Self-Care and the Prevention of PPD


The following is a guest post by Isabel F. William, Body&Mind Balance Consultant. Lover of literature and philosophy, runner, and Tai Chi master. She believes that sometimes it is just enough to enjoy a really good book, smooth jazz and a cup of coffee to travel somewhere else.


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common mood disorder among women after giving birth. Although many women experience sadness and moodiness after childbirth, this period of “baby blues” passes after several days. PPD, on the other hand, is characterized by feelings of anxiety, despair, sadness and exhaustion that interfere with a woman’s ability to perform everyday tasks and take care of her baby and herself. In order for a woman to be diagnosed with PPD, the symptoms need to last at least for two consecutive weeks. Since this is a serious disorder that can result even in suicide, it’s of the utmost importance that mothers educate themselves about PPD and its prevention. It’s important to stress that some women are at greater risk of developing PPD, especially if they’ve already experienced it during their first pregnancy or had a traumatic experience during pregnancy. In such cases, it’s essential that these women take all the necessary measures to ensure their well-being.

Nurture your relationship with your partner

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Staying connected with your partner is crucial for your mental, physical and emotional health. A strong, affectionate and open relationship with your partner will give you a sense of security and support that will help both of you enter parenthood prepared and emotionally stable. It has been shown that a poor relationship with a partner is a major factor in antenatal anxiety which is connected to postnatal mood disorders. Thus, it’s essential that you nurture and strengthen your relationship, talk openly or even try couple’s counselling if you’re experiencing serious relationships issues. Remember – you’re stronger as a couple.

Try to get more sleep

Sleep deprivation is one of the factors that can cause PPD, so it’s essential that you get enough quality sleep, especially after giving birth. Being sleep-deprived and exhausted will only intensify your negative feelings. You should take naps throughout the day and try to go to bed early. Don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends to look after your baby while you get some rest. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby.

Do some light exercises

Exercise is proven to relieve stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and putting you in a more positive mood, which is why you should try to be as active as possible. You can start by taking walks with your baby and soaking in the fresh air. Later on, you can gradually start jogging, cycling or doing yoga. Not only will this help you relieve stress, but it will also help you get in shape, which will boost your self-confidence. Studies have found that exercising regularly for 16 weeks is as effective as antidepressant treatment in inactive adults who suffer from mild to moderate depression.

Have a healthy diet


A healthy diet is crucial for your well-being, especially after giving birth when you can barely find time to eat. However, this is the time when you need to provide your body with all the necessary nutrients in order to eliminate the risk of depression or anxiety. In addition, unhealthy diet can weaken your immune system and, consequently, make you more susceptible to diseases. You should stay hydrated throughout the day and eat healthy and balanced meals. There are super foods for moms that are easy to make yet rich in nutrients. You should always have a healthy recipe within your reach and make time to prepare healthy meals.

Consult professionals


If you feel more depressed and negative than usual, or you believe that you have certain risk factors for developing PPD, you should consider consulting a professional counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. They can suggest different books you can read to learn more about PPD, its symptoms and treatment. A mental health professional may even suggest a specific type of therapy depending on the general practice in a particular country, such as psychodynamic therapy in Sydney or supportive psychotherapy in Spain.

Another possible method of depression treatment is the application of antidepressants. While studies have been researching the effectiveness of antidepressants in the prevention of postpartum depression, the results are still inconclusive. Antidepressants might be effective in preventing PPD if the same type of medication has previously proven to be successful in treating depression episodes, but there’s no firm evidence. In addition, there are certain concerns regarding the effects of antidepressants on a new-born baby, which is why many mothers refuse to take them while breastfeeding.

Educating yourself about PPD and taking these preventive measures can help you ensure your and your baby’s well-being.  


Nutrient Rich Vegan Foods for Physical Health

The following is a guest post by life coach Jane Sandwood.


According to statistics, veganism has seen a surge in popularity over the last two years and, as of 2016, 25 percent of Canadians were trying to reduce the amount of red meat they eat. In fact, the rise in veganism is thought to be behind the overall decline in the consumption of milk in Canada. Why has veganism risen in popularity? It may be due to the scrumptious recipes and cleaner lifestyle that it provides. So which foods or recipes should you include to reap the full benefits of a vegan diet?

Cardiovascular Foods

According to studies, vegan diets tend to be richer in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folic acid and fiber but lower in cholesterol and saturated fats. A leading cause of cardiovascular disease is obesity, therefore a vegan diet could help combat this. Research shows that vegans had 44 percent lower levels of cholesterol than their meat-eating counterparts as well as a lower Body Mass Index. Adding grains, soy, nuts and lots of fruit and vegetables to your diet can provide protection against heart problems in later life.

Blood Sugar

Research shows that veganism could have potential benefits for those with Type 2 diabetes. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Medicine showed that half of patients with diabetes no longer required insulin after changing to a full vegan diet. Some did not need insulin at all and most did not experience the sharp, painful symptoms of the condition. The patients were also required to participate in frequent exercise. Regular activity will help combat obesity, a leading cause of diabetes. Stock up on foods rich in magnesium, a blood sugar reducing agent to help prevent diabetes. Lots of leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds will provide this nutrient.

Bone Health

A 2015 study published in Arthritis showed that the bone health of several patients with osteoarthritis significantly improved with a change to a plant-based diet. The energy levels and physical abilities were greatly improved after weekly self-assessments. Traditional omnivores commonly obtain their source of calcium from dairy products but vegans are able to obtain calcium via kale, okra, spring greens,chia seeds and almonds. Alternatively, a calcium fortified plant milk can provide calcium for healthier bones.

It appears that veganism is the way to go for those who are considering changing to a healthier, cleaner lifestyle. Although the diet provides lots of nutritional benefits, remember to supplement your diet with sources which normally come from meat such as iron and Vitamin B12 for blood health.   

How to Build a Meal Plan That "Goes Both Ways"

The following post was originally published on Mindfully Edible.

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Eating a plant-based diet while living with omnivores can be...challenging.

Putting the politics aside, one of the obvious difficulties is the need to make completely separate meals - often that means double prep and cook time, more time stressing in the grocery store, and way too many dishes to clean afterwards.


Actually, veggie-friendly folks can happily live amongst omnivores - if you know how to build the right kind of meal plan. I'm about to show you how, and then give you a recipe collection + dinner meal plan to get you off to a successful start living with that disgusting meat-hungry murderer of a partner of yours! (Ha...sorry - couldn't resist, and I'm just kidding!) #EatWhatMakesYouThrive


I'm taking about tacos, collard wraps, cabbage leaf bowls, and other delicious creations you make on the spot at the table - immediately before indulgence. It's easy to separate the "protein" (meat vs. not) filling in this sort of set-up. For instance, I love these vegan eggplant tacos which make use of a deliciously unique walnut taco meat (but of course you can use "regular" ground beef as the taco meat instead).


I loveeee the convenience of having a few mason jar salads prepped in the fridge for a quick and easy 'just shake and go' meal - to take to the office or if you're in a hurry and on the go after work. Simply top with a protein of choice the morning of - this can be a boiled egg, some pulled chicken, marinated tofu cubes, or anything else your head and heart fancies!


Have you ever considered stirring a scoop of protein powder into a savoury soup to take it to the next "main course" level? Now you will. I like mixing in fermented vegan proteins+ (unflavoured) from Genuine Health - making sure the soup is only just slightly warm and not hot, as too much heat will kill all the probiotic benefits that this rad protein powder offers! 

Of course, boring-poring meat-eaters could just top with like...chicken or something. 


This is an easy one. Make the full veggie-packed vegan recipe and then feel free to throw in some additional protein - vegetarian or not, in the final moments of cooking. This cabbage fried quinoa is a complete meal on it's own, or you can top it with bacon or some baked edamame for a bit of crunch.



Pizza. No matter how you top it (literally) - it's the best ever, and makes everyone happy. #Truth

How about you encourage your meat-eating partner-in-crime to dabble in the art of going dairy-free by trying the following vegan pizza? If pepperoni is their vice, then it can quickly & easily be added on top of this already delicious creation. 


Similar to the DIY taco idea, stuffing things like sweet peppers or potatoes are a great way to create a delicious meal (or two) that SEEMS that same for both eaters alike - all you have to mix twice are the fillings. Beans or TVP can be swapped out for pulled or minced meats, keeping the rest of the seasonings and ingredients identical. Of course, whatever you "stuff" remains the same as well (so you can feel like total #twinsies).


Tasteless bean burgers need to step aside and not insult our meat-loving friends...but rather we need to welcome them into our heavenly plant based world with juicy tasty patties that don't suck. Here are my top 3 recommendations that won't induce a lecture on why "there's a reason we've eaten meat for 'X' number of years"...bla bla bla #shutup.

Zucchini Powerhouse Burger

Zucchini Powerhouse Burger

Umami Chickpea Burger

Umami Chickpea Burger

World's Best Veggie Burger

World's Best Veggie Burger

And with that, I invite you to leave your differences at the doorstep. While it was hard for me to suggest "top with bacon" (I LOVE PIGS!) on some of the meals I suggest in the following meal plan, let's face it: you can't change the world overnight. Sometimes circumstances call for eating with folks that are simply stuck-in-their-ways. My first choice and recommendation is to offer and encourage them to join you in a delicious plant powered dish, but if they are absolutely NOT having it, then let's still be friends and eat together!

I hope the following resources I share from Meal Garden help to make that your reality :)

And here's the recipe collection to go alongside it...

And here's the recipe collection to go alongside it...

Meal Garden Celebrates Going Channel-Forward

Digital health & meal management app moves from static to constantly updating content inspired by users.

Release date: Sept 13th, 2017

Toronto, ON:  Charging forward towards its goal of simplifying the complex world of healthy eating, this month marks the launch of ‘Channels’ - a new and refined way to access healthy eating information through the Meal Garden platform.

After spending years working directly with thousands of customers and health experts to optimize the way users interact with Meal Garden core capabilities: automatic health analysis, recipe management, meal planning, automated grocery lists and customized notifications, they have launched the most ambitious components of the system yet: full practitioner support and ‘Channels’ - a new way to simply healthy eating for the busy world.

The drivers behind these components were simple, says Kiki Athanassoulias, Vice President, Customer Success at Meal Garden: "What I’ve realized through my conversations with people is they really want coaching and direction in addition to choice and flexibility, so we set to work on making that a reality in Meal Garden."

Coincidentally, years of partnering with Dieticians, Naturopathic Doctors, Nutritionists, and other Health Coaching Experts made fulfilling such requests the next logical step in Meal Garden’s development path. In order to match the needs of a diverse user base (from new moms to people living with Diabetes, to fitness-focused millennials), specially curated 'Channels' were launched. Each of these separately managed hubs include daily content updates like new recipes, videos, articles, and of course, nutritionally-optimized meal plans.

With less than five thousand users, the Meal Garden community has a ways to go to fulfill its goal as the ‘go-to’ marketplace for healthy eating, but consistent growth and the fact that no real efforts to market the tool have been executed yet, give the team confidence that they are on the right track.

"I’m very happy with the success stories being shared by our users," said Vlad Chernenko, Co-Founder of Meal Garden. "Some have saved hundreds a month on groceries, others have lost weight in a healthy way, many are able to easily feed children with dietary restrictions - certainly better than having to resort to buying pizza on the way home from work!"

Using September (the new “start of the year”) as the perfect month to introduce capabilities to the platform that connects those who want to eat better with those that are qualified to help, Meal Garden continues to be the digital marketplace for all things diet and nutrition.

About Meal Garden: Meal Garden is a mobile-optimized web-based tool that empowers users to easily find and create recipes and meal plans. All of this comes with full nutritional analysis thanks to its comprehensive health algorithm.  Meal Garden looks forward to participating on the ALPHA startup track at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal this November, 2017

What's One Thing Impossible to Agree on? Units of Measurement.

Metric vs. imperial --> if there's one thing that continues to confuse just about anyone and everyone it's units of measurement! This can cause obvious confusion and annoyance when it comes to recipes, and thus how your grocery list turns out.

What if there was an easy way to customize your grocery list to make sense to YOU - each and every time?

Sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't.

I'll admit, as the Director of Community at Meal Garden, I get several emails asking about the units of measurement - specially as it relates to our automatic grocery list generator.

"I don't understand my doesn't make sense to have oats in grams...I want it to say the amount in CUPS - that's what's on the recipe, and that's what I can easily visualize when I'm in the store shopping."


And guess what? I agree.

So, I went straight to our Founder of Meal Garden, Vlad, and told him: CHANGE IT!

Vlad, being an intelligent (although often stubborn) guy, explained that oats, for example, are not sold in "cups" but rather in grams. Hence, that is why they are listed as such in the grocery list.

Okay, so maybe he's right...


BUT STILL! I personally don't "visualize" my oats in grams...10 grams...100 grams...I really don't know what either of those amounts look like. However embarrassing it may be, I have no clue.

Cups, on the other hand, is easy for me to interpret and "eyeball".


Apparently, I need not cry, as we already have that option in Meal Garden...


Easily enough, all it takes is changing the unit of measurement --> directly on the list!

BUT WAIT: I don't want to have to do this every time! #Annoying

Oh, Vlad thought of that too...

Apparently, every time you change the unit of measurement for a particular item on your list (for instance oats in cups), Meal Garden will REMEMBER that, and use that same measurement for that particular item EACH AND EVERY TIME --> EACH AND EVERY WEEK. No need to repeat the extremely hard and daunting task of clicking on your preferred measurement. Do it once, and you're done for life.

I guess maybe I should stop complaining now.

How about you?! Did you know how easy our grocery list makes it to SIMPLIFY your life (or at least units of measurement...)? Looking forward to your thoughts!

MPME Part Four: The Finale, Putting it all Together

The finale is here.

Part four of our series will cover the entire process of meal planning. Are you ready?

We’ve got our ingredient list generated from Meal Garden and completed our trip to the grocery store, hopefully, we have purchased everything we needed for each recipe for the coming week (isn’t the portion size option handy to make adjustments?).

Now, the hard easy part, preparing the actual food and meals. Here comes the barrage of pro tips coming at you.

If you currently have all plastic food containers, don’t be afraid.

Slowly, one by one, switch them out.

Don’t stress if you have predominately plastics, but if you even have a few pieces of glass containers keep them.

Evaluate your food containers.

If you own a glass equivalent of a plastic piece, chuck the plastic one.

There is no need to hoard a million and one food containers. You are not preparing to pack food for a famine (unless you actually are).

Evaluate which containers you have never or rarely ever used, chuck them out.

Once you have cleaned and cleared out the useless or unused plastic containers, take an inventory of your glass and even metal containers (if you have any).

Based off a two to three people household there should be at least one extra-large containers, at least one to two large containers, two medium sized containers and a number small containers and extra-small containers for various food storage uses.

Mason jars are also incredible useful and versatile for sorts of storage needs.

If space is limited, it is not necessary to have enough containers for each person and every week of the week.

One good quality sealed glass container is perfect for each person, for each meal packed is perfect. It’s all about putting it together.

Cobb Salad in a Jar (umm… amazing use for mason jars!)

Cobb Salad in a Jar (umm… amazing use for mason jars!)

For all raw vegetables that you will be consumed raw.

Take them out of the plastic bags and wash them gently, dry thoroughly and store them all in an extra-large sealed glass container.

If you are chopping the vegetables, store those in a separate glass container. If making salads for the week, a pro tip is to prepare the dry salad ahead of time and toss in a large glass container.

This way, in the morning or the night before, you can simply pack the salad as needed. For all roasted/cooked vegetables, store in a tightly sealed large glass container as well.

Store all starchy vegetables or cooked grains in a medium sized container as they often do not need as much room.

Lastly, store all your proteins in small or medium sized containers.

Separate for different proteins to not mix flavors.

Make ahead all sauces and salad dressings so they are ready to go as well!

I personally final small to medium sized mason jars work wonders for this part.

When cooking the food, strategize what takes the longest to make and start with that. If you are roasting or baking multiple things, start with the longest to cook and work your way to the shortest.

When packing food, the night before or in the morning, take out your lunch/dinner container and fit all the pieces of your meal in (just like a puzzle).

Ideally, pack in an insulated bag with a cold pack to keep the temperature of the food cool and prevent bacteria from growing.

There you have it folks, meal planning made simple.

Congratulations on completing the series with us!

Send us a photo or comment with your meal planning endeavors!

MPME Part Three: Macronutrient Breakdown

We are all essentially made up of food, made from the fuel we eat, as they are what contribute to every. single. function. in the body.

There is no way of getting around it. The popular saying in nutrition goes something along the lines of: “If you won’t put a subpar gasoline into a Lamborghini in fear of damaging the engine or killing the performance, why would you feed yourself subpar fuel?”.

Thinking of nutrition in those terms, how do you think your performance will be? How well will you function? What effects do you think it will have on you in the long run?

We will be covering the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) that make up our food, their importance and use in the body, and their role in your diet. Let’s get started.

Why is it important that we pay attention to the various macronutrients in our nutrition? Why should I care?

It is importance because all three macronutrients serve crucial functions for different organ systems. Without an adequate intake of all three, we can start to experience several symptoms or a general sense of unwell.

Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Veggies

Firstly, we pay some attention to protein.

You might have heard it on both sides with protein, some people prescribe to a high protein diet and some to a lower protein diet. Both sides are right AND wrong.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition.

Each person has their own individual biochemical needs.

However, we know for sure that protein plays a key role in many functions and organ systems in the body.

Protein deficiencies can lead to poor wound healing, blood sugar imbalance, food cravings, low or impaired immunity, muscle atrophy, brittle or weak hair/skin/nails, and lack of mental clarity. Some pretty important stuff, right?

Next are healthy fats.

Fats have received some bad rep in the past and everyone feared fat, in the past number of years it has swung completely the other way.

Many people were subscribing to an extremely high-fat diet (Ketogenic, Atkins, etc.). Again, to each body, its own.

However. To highlight the importance of fat.

When I say fats, I am not referring to canola oil, vegetable oil, or margarine.

I am referring to (the well-loved) coconut oil, avocado oil, organic grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, and flax oil. As well as wild caught fish and seafoods.

Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 (EPA and DHA) and omega-6 are a necessity in the body as they, most importantly affect brain function and heart health.

The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K all require fat for and without it, you will not be able to absorb these essential vitamins. Some symptoms are: dry skin and skin problems, cognitive issues, increased inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, and hormone imbalances.

The fats to avoid are the trans fats, which are often found in heavily processed, refined or deep-fried foods.


Lastly, carbohydrates.

They are important because they are the body’s preferred source of energy. As such they are an important aspect of our nutrition as everything we do requires energy.

They are also the brain’s primary source of energy.

However, we need to highlight the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates.

Ideally, we want to consume predominately complex carbohydrates, which are vegetables, beans, and whole grains (if you do not have a gluten-intolerance). These break down in the body far slower than simple carbohydrates do, found mostly in fruits, milk, candies, sugar, and soft drinks.

The slower breakdown is important because of our insulin levels that manage our blood sugar. Taking your body through a sugary rollercoaster ride is never a good idea.

Food is important stuff.

The food molecules help fuel every bit of our body, our organ systems, and its functions.

Paying attention to what you eat is paramount to your health.

Take a look at the lightbulb icon in your menu page on Meal Garden, you’ll find a nifty little link that shows you your nutrient breakdown for all your meals!

This way you can be mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, and what nutrients you are getting!

Behold, upcoming is the last installment of our meal prep series. Putting it all together and how we’re going to store everything! Pro tip bombardments coming your way.

Practitioners Speak Out: Why It's Tricky To Get Patients To Stick To Their Commitments

Nutritional practitioners of all kinds (RDs, RHNs, CNPs, NDs, Integrative Nutritional Therapists, etc.) arguably all share the same goal: to help their clients master their health by implementing healthier eating habits.

From what to how to when to why. 

Unfortunately, it's often easier in theory than in practice.

I interviewed a variety of practitioners (some of which wished to remain anonymous) about WHY it's seemingly impossible to get patients to maintain the commitments they initially walk into their office with. 

How on earth are practitioners supposed to "hold their clients' hands" through every step in the healthy eating journey, if they're only seeing them (in-person or virtually) on just a weekly or biweekly basis?

For some clients family support is an issue. They are committed, however the family is not supportive and it becomes too much work to prepare multiple type of meals for each family member. Some clients will come in just because their doctor asked them to come. There is no “buy in” from the client and that is a huge hurdle. For others it is the “all or none” mentality. Hence keeping them on track is a challenge.
— Alka Chopra, RD & CDE

Good intentions aside, it's practice that makes perfect - shifting mindsets and changing bad habits. It was interesting to note how conscious nutritional practitioners are about external forces beyond their control.

Let’s me start by saying, Change is challenging and takes time. With my patients, a lot of external factors that I can’t control are what get in the way of progress (like distance, transportation costs and time off work/school). If we are able to work around these outside barriers, I’d say the top activity barriers that can become major hindrances are perceived lack of time, low self confidence and social and family influence. At the end of day, what works is consistent check ins, small sustainable goals to help them feel successful and support from family and close friends.
— Allie Lougheed, Exercise Therapist at The Hospital for Sick Children

Of course, working at Meal Garden, I put a lot of faith in the transformational power that meal planning and related tools and resources can provide for those looking to get on a path to optimal health. With that said, I've had frank discussions with various RDs, who claim that offering clients custom meal plans - or even spending time on creating any sort of "menu plans" is simply NOT for them...

Here are some thoughts from a few Toronto-based RDs I chatted with:

  • "I no longer build meal plans for clients because I’ve found that at the end of the day, people just don’t follow them!"

  • "Often times clients’ don’t like at least some of the recipes you’ve chosen for them."

  • "Clients want (or think they want) a custom-made meal plan 'just for them' - not a standard meal plan they can purchase/download off my site for example. With that said, once they’ve been given this 'special' meal plan they claim they require, they usually make excuses as to why it doesn’t really work perfectly for them."

  • "It’s just not an efficient use of my time; for one-on-one consultations I charge $150/hr, and creating a 2-week meal plan for a client (including all necessary recipes and grocery lists) takes anywhere from 5-6 hours of my time. Yet no one wants to pay more than say, $20 for a meal plan, when in reality if I were to price it fairly it should really be around $750, but that would seem ridiculous!"

  • "I’d rather teach my clients the underlying skills so that they can make their own meal plans and make better nutritional choices for themselves."

  • "For me, education has outweighed specifically detailed instructions in terms of time efficiency and overall effectiveness when it comes to the success of my patients."

I also had the chance to speak with a RD who works specifically with senior patients, who openly shared the struggles they come across at their own practice: 

At the end of the day, “fast” results are not seen and thereby my clients tend to loose confidence. Forming smarter habits takes time and structure - with a positive self talk. To make matters more difficult, there is often no support from family/friends, they may not know how to effectively prepare meals and is embarrassed to say so during a session, and of course there may be financial constraints and life stressors involved. I’ve also noticed “busy” seasons (weddings, Christmas, BBQs) seem to get in the way of positive progress in the right direction.
— Anonymous RD

While the reality of nutritional practitioners' work may seem bleak at times, I think RHN Heather Allen sums it up nicely:

Being a Holistic Nutritionist means so much more than handing someone a meal plan, a few recipes and sending them on their way. Just as a personal trainer can’t get you six pack abs in a single workout, making sustainable dietary changes takes time and a commitment your highest potential.

And yes, change can be hard and relying on willpower doesn’t work, but what I have found that does work is a system of accountability and support. You could call me a personal trainer for you diet (a.k.a- your biggest cheerleader). This includes touching base regularly through accountability coaching calls where we discuss what is and isn’t working, creating solutions to break through those barriers and set new goals so we can reach your ultimate state of awesome.

We make these shifts at a realistic rate, using real food and getting real about what is holding you back from being your best self (aka- real talk), because if you change nothing, nothing changes.
— Heather Allen, RHN

Are you a practitioner? Meal Garden has just launched a progressive Practitioner Pilot Program alongside building out a fully comprehensive platform for work with clients.

MPME Part Two: The Meal Planning Puzzle Piece

When we start thinking of the week ahead, it can be scary and overwhelming. All the things we must get done and all the deadlines that are looming over.

One of the things we can simplify and make easier, is meal planning. Planning and preparing our food ahead of time saves us time, energy and a huge headache later because that is one less thing to worry about.

By the time you need to eat or grab your lunch, everything is pretty much ready to go! So, let’s continue to deconstruct and demystify meal planning.

Everything can be broken down to the sum of its parts. A building down to its construction materials, a sport down to its technical skills and movements, and meals to its individual food components.

You can easily think of meal prepping as essentially, a puzzle. A mix and match puzzle that can be altered a million different ways to suit your tastes and needs as they change throughout the year.

Gone are the ideas of eating steamed chicken breast, broccoli and sweet potato. To break down meal planning to its bare bones, each meal is simply the sum made up of its parts.

Predominately all nutritiously balanced meals are made with a protein, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and may if called for a grain or starchy vegetable.

Even though at its base, it really is that simple, we must talk about why these aspects are to be included for a balanced meal.

Some may think this is an oversimplification of meal planning, you’re right. But why not simplify it if time is already not on your side?

Why are we obligated to make elaborate meals for the week if there’s barely time to get anything done in the first place? A common mistake is to try and mimic Instagram or food bloggers’ meals.

We need to come back to where we are, start from where we are comfortable and work our way up from there.

Meal Garden offers a generalized search followed by a sorting function that allows you to choose by simplicity.

How easy is that? This is a great way to pick some recipes that are super quick and insanely easy to make.

These recipe does not require too much skill or kitchen Kung-Fu to wade through.

From there you can look through the recipes and add them in accordance to the steps we discussed in the first part of the series.

Pro tip time: when you are in the recipe search area, try clicking on the lightbulb icon. The lightbulb icon will be your best friend around here, opening the door to a whole host of helpful tools and tips. Specifically, here the icon will give you the option to either go to “Recipe Collections” or the “Meal Plan Library”. The recipe collections are just as the name calls, collections of recipes sorted into various categories for you to choose recipes from. The meal plan library will exhibit the numerous existing meal plans that have been curated and created by nutritionists for your needs and health goals (such as 6 Ingredients or Less or Abbeys Kitchen Gluten-Free Meal Plan), where the week’s meals are already preset for you! See below!


A basic meal should have a source of protein, a source of vegetables (preferably leafy and/or dark green, non-starchy), some healthy fat and perhaps, if needed, some grains or starchy vegetables.

The reasoning behind this is to ensure we have a balanced and wholesome consumption of all our macronutrient and micronutrient needs.

To live a healthy and happy life, we must consume the whole foods that will supply our organs systems the fuel they need to function.

Lacking in any of the macronutrients would be detrimental in the long run.

We will be covering the importance of the macronutrients and highlight a few micronutrients in the next part of the series.

Stayed tuned and stay satisfied! Next week’s installment will delve into the macronutrients in food and their role in our body.

A Culinary Nutritional Practitioner Speaks The Cold Hard Truth: My Job is the "HOW", You Need to Figure out "WHY"

Content originally published by Kristine Peacock on the Meals That Matter blog.

One of the questions I'm constantly asked about from friends, followers, clients and colleagues is,

"What is your secret to preparing healthy meals the whole family will enjoy?"

Like you, I'm not interested in preparing and cooking 5 meals for each member of my family - and I'm certainly not an advocate of anyone else doing that either! But the reality is, kids are notoriously picky-eaters, there are food allergies and dietary restrictions to deal with, and there never seems to be enough hours in a day! No wonder it seems easier for many of us to throw frozen chicken fingers and fries in the oven for dinner and tuck packaged snacks into our purses and lunch boxes!

And moreover, the nutrition bandwagon is introducing and marketing new ways of eating all the time! Keto, Paleo, Vegan, LCHF, Vegetarian, Plant-based, Gluten-Dairy-Sugar-Grain Free, Intermittent Fasting (IF), Non-GMO, Organic... Reading ingredient labels and sourcing ethical & sustainable food sources is a feat unto itself!

Despite all these obstacles, I've made the decision to put nutrition at the top of my health priority list. And it's not always easy. Ironically being healthy is subject to criticism! Backlash from kids, sabotage from family members (it's a grandparents job to spoil the grandkids after all!), being the odd one out at parties that revolve around pizza, chips and pop... and navigating restaurant menus - just to name a few!

And I'm a professional! This is what I do!

So when clients come to me for solutions to their diet, nutrition and health challenges, it's my job to provide clarity, simplicity and education to support their goals, limitations and barriers too. I've made YOUR nutrition my priority too!

That's a lot on my plate! (Pun intended!!)

In order to help you get your nutrition on track, there are a few things we need to figure out together:

  • Culinary Skills: Do you like to cook?
  • Who are you cooking for?
  • What kind of time can you dedicate to meal prep?
  • Your Daily/Weekly Schedule - work, weekends & activities
  • Food Preferences: What are your likes & dislikes
  • Food Allergies
  • Dietary Restrictions & Limitations
  • Health Conditions
  • Commitment, Time, Energy & Budget

As the professional who is guiding you on this journey, it is important for us to work together, collaboratively, & honestly, with opportunities for feedback, interaction and goal setting.

We need a platform with opportunities for exchanging information, recipes, meal plans, progress (and setbacks) and regular check-ins. Our work together can be virtual, online and from anywhere!

So... What is my secret to preparing healthy meals the whole family will enjoy?

It starts with ME... 

And it needs to start with YOU too!

Once we make nutrition a health priority, the obstacles, limitations and excuses simply become bumps in the road - a detour to the final destination if you will.

our job is to figure out the WHY...
My job is to figure out the HOW
WHY do you need a change? HOW can I help guide you?

I invite you to allow me to figure out the labels, the diet fads and restrictions. You just need to figure out why this change needs to happen now!