A Meal Plan = Affirmative Action in the Politics of Nutrition

              Thrive Nutrition Practice: Meal Planning Tool

              Thrive Nutrition Practice: Meal Planning Tool


Let me explain…

The Meal Plan is the fastest way for you to make positive changes to your diet in a sustainable way because it addresses the single biggest challenge for healthy eating:


I don’t have time to pack my lunch.  I don’t have time to make dinner from scratch because I get home late.  I don’t have time to have breakfast at home.

These are the battle cries of the nutritionally disenfranchised.   It’s hard to push back on the “lack of time” argument because we can all relate.

However, just like little girls have to see women leaders to believe they can be one, so do aspiring healthy eaters have to see their healthy food choices in order to make them a reality.  So really – a meal plan is like affirmative action for nutrition.

Before I started to meal plan, I would:

  • go to the supermarket 2-4x per week because I never had the ingredients I wanted in the fridge;
  • spend WAY TOO MUCH MONEY at the supermarket because I’d shop hungry or didn’t plan ahead so that I could buy online more cheaply;
  • skip breakfast because I could never figure out in time what I FELT LIKE eating;
  • have a kind of disgusting combination of my kids’ leftover plus whatever else I could scramble in 10min for dinner;
  • feel bummed and bored with food because I felt like had the same foods ALL THE TIME. 

If this sounds like you, you need get jiggy with a meal plan.  One 10-minute session a week can help you eat better, promote variety in your diet, save you money and get you excited about food again!  Plus – all the time you get back from countless trips to the supermarket, you can re-invest in making some of your meals from scratch.

Here are my top two app-based meal planners, which help you keep recipes, meal plan and build a shopping list from the plan:  www.plantoeat.com and www.pepperplate.com.  Pepperplate is free and Plantoeat is just under US$5 a month.

If you can spend the time to populate these apps with healthy recipes and are super organized, these can work really well for you because they help generate a shopping list for you too, which is super useful.

However, there is no meal planning app that I know of that helps you create nutritionally-rich meal plans.  I mean –  you can have the best meal plan template but if populate it with CocoPuffs, peanut butter & jam sandwiches and mac&cheese — you’re not exactly affirming positive action in the nutrition department.

So, I’ve created a template for building nutritionally-rich meals, which I’d like to share with you today.


  • is founded on maximising the inclusion of Thrive’s SLEEPLOVEPOOP foods:  high quality protein, fresh fruits&veggies, healthy fats & fibre-rich foods;
  • works to help you build healthy meals and make healthy food choices if you’re going out;
  • helps you commit to achievable weekly goals so that you feel really good about what you’ve eaten by the end of the week.  This is really important because the biggest enemy of nutrition is perfection.

It is also FREE  but you will have to email me for it.  I’ve already filled out a week for you, so you can see how to use it.  I’ve also included healthy lunch ideas for children. 

My little gift for you during LOVE month because healthy eating is not rocket science.

It’s just about having a plan.


Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice.  Please join her Facebook group “Thrive Nutrition Practice” for daily articles, recipes, promotions on professional grade supplements and upcoming workshops.



SLEEP: Coffee Does Not Wake You Up

                      Thrive Nutrition Practice: Ditch the Coffee

                      Thrive Nutrition Practice: Ditch the Coffee


Imagine your child woke up in the morning and dryly grumbled:

“Can’t function until I’ve had my coffee, mom.”

Would you:

a) send your child to bed earlier the next evening thinking that perhaps the solution is more sleep?


b) say, “Absolutely honey. Here’s your cup.”  

I can’t think of a single mother who would encourage a coffee habit with her child because we know in our gut that coffee is not the answer.

Dr Michael Breus is a psychologist and insomnia expert who has conducted a load of research on sleep.  His research reveals:

Drinking coffee first thing in the morning does not wake you up, make you alert or give you an energy boost. All it does, according to science, is raise your tolerance for caffeine so that you need to drink more and more of it to feel any effects at all.

In fact, he says that the worst time to have a cup of coffee is within two hours of waking OR within six hours of bedtime, especially if you have sleep problems.

So what DOES coffee actually do?

  • Coffee suppresses natural melatonin production by interfering with your natural circadian rhythms which govern your sleep cycle.
  • Coffee puts our body in “fight or flight” mode.  It gives us that morning boost by pumping up our stress hormone cortisol.  The problem with waking up with a cortisol injection is that we are forcing a spike in blood sugar, which needs to be mitigated by an insulin response.  This is bad news for post-natal mamas who have stopped breastfeeding and are trying to shift their baby weight, especially if their morning breakfast is plain oatmeal, cereal or toast with no accompanying protein.  These grain-based breakfasts break down in your body into simple sugars, exacerbating that blood sugar spike created by your coffee.  Whatever sugar your body doesn’t need is packaged into fat by your liver.
  •  A body in “fight or flight” is also not focused on resting and digesting.  As a result, digestion is compromised and all those beautiful nutrients you are hopefully taking in with breakfast will not be optimally digested and absorbed, resulting in nutritional deficiencies, which affect everything from your mood to immunity levels.
  •  Coffee is a diuretic and that is a problem first thing in the morning for TWO major reasons:
    • FIRST:  We lose about a litre of water over the course of the night through perspiration and exhalation.  So, by the time we wake up we are dehydrated. Diuretics like coffee and black tea are thus the polar opposite of what our body requires to actually kickstart all of its daily functions. Mamas who wake up and feel nauseous, please have a look at how much water you are drinking throughout the day and how you are using coffee.
    • SECOND: As a diuretic, coffee is also encouraging your body to pee out all of your water soluble vitamins, like your B-vitamins and Vitamin C.  Those of you who’ve been reading my posts for a while know that these are exactly the vitamins our adrenal glands need to cope with stress.  So you’ve reduced your body’s ability to cope with stress even before you get to work.
  • Coffee also affects iron absorption in your stomach and particularly your kidneys ability to retain calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals.    All bad news for post-natal mamas who have to be extra cautious about iron levels to replenish blood lost and maintain energy levels.  Also bad news for mamas with constipation and sleep problems as magnesium is a crucial mineral needed to maintain regularity and ensure restful sleep.

In short – not only does coffee sabotage your natural melatonin production – it also dehydrates you, depletes you of much needed vitamins and minerals and impairs your body’s ability to cope with stress.

But if not coffee — then what?  

And herein lies the difficulty.  If you’ve read this and gone, “There is no way on earth I’m going to be physically capable of surviving the day without coffee” — then you are most likely so sleep deprived that coffee is your saviour.  And so, you are caught in a vicious cycle – too tired to give up coffee.  Too wired in the evening to fall asleep before 10.30pm and get those golden 8 hours of sleep. 

(And by the way — if you are sleeping 8 hours daily and still wake up feeling like you need a coffee, that is not normal and you might want to consider getting a blood panel to check iron levels, thyroid & adrenal function).

Here are a few ideas to help you break the sleep-caffeine cycle:

  • Dr Breus recommends drinking a big glass of water in front of a window first thing upon rising to hydrate your body and stop the production of melatonin so that you stop feeling sleepy.  He also suggests you follow with a tepid shower to help your feel invigorated.
  • Have a protein-fueled breakfast in the morning, like my Adrenal Friendly Breakfast.  This helps give your body energy, healthy fats & fibre to help you combat stress effectively, regulate your hormones, boost immunity and keep you regular.
  • Try having a cup of maca instead of coffee to boost your energy levels.


Put all the ingredients in a small pot and whiz with your hand-held blender.  Then heat until hot and put it in your thermos to go.  So energizing and warming!  And for half the price of a Starbucks (I’ve done the math).

And did you know that maca….

  • is rich in vitamin B, C, and E — all of which help you combat stress;
  • has plenty of calcium, zinc, iron & magnesium to boost immunity & help with sleep;
  • reduces anxiety;
  • improves thyroid function;


Sleep, sex & stress management – all in a drink that won’t give you a hangover.

Mamas – it is totally within your reach to break the cycle of fatigue.  Nutrition can help you bust that rut.  And who knows what else you might have energy for before bedtime!


Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice.  Please join her Facebook group “Thrive Nutrition Practice” for daily articles, recipes, promotions on professional grade supplements and upcoming workshops.


Uncontrollable Sugar Cravings: Why, oh why do I have them?

Uncontrollable Sugar Cravings: Why, oh why do I have them?

When I was little I loved watching Sesame Street and my favourite character was Cookie Monster. Years later, my infatuation for chocolate chip cookies fully matured, I often felt like it was only shame that kept me from demolishing a bag of Chips Ahoy with the same destructive flare as Cookie Monster.