By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

1) Evaluate what you drink.

Cut back on your intake of high sugar liquids such as juice, alcohol, caffeinated specialty drinks and soda. If you have an event on the weekend and you’d like to enjoy a glass or two of wine, cut back on other high sugar drinks during the week.

Change your coffee routine to black or add unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead.

Do not replace your beverages with artificially sweetened drinks, as they are still high glycemic. Did you know that Coke Zero contains caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzonate, “natural flavors”, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, and caffeine? Many studies have demonstrated that aspartame causes weight gain.

Instead, aim for eight, eight ounce glasses of water per day and add lemons, limes, oranges or frozen fruit for taste or drink herbal tea. When you are properly hydrated, your body will burn fat efficiently by increasing your metabolism.

If you are drinking municipal water, pour it into a large container without a lid and let it sit for 24 hours. This will allow the chlorine to off-gas. Then use this as your drinking water supply and refrigerate.

2) Write down what you eat for five days. How good is your diet? If many of your choices are processed food like cereal, cheese, bagels, canned foods, bread, chips, processed deli meat, microwaveable meals, etc. you are consuming a lot of sugar, salt, high fructose corn syrup, refined carbohydrates and added preservatives, colours and flavours. All of this is hard on your liver and takes a lot more energy to digest. This results in weight gain, insulin resistance, and high triglycerides. Eat real food. Set aside time to cook and bake from scratch. Choose healthy snacks like almonds, eggs, hummus, and organic peanut butter.

3) Reduce your caffeine intake. Only drink organic coffee or tea. Remember that soda also contains caffeine. When we consume caffeine, we increase our production of cortisol, the hormone that is released in times of stress. This surge in cortisol increases blood glucose and the excess accumulates directly as fat on your abdomen.

4) Eat a nutritious breakfast. Eat breakfast within 60 minutes from waking up that is high in protein. Cook oatmeal and add shredded apple and pecans. High fibre toast with almond butter and raspberries. Homemade granola with goat milk. Organic plain yogurt with frozen fruit. If you choose a protein powder, make sure it does not contain any additives and is GMO and hormone-free.

5) Exercise and sweat. Move your body at least 20 minutes a day and sweat to aid detoxification by removing sugar, cholesterol and salt. Spend some time in a hot tub or sauna. Aim for 20 minutes of weight training four times per week, upper body one day and lower body with abs the next. When you exercise, your body takes in more oxygen thus giving you more energy.

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a Licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre at 519-863-2338 or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca