FIT Talk With Tania  

What's in your water?

Would you be upset if you found out that bottle of spring water you just paid $3 for was from the tap?

I certainly would.

Sometimes people buy bottled water for functions or sporting events where the focus isn't so much on quality, but rather having access to enough fluids throughout the day or event.

Then, there are those who purchase it simply because they believe bottled is best. But is it really? And which one do you choose?

Recently, Extreme Natural Health News published an article in which the Pepsi Corporation admitted that their Aquafina bottled water is not spring or purified water as the label indicates, but just ordinary tap water.

The company is being forced to change their labelling to reflect what is actually in the bottle. And well it should.

Regardless whether you're choosing bottled for health or convenience, knowing what you're consuming is important. Read the full article here

Many people choose bottled over tap believing it to be a healthier choice.

Bottled is often marketed as fresh, pure, and originating from some mountain spring giving us the illusion that drinking that bottle of water is somehow better for us than filling a glass from the tap in our kitchen.

It seems logical that a water-bottling company would have more stringent rules and filtering processes around their H2O, ensuring removal of things like pharmaceuticals, fluoride and bacteria. Especially since you're paying for it and tap water at home is virtually free.

As we read above however, clearly, this is not the case.

As it turns out, most public water sources  — tap water — have more regulations and safer testing processes than the bottling companies.

That being said, chlorine and other chemicals are used in the purification process of tap water, and fluoride, a controversial mineral, is often added.

Every city may be different as well, so having your tap water tested and knowing for sure what's in that bottled water, is really the only way to compare. Trying to make a choice between the two otherwise, the waters can become a little muddied.

In our quest for water that is safe, chemical and disease free, reverse osmosis is another form of purification touted as healthy.

People buy it from special filling stations or pay to have a unit installed in their home.Yes, it removes all the undesirables, but it also removes the good stuff too – trace minerals – and lowers the pH making it acidic. Some people who use RO water buy trace minerals to add back in, and then have the pH tested to try to bring it up to be more alkaline.

Many diseases thrive in an acidic environment so if you're using RO water and you haven't had it checked, you might want to do that.


pH is measured on a scale of zero to 14, with seven being neutral. Our blood is naturally slightly alkaline, or at least it should be, at around 7.4. Our stomach on the other hand is 3.5 or lower as the acidity is needed to break down food.

Some other H2O options you may have heard of include de-ionized water and distilled water - both pure sources with distilled being a conductor of electricity and de-ionized not.

Both are commonly used for refilling batteries, cooling engines and cleaning as it is free of compounds.

Alkaline water is gaining popularity in an effort to keep our bodies at the desired pH, creating an environment of health. There are many different brands and systems and those who use it will have their favourite and most report noticeable health benefits when drinking it.

But as I learned over the weekend at a health conference, some companies are now upping the ante, adding things like more trace minerals most of the population is deficient in, oxygen as we are typically shallow breathers, fulvic acid to help restore minerals and detox the body of heavy metals, and beetroot powder for it's fibre, nutrients, folate, and Vitamin C.

Beetroot has also been known to lower blood pressure and increase athletic performance. You can't “beet” that.

Water is essential for life. Our bodies are more than 70% water and whatever nutrients we use up, must be put back. Every function that happens in our brain and each one of our bodily systems requires water to operate as it should.

While many say your water type doesn't really matter because you're getting everything you need from food, my question is always, “But are you?”

Studies have shown that most people when not supplementing, are deficient in some way. I am a big proponent of supplements and share those benefits with my clients.

Bottom line, the human body can survive about three weeks without food, but only three to four days without water. Hydration is great, but if your body is missing some of those vitamins and trace minerals, you may already be acidic.

Know what's in your water, replace what's missing and make sure to drink about three litres each day to keep your brain and body functioning optimally and create an environment of health.

Drink up!


Lunches for learning

It’s that time again, back to school.

Kids are enjoying their last few days of summer vacation while parents are picking up last minute school supplies and doing the grocery shopping for the first week of back to school lunches.

Alas, granola bars, juice boxes, yogurt tubes and lunchables will once again become a weekday staple for many children.

I believe we owe it to our kids to do better.

As a parent, I know how difficult it can be to pack a lunch that is both nutritionally balanced and appealing to the child. And, having worked in schools for more than a decade, I've seen what gets sent in those lunch boxes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we never give our children a treat in their lunch box, but I am a firm believer that every-day food choices should be based first on what is best for the child rather than what is the most fun or easiest to pack.

If asked, I’m sure most parents would agree that good, balanced nutrition helps a child do better in school.

Kids who come to school fuelled by a nutritious breakfast of balanced PFCs (protein, fats, carbs) and bring nutritionally balanced foods with them to eat throughout the day, get sick less often, have more energy, fewer behaviour problems, are better able to focus and attend to the teacher, and generally be more productive.

Kids just learn better. What many parents don’t realize is how being nutritionally unbalanced can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn.

Let’s go back to the principle of blood-sugar stabilization and start with breakfast.

Breakfast is often the most difficult meal to organize, but it’s also the most needed. Overnight our bodies go through a “starvation” period and we wake in a state of low blood sugar and near dehydration.

Eating and drinking water within one hour of waking is crucial to hydrate cells, bring blood sugar levels up and provide the body and brain with the nutrients and glucose it needs to function.

Without food, the body essentially feeds off itself and will burn muscle to get the fuel it needs to get us up and going. It’s no wonder that kids (and adults!) who miss breakfast show up to school (or work) yawning, with low energy, have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand and are sometimes a little grumpy.

So you say, well, it’s only one meal and they have a lunch so the rest of the day should be fine, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Because the child has missed breakfast, he or she will likely eat most (or all) of that lunch at recess, causing blood sugar levels to spike, only to have it crash again around lunch time when there is very little food left to bring it back up.

Spiking and crashing blood sugar causes hormones to become unbalanced and can cause mood swings, behaviour issues, impaired concentration and focus, lack of overall energy and a general “wiped-out” feeling by the end of the school (or work) day.

Sound like any kids (or parents) you know?

The bad news is that there are a lot of kids out there that fit this description.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be your kid.

Being organized is key. Making lunches and planning breakfast the night before, as well as waking up 15 mins earlier, are simple strategies to help ensure your child starts his day alert and continues through it focused and ready to learn.

Aim to prepare and pack a healthy protein, fat and carbohydrate for each time your child eats during the day.

Here are a few of our family’s favourites.

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • chicken breast
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • Greek yogurt

These are all great protein options.

Avoid regular yogurt and tubes as they have very little protein, loads of sugar and colour as well as additives.

Avocado, olives, hard cheeses, hummus, tzatziki, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and spreads like seed butters rather than our old go-to peanut or nut butters not allowed in schools, are a few examples of healthy fat choices.

Fruits, veggies, oatmeal and quinoa are all excellent choices for the carb portion of each meal.  Use breads, crackers, chips, processed foods, juice boxes etc., sparingly as these foods cause blood sugar spikes and have very little nutritional value.

Don’t forget to include a large water bottle to wash it all down.

Why not try planning and packing lunches together with your child? Educate him on how many PFC meals he will need throughout the day and why and let him choose the combinations.

Kids who are involved in the process are more likely to eat what they have had a hand in choosing. You and your child will both learn and grow healthier together.

The bottom line is that children will grow up regardless of the level of nutrition we as parents provide them.

How healthy they are during that process and how long they will live as a result of that nutritional foundation is what’s important.

Fungi is no fun guy!

At the risk of sharing TMI (too much information) I'm going to share a little of what happened with my hubby earlier this summer.

As you may have guessed from the title, it's not something that would come up in polite conversation, but definitely something many people have experienced, especially in the heat of the summer.

We've had a pretty good summer so far. Yes, some rain, but then again we've not had the fires and smoke of recent years either. And we are still getting our fair share of heat, which I love.

Now, for those who are working in the heat and enduring all that comes with, perhaps not so much. In addition to the obvious things such as heat exhaustion, sun stroke and dehydration, sunny days and high temperatures can also bring out rashes and/or exacerbate existing skin irritations.

Enter my hubby.

My hubby is an automotive technician and his job requires he wear a shop uniform that is not very breathable. With the heat of summer, the last few years especially, he has experienced some real discomfort in the form of red, irritated, itchy skin in a few places.

This year, things escalated and became so bad, he asked to go see a doctor while we were on holidays. I did a little research before we went and came up with the same diagnosis as the doctor.

The nasty, angry, circular red blotches under his arms, around the waistband and in the groin area was not just a heat rash. It was a fungus. Ringworm, jock itch, athletes foot, whatever you want to call it, it's all the same. Names differ only because of where the rash decides to call home. And hubby had them all.

I'm going to back up just a little as there were some signs that we missed prior to the full-blown fungus outbreak that had we caught, would have prevented his extreme discomfort.

No need for anyone else to suffer, right? OK, so here's what I found.

Skin irritations caused by fungus do show up as angry, red, circular patches. And they can also be brownish spots or patches – like a darker pigmentation in the skin - or it can even be the reverse where there are white spots, as if pigment is missing.

These discolourations are sometimes mistaken for vitiligo. Some of you might know it as the Michael Jackson disease. And this is exactly what threw me off.

Several years ago, my hubby was told he had vitiligo. Which, after he decided to stop using the toxic creams and taking meds with the “may cause cancer” side effects, we successfully eliminated using an all-natural antioxidant product.

For a few months now, I'd noticed some white spots start to come back on his hands and then darker brown patches under his arms.

They didn't bother him, nothing was raised or mole-like and because of the diagnosis years ago I assumed vitiligo had returned. Especially since we had been unable to get that antioxidant product for a few years.

I just made a point to keep an eye on it.

Vitiligo is an auto-immune disease, which is an inflammatory condition. As antioxidants help get rid of inflammation, I just took it for granted that's what it was.

After this recent bout of fungus however, I'm seeing there are other factors as well.

Fungus can be contagious – we're all told to wear flip flops in public showers and on pool decks – but it can also come from within.

Too much sugar or yeast in the body, compromised or low immune function, toxins (because they tax the immune system) can also set the stage for a fungus to develop. How does it first show up?

You guessed it, a discolouration that looks like vitiligo.

Long story short, we targeted the fungus from within as well as topically. Back to high antioxidants to bring down that angry, red inflammatory mess, as well as a few other supplements to bring up immune function along with garlic capsules and oil of oregano, both natural anti-fungal treatments.

We also used tea tree oil and oil of oregano topically (the prescription cream ran out in two days) two or three times per day.

Within one week, the rash was significantly reduced and within 10 days, the brown discolouration patches under his arms had faded almost completely away. Compared to the two to four weeks that had been suggested it would take.

What can we take away from this? Our bodies are always talking to us, giving us signs of what is not working, and clues as to what we need to do to get back into balance and restore our health.

Do not assume that, just because you've had something in the past, what you're experiencing now is the same thing. And always look inward to alleviate an outward condition.


Keep the summer weight off

Six summer food hacks to keep weight off

“With a little planning and some swapping out of some ingredients, you can enjoy all your usual tasty summer treats without the extra pounds around the middle"

It's the August long weekend and that means:

  • camping trips
  • backyard barbecue parties
  • picnics
  • organizing guest rooms for family and friends to come and stay.

And, of course, food is a big part of all of these.

In addition to the fresh, local produce our Valley is known for, ice cream, wine tastings, and s'mores also often become regular fare throughout the summer months.

In order to keep tasty summer treats on the menu and pounds off your waist, try any one or all of these six simple summer food hacks and swaps.

Make your own ice cream and frozen treats

Blending frozen, sliced bananas with cocoa powder and a little stevia or maple syrup makes a great chocolate ice cream. Swirl in some peanut butter and you've got a real taste treat.

Or blend up almond or coconut milk with fresh local berries, a dollop of Greek yogurt and freeze in a popsicle mould for healthy, delicious popsicles.

Throw in a scoop of vanilla protein powder to either recipe and your kids can literally have ice cream for breakfast and popsicles for lunch when it's too hot to cook. Not only is this healthy, and saves you money, it's something you and your kids can do together.

Eat before wine tasting

Scheduling your wine tasting to directly follow a meal. When you fuel up with clean healthy proteins like chicken, fish or grass fed beef, good fats such as avocado or olive oil and choose loads of leafy greens and vegetables as your carb, you body is better able to metabolize the alcohol and prevent fat storage.

Pack it right.

Whenever we head out on the boat, out for a hike or out of town to go camping, what we eat is determined by what we bring with us. I'm not suggesting we ditch all the traditional camping and picnic-type foods, but there are definitely ways to make them healthier.

Ditch the traditional, vacuumed sealed “tubes of mystery meat” you'll find in the grocery store in favour of a gluten free, 100% real meat smokie you'll find at your local specialty meat shops.

The elk or turkey smokies from Johnny's Meats here in Rutland are my favourite.

Drink lots of water

When we're a quart low so to speak, the body sometimes sends us a hunger signal rather than a thirst signal, causing a person to eat when they really should be drinking.

Staying hydrated will quench those signals and you won't be as likely to eat the extra calories.

Celebrate with a fruit cake

And no, not the kind topped with marzipan and famous for being re-gifted. Watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, can all be used to create a “cake” that's refreshing, delicious and helps you burn fat.

Simply removed the rind or skin from your chosen fruit (I like watermelon) and shape fruit to resemble a round layer cake. Slice as if it were a cake, pat sections dry and put back together.

Open a can (you may need more than one) of chilled, 100% pure coconut milk and scoop out the “butter”. Whip with a little vanilla and use it to “frost” the watermelon cake.

Decorate the top with fresh berries, sides with slivered almonds and serve.  Fresh, sweet and creamy, perfect for that backyard barbecue or when family comes to visit. It's also a fantastic swap for strawberry shortcake.


What can I say, if you're a camper s'mores are just part of the deal. The simplest way to decrease sugar and add a few nutrients to these iconic camping morsels is to swap out the marshmallow for a chunk of banana and opt for a chunk of organic dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

I know some people who even make their own gluten-free oatmeal cookies to replace the graham cracker as well for a total gourmet version.

Let's face it, summer gatherings are all about the food. And with so many opportunities to get together, having a few food strategies in place will help you keep off those extra pounds that you may not otherwise notice until fall.

This summer, why not try a few of these suggestions or create some of your own healthy hacks for your family?  And do consider sharing yours.

Feel free to email me your favourite hacks and swaps at [email protected] and I will post them for other to enjoy as well.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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