely after one night of powering down pizza. If your splurge leads to a binge (hey, we’re all human), just make a point to get back on track with clean eating the very next day. What I recommend is balance, or the 80/20 rule. (Eat clean, healthy, natural, and whole foods eighty-percent of the time and allow yourself to indulge twenty-percent of the time.)And as always, see your chiropractor or doctor for more tips!

A Doctor of Chiropractic, Izzy Lira is also a strength and conditioning specialist.

Follow Dr. Lira on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DrIzzyLira
Find Dr. Lira on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DrIzzyLira

Photo of Dr. Lira by Richard Salas. Fruit and vegetable images from StockFreeImages.com.

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