FIT Talk With Tania  

There's plenty you can do to help your gut function properly

Gut feeling

Most digestive and gut issues can actually be drastically reduced—and in some cases even eliminated completely—using food.

We all know the brain is in charge when it comes to keeping all our organs and systems functioning— the number of times our heart beats per minute, how many breaths we take, etc. all those things we don't even have to think about that keep us alive.

Even though the brain is constantly working to keep you alive, it doesn't do much for your overall health when it comes to your immune system. That's where your gut takes over.

Your gut is really your body's second brain. Did you know, there are more nerves that run from the gut to your brain, than from the brain to your gut? Information is constantly being sent up. And if the brain in your head is what keeps the things running that keep you alive, it would make sense to create conditions in which the gut sends up as much good information as possible, would it not? One would think so, but according to recent reports, it's not.

In October 2020, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System published a report done in 2018-2019. The NACRS's findings showed for that time period there were more than 900,000 emergency room visits for “disease of disorder of the digestive system”, which ended up costing $340 million to treat. And that was just for those conditions alone. It turned out to be more than double the cost for mental health conditions, which came in a distant second at a cost of $156 million.

Clearly the “gut feelings” many people are having aren't so good.

Symptoms like acid reflux, GERD, heartburn, IBS, diverticulitis, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, poor digestion, are all signs that things are not functioning as they should.

Let's face it, no ones likes to talk about their bodily functions. But if you're scoping out the location of the nearest bathroom every time you go somewhere new, there's a problem. And when changes aren't being made to address the root of these issues, the constant inflammation that comes with all those conditions can cause gut permeability, or “leaky gut.”

It is literally when particles that are supposed to be contained in the stomach bucket, pass through holes in the lining of the stomach and out into the body. It can cause a whole host of issues, including auto-immune disorders and some cancers among the biggies. Depression, brain fog, mood swings, weight gain, poor sleep, colitis, Crohn's Disease are also some of the things that can result.

There is good news though. Most of these symptoms and the resulting conditions can actually be drastically reduced —and in some cases even eliminated completely—using food.

Whole, single-ingredient foods put together in a way that creates balance within the body, then paired with a few natural supplements to help remove inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, balance hormones, support collagen resilience and promote nitric oxide production within the body. It creates effects that go a long way in repairing leaky gut, bringing relief and restoring comfort.

Here are three simple things you can do to get started on the path to protect and start healing your gut:

• Replace any packaged/processed foods with whole foods. Our bodies weren't designed to process chemicals, preservatives, dyes, toxins, etc., and packaged foods are loaded with them, not to mention a whole lot of gluten and sugar, all of which are inflammatory on their own, never mind several of them at once. Simple foods, simply prepared using herbs and spices are easier to digest. And you'll find after detoxing your palette, they taste better too.

• Remove all dairy products. Dairy is also inflammatory and also causes the body to retain, bloat and waste. And that only fuels your discomfort. There are a lot of great tasting non-dairy “milks” that are much better for your digestion and gut health. Almond, coconut and cashew milks are some of my favourites. You can also get cheese made from nuts as well. Read labels though, you don't want to remove dairy just to add something that has a ton of additives that will create inflammation in a different way.

• Drink lots of water. Ladies, two to three litres and gents, three to four litres per day, everyday is what’s required. And for those who say they don't like running to the bathroom, remember, that water is flushing out toxins. Better out than in right?

As your system starts to balance out, as digestion improves and elimination becomes regular, you won't be running to the bathroom as much because your body will adapt.

Depriving your body of things it needs, like water, only causes it to hang onto every little bit it gets. So be generous, drink lots, and keep your body happy.

There are many other things that you can do to supplement as well. But even just making these simple changes is a good way to start to reducing inflammation, and give your gut a chance to start healing.

Be consistent. Be patient. It won't happen overnight. But as you continue to know better and do better, you'll feel better too.

To learn more about creating a healthy gut, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

Six 'saboteurs' that prevent good health

Health 'saboteurs'

Often times many people don't realize the strategies they think will help them lose weight are actually hindering their results.

When it comes to health and healthy weight, there are six things that people often buy into when embarking on a health journey that have the exact opposite outcomes they're trying to achieve. I call these the Six Saboteurs.

Let's unpack these and see if maybe some, or all of these are what's keeping you from living your best health.

Focusing on calories

It has long been drilled into us that in order to lose weight you must count calories. The philosophy is if you can simply burn off more calories than you take in, the weight will come off. And that can work. For a time.

Any diet will work at the beginning. But will it work in the long term and will it allow you to achieve and maintain your goals for life, is the bigger question. The reason focusing on calories in instead of calories out won't give you the long-term results is because counting calories doesn't equate to nutrition or balance.

Simply put, all calories are not created equal. A grande vanilla latte from Starbucks and three ounces of grilled chicken with roasted veggies and spinach salad both have about 250 calories. Drinking the latte and skipping breakfast or lunch (or both) deprives your body of nutrients at a cellular level.

On the other hand, opting for a black coffee to go with the chicken and veg fuels your body with vital nutrients, it also creates hormonal balance, stabilizes blood sugar and allows the body to release stored fat. Which, if quality, balanced calories were selected regularly, would also turn on metabolism.

Eliminating food groups

All foods we consume can be categorized as one of three macros, protein, fat or carbohydrate.

Protein helps build and protect muscle. Fat is important for our brain, is necessary for vitamin absorption and helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar from spiking. Carbohydrates are our energy source. They are all pretty important, wouldn't you agree?

The problem is that over the years, we've been given conflicting and incorrect information. Remember back in the 1980s, we were told how bad fat was and we should eliminate it from our diet as much as possible. It was probably one of the biggest disrupters to our health in recent memory. People started looking for “fat free”, which resulted in a huge increase in consumption of processed carbs. That resulted in demonizing the carb, the next piece of bad advice.

Along with protein, we need fat and we need carbs—the good quality ones. Healthy, whole foods in the right portions create health and stimulate the body to release stored fat, whereas the processed options trigger the opposite.


Food should be seen as a source of life and health, something to enjoy not as something to restrict, limit, and deprive yourself. Life is full of occasions and celebrations and more often than not, food will be involved. The trick is to know how to indulge in a way that won't bring guilt and knock you off track from achieving your goals. Which bring us to the next point.

No plan

We've all heard the saying “no one plans to fail, they simply fail to plan.” And really it's just that simple.

Those who take the time to plan ahead, get some tips and put a few strategies in place are setting themselves up to win with their health and weight loss goals. Start the day with a balanced breakfast or protein shake. Pack a lunch and take enough healthy snacks to last until you're back home.

Some like to do a prep day for the week, others prefer to do the night before or the morning of for that day. However you decide to do it, putting this simple plan in place to have PFC (protein, fat, carb) foods with you will keep you properly fuelled and energized all day long.

Need to be perfect

I always tell my clients: “no perfect people allowed,” simply because none of us is perfect. And that's ok. Diets require perfection in order to get results. Having a program and a plan that works with your life means you get to be your perfectly imperfect self and still get results. It’s the truth.

No support

Not everyone has a supportive family or spouse and feeling like you're going it alone won't get you very far.

There are many great groups out there that you can connect with and find your tribe. Like attracts like. Healthy people are generally happy people. They know what it feels like to be sick and tired of being sick and tired and now that they are feeling so good, many just want to share what they've learned and help others feel good too.

So, stop counting calories and depriving yourself. Start following a program and make a plan. Give yourself grace when “life” happens – because it will – and find your tribe. You'll be amazed at the results you'll see and feel in just a few weeks.

If you haven't yet found your tribe, you're invited to join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

Small things done, or not done, can directly affect our health

Build a better body

People often blame age for their aches, pains, and ailments. Especially in the over-40 crowd.

Although age does play a small role, what many people don't realize is that the length of time spent doing or not doing something is often more impactful than simply biological age.

The small things we do, or not do, for our health consistently over time yield huge results. Those results can be good or they can be not so good.

Think about your body like the house you live in.

Whether you built your home or bought it after the fact, you can be fairly certain the contractor who organized the construction followed the building codes and had the proper inspections done to ensure your house would stay standing long into the future.

Unlike our bodies, there's a reason foundations for houses need to be inspected before construction is allowed to continue.

Although we can't see all that went into the foundation after the house is completed, personally–and I'm sure many of you would agree with me–I'd prefer to have a little more time, attention and fortification put into that foundation at the beginning so as to avoid possible issues later.

It might cost a little more but in the long run it's worth it. It's just common sense.

The stronger the foundation, the more care and attention put into the construction, the better quality build and the longer your home will last. Same with your body.

Unlike your home however, “construction” within our bodies isn't finite.

We are all still growing and changing everyday—on the inside.

Sorry to burst your bubble, all my vertically challenged readers but reaching the top shelf in the kitchen is still going to require a step stool—or getting up on the counter like I do. Maintaining agility with age is a good thing after all. But I digress.

So once the concrete in your home's foundation is set, there's no option for adjustments. Within your body however, cells are forever dying off and replenishing. Some replenish in a matter of hours, some take weeks or even months depending on what part of the body you're looking at. All this to say, with new cells growing constantly, there is room to restructure and create a stronger foundation.

Our bodies were designed to heal and this continuous regeneration of cells is how it happens, providing, of course, that we put in what's needed to address any “cracks” in the foundation and create an environment for all those new cells to thrive. A big part of that is being consistent.

Back to the house analogy for a minute. Say the framer didn't take the time to square up that 14-ft two-by-four at the one side of the room and it was out just a smidge. That small amount is compounded and at the other end, that board is visibly out of whack. Small things consistently, over time, make a huge difference.

There are six components to optimal health—stress, sleep, water, nutrition, exercise, and supplements. When these are all addressed, health happens. That being said, everyone should start where they're at. Pick one area to start with rather than trying to address everything at once. I can tell you right now, it's not sustainable and a lot of why most people give up.

Just like your home took months to build, you won't see big changes overnight. But you will see them if you're consistent.

Also, think about the one percent.

The one percent mindset means you commit to doing something one percent better for your health tomorrow than you did today.

Maybe you turn off the television an hour earlier at night and get more sleep, or maybe you replace that third cup of coffee with a few glasses of water. Perhaps you make a point of sitting down to a PFC (balanced protein, fat and carb) breakfast rather than hitting the drive-through on the way to work.

You might decide to park at the back of every parking lot to get more steps in or you might actually take those vitamins that have been sitting in the cupboard for months. You get the idea.

Removing inflammation, improving circulation, restoring health, reversing disease, improving energy, getting rid of aches and pains, etc. won't happen over night.

But as long as you commit to consistency and one percent, it will happen.

You'll create a reset environment where healthy cells replicate, your foundation gets repaired and you'll start to see and feel health happen.

I'm healthier and stronger in my 50s than I was in my 20s and I believe that positive changes can be made at any age.

I challenge you to a reset.

Today, choose one thing, commit to one percent, be consistent and see where it leads. After all, if you don't take care of your body, where will you live?

Join Tania in a free 21-Day Reset starting Nov.1. For info and to register, go to www.fuelignitethrive.com


How eat right and enjoy your food this Thankgiving

Thankful for second helpings

This Thanksgiving, keep your top button done up and burn fat through the holidays when you have second helpings.

I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying fall this year. The colours are stunning, the sun stills shines and last week I was still outside without a jacket. After smoke from the wildfires once again cut our summer short, the blue skies and sunshine combined with the bursts of colour around the city fall are welcome. And, of course, those beautiful autumn colours always bring with it a cornucopia of produce ready to enjoy. Here in the Okanagan, harvest time is always a recipe for something good.

The time between October and February is the time of year where, if a person was going to let his or her health slide resulting in a little (or a lot) of weight gain, it would be here. There are a number of things that factor in and contribute—fewer daylight hours creating a tendency to spend more time indoors with less physical activity; temperatures drop dictating we swap out bathing suits and shorts for bulky sweaters and jeans; and then of course, there are all the holiday meals. I refer to this time of year as the season of food.

October has Thanksgiving and Halloween–both savoury and sweet treat options here. And for all the snow birds flying south, November offers up a second Thanksgiving celebrating with our US friends. November also kickstarts all manner of Christmas parties, and festive gatherings that continue through December and right up until Christmas day brunch, lunch, dinner or, let's face it, some of us partake in all three! Any one or all of these then often get repeated to some degree just one week later as we ring in the New Year. Feeling the urge to undo that top button already?

So with the impending season of food looming upon us, and the helpless feeling of how to stay on track amidst the gravy, candy and pie, while armed with body camouflaging sweat pants, sweaters and boyfriend jeans... well you get the picture. This festive time of year could easily be changed to “feast-ive.” I've even heard people not-so-jokingly comment they're putting on that extra layer for winter. And wardrobe has nothing to do with it.

Then, of course there's a bit of a panic in spring when the sweaters get put away and people start to wonder if they're going to fit into last year's shorts. It can be a very real source of stress for some people— for some, even to the point of foregoing family gatherings to avoid temptation.

And with all the isolation and separation that has happened over the past almost two years, getting together with family, friends and enjoying that atmosphere of joy and thankfulness is a must for mental health.

So, if this has been you in the past, know that you can embrace Thanksgiving and the “feast-ive” season this year.

Fill your cup by supping with those you love, and keep that top button from bursting by having second helpings. Yep, that's right, seconds.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally what happens at almost every celebratory dinner, dinner party, holiday feast, or indulgent food-fest of some description, is people head into it like they're never going to eat again. They starve themselves all day, sometimes limit food the day before even, and sit down at the table ravenous and viewing the meal as a challenge.

After all, ya gotta eat to make up for what you sacrificed all day right? Wrong. They load up their plates and power through, often times eating dessert when they're already feeling uncomfortable and had to loosen top buttons and undo belts several mouthfuls ago. Sound familiar?

If you were to approach the meal with the mindset, not that you'll be having less or that you would somehow miss out, but that you get to have this deliciousness twice rather than just once, chances are you'll be less likely to stuff yourself and eat only until satisfied. Have the turkey, protein is a must.

Have the veggies, those are the carbs you want. A spoonful of mash potatoes or stuffing with a little gravy rather than a mountain of potatoes surrounded by a moat of gravy. In choosing smaller amounts of everything you'll come away from the table satisfied, comfortable and with your pants properly fastened.

You'll also be less likely to lose the rest of the day crashed on the couch sleeping off a food coma. Three to four hours later, you'll start to feel hungry again because your body was able to metabolize the amount you put in and not store it as fat. And as we need to fuel our bodies every three to four hours, bring on the second helpings.

By choosing two smaller meals three hours apart, you're effectively using food to stabilize blood sugar and balance hormones. Which in turn keeps your metabolism turned on and burning fat rather than storing it. You can even further refine your results by choosing sweet potatoes over white, steamed veggies and/or salad greens over dinner rolls and stuffing, sweeten your cranberry sauce with stevia rather than sugar, and opt for sparkling water with lemon or lime over alcohol.

The bottom line is always, the better we are at stabilizing blood sugar, the more efficient our bodies become at burning fat. And let's face it, who doesn't want to enjoy holiday meals and burn fat at the same time?

If you're looking for more great recipes, tips and strategies on how to use food to create balance in your body and burn fat, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

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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