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One week of trying out Trim Healthy Mama is in the books! If you’re not familiar with the plan, check out my intro post here to get to know the basics. Here’s how it went:

 

What I Did

For the first week, I aimed to eat a mixture of primarily S and E meals and snacks, since most of my clients considering THM would use the plan to lose weight. I suspected that I might personally need a crossover here and there and perhaps S Helpers (small amounts of carb eaten with S meals) because of my tendency for hypoglycemia, but to honor the authors’ spirits of trial and error, I tried it for a week. I still have a few pounds of what I affectionately refer to as “holiday fluff,” so I’m not concerned about following a plan designed for weight loss for three weeks. If I lose a couple of pounds, I still won’t be under my normal body weight.

I also sought to test the authors’ claim that you can follow THM without specialty ingredients. For this reason (and to limit costs), I decided to purchase only a few things that I thought might be most useful (almond milk, almond flour, and pressed peanut flour). I already had THM-approved Stevia at home, so I didn’t need to buy that. Pinterest was a big help for finding THM-approved recipes, as the condensed version of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book does not include any.

 



 

Read on for the good, the bad, the numbers, and what I learned this week.

 

The Good

 

Finding something to eat at restaurants was not hard at all. Besides fast food my first day, I also found an option at a Korean restaurant with some gal pals last weekend. They had a vegetable and chicken dish made with sweet potato noodles, so I ordered that and made an E meal out of it. I’m sure it wasn’t cooked in a plan-approved oil and I have no way of knowing exactly how much oil they use to cook it, but I figured it was pretty close.

 

 

The other really great thing this past week was that several of the S meals were really tasty. One of my favorites was this curry soup. It was creamy, delicious, and loaded with vegetables.

 

 

Other hall-of-famers from this week include the lettuce-wrapped burger,

 

this roast chicken thigh and cottage/bleu cheese salad,

 

 

and a pizza topping and Caesar salad low-carb wrap.

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised how satisfying the S meals were, though I noticed for me there is a delay of  about 15-20 minutes after eating an S meal before I feel satisfied. After that, the S meals held me over for several hours and I rarely needed a snack before my next meal.

 

The Bad

Baking. Baking has been so bad.  I tried making these almond flour strawberry S muffins (I added vanilla too) and they smelled and looked SOOOOOO good.

 

 

Unfortunately, they tasted awful. My family was as eager to try them as I was but theirs went in the garbage after a bite or two. I slogged through the rest of them so as not to waste the ingredients but they were a huge flavorless disappointment. At least the plan allowed me to put butter on them.

 



 

Along the same lines (though not actually baked), I tried an S snack recipe I found for peanut butter cookie dough bites. Sounded delish! It was a very simple recipe – basically almond flour, fresh ground natural peanut butter, and a few chocolate chips. So good looking, yet so bland. I added some Stevia and that helped, but I still had to chew quickly and wash them down with almond milk.

 

 

In the past, I’ve had quite a few baked goods made with almond flour (but with real sugar) that were quite tasty. I’ve also had a lot of sugar-free or low-sugar baked goods (but with grain-based flours) for carb control that were delicious. This combo of grain-free flour and sugar-free sweeteners is proving much more difficult to swallow than I anticipated.

Any of my experienced THM readers (or gluten-free, paleo, etc) have any suggestions for edible almond flour baked goods sweetened with Stevia? I need help!

 

The Numbers

Goals Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
Weight change -1 lb
Waist change -1″
Avg. daily calorie intake 1700 1679
Avg. daily carb intake 170-200 g 120 g
Avg. daily protein intake 65-80 g 97 g
Avg. daily fat intake 40-55 g  81 g
Breakdown of meal types 10 S meals, 10 E meals
# of cheats 0 3 (1 intentional, 2 accidental cheats with non-whole grain sourdough bread)
 Grocery Cost  $100 (normal weekly grocery budget)  $125

 

What I Learned

There’s a lot in this category (reference the learning curve I mentioned above), so I thought a list might be easiest.

  • In the text of the chapter on grains, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan says “[our] approach to grain-based breads is not to put a big X over it…We simply make sure that grain-based bread flours are sprouted or a sourdough variety.” I wrote in my notes that sprouted-grain or sourdough breads were okay, so last week I bought a loaf of sourdough. What I failed to do was read more closely in the list at the end of the chapter where they more specifically noted that E-approved grains include only whole grain sourdough. Whoops. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I ate several slices of sourdough that’s not allowed on the plan before a more experienced Trim Healthy Mama follower corrected my mistake.
  • I’m not really willing to eat egg whites on their own – I just don’t like them – so savory E breakfasts were a challenge. I ended up finding that for me, S breakfasts work well if I want something savory and E breakfasts (I loved this banana split oatmeal!) for something sweet.
  • Stevia (or some other plan-approved sweetener like erythritol, xylitol, chicory root, or monkfruit extract) was an absolute must for me to make E meals like yogurt or oatmeal tasty. I would not recommend following this plan without one of these options on hand!
  • As you can see, I’m way overshooting my fat recommendations and low on my carbohydrate needs. Even on days when I ate two E meals and an E snack, the carbs only added up to about 75% of my daily needs. This wasn’t really a problem at first and I felt fine for the first few days, but by day 5 I started getting tired and my normal workouts felt harder than normal. On day 7 I had my first blood sugar low which (full disclosure) I had to fix with a slice of not-plan-approved non-sprouted whole grain bread for lack of other nearby options. So clearly, as suspected, I discovered that I am someone who needs S Helpers. 

I started that this morning by adding half of a spiced peach with my egg and the final two almond flour muffins this morning.

 



Overall, this plan was a little frustrating this first week, since I didn’t have more of the specialty ingredients that would make it easier. It did feel like I frequently ran into the issue of coming up with meal ideas that I then realized I wasn’t “allowed” to have. I plan on purchasing a few more specialty ingredients, as well an approved kind of bread, this week and continuing my search for edible baked goods. I do think this is a plan that will get much easier as I  get more into the groove.

Stay posted for more updates, research, and recipes!

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with the producers or manufacturers of this product; however, as an Amazon Associate, I receive compensation for any purchases of products through the links on this post.

Diets Trim Healthy Mama

 

So you’ve read about the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, and you’ve decided you’re a good candidate for using Trim Healthy Mama as your structure for moderation. Your next step is to get started! Over the course of my time following the plan, I gathered a list of a few tips to help you make the most out of your THM journey.

 

1. There’s a learning curve

Don’t feel bad if you unintentionally eat something that’s “not on plan.” It’s bound to happen (it happened to me!). Also, figuring out what you’re allowed to eat may feel super overwhelming at first. There is a lot to learn in the beginning! Take it in steps. Read one chapter of the book at a time (or as much as you can without feeling overwhelmed) and sit with the information for a day or more. It will get easier.

 

2. Having certain products on hand makes a world of difference

There were several products that made the THM plan so much simpler for me. Which products help you will vary based on your schedule and preferences. Here were some of my faves:

  • Pressed peanut flour – Basically ground-up peanuts with a good portion of the natural peanut oil removed, pressed peanut flour is great for E meals because it is a low-fat protein source that goes great with sweet flavors. It works well in smoothies or you can reconstitute it with water to use it as you would normal PB. Click here to purchase the one I used.
  • Almond milk (or other milk alternative) – Technically, dairy milk is not “on plan” with THM if you’re aiming for weight loss because, as the authors state, it is a “natural crossover” containing both carbohydrates and fat. That’s true unless your milk is fat free – but if you want to follow the plan to the letter, an alternative like unsweetened almond milk is useful. This one might not be as “essential” for others as for me since my family is comprised of hard-core dairy lovers, but it came in very handy for both S and E meals and as a milk alternative in recipes.
  • Low-carb wraps – These are so convenient for S meals. Sometimes you just want to put all that fatty goodness into some kind of bread-like thing. They were awesome topped with pizza toppings and/or Caesar salad. Click here for the wraps I used (also recommended by the THM authors).
  • Sprouted whole grain or sprouted sourdough bread – Your THM-approved bread option for E meals! I goofed up and used non-sprouted sourdough for my first week and had to course-correct with this tasty sprouted Dave’s Killer bread for the next two weeks. Note: eating only sprouted bread is not necessary for blood sugar management, though the plan requires it
  • Stevia – If you want something sweet, it’s nutritionally your best on-plan option. Choose one that is primarily pure stevia or stevia with erythritol or xylitol. Here’s one option that fits these criteria.
  • Almond flour (or other grain-free flour) – I’m a little torn on this one because almond flour and I didn’t exactly get along. I can’t see how you could get too far cooking without any kind of flour at all, but I didn’t take the time (or money) to explore options besides almond.

 



 

3. Don’t forget the protein

They mention this repeatedly in the book, but I can’t reiterate it enough. You need protein to stay full until your next meal, especially after E meals. The carbohydrate in E meals will go much farther if you put some protein in the tank to slow down digestion.

 

4. Be careful with your saturated fat

My biggest nutritional gripe with THM is the amount of saturated fat that can very easily be consumed within plan guidelines. Eating high amounts of saturated fat is correlated with inflammation and higher levels of harmful cholesterol. I personally ate way more saturated fat than daily recommendations most of the days I was on the plan. Be careful with the animal-based fats they recommend like butter, cream, and fatty red meats. Even the small amounts they encourage can easily push you over the recommendations.

5. Make sure to eat your veggies.

The plan itself is focused on fuels and though encouraging of vegetables, does not have a specific requirement for meeting veggie recommendations, and veggies are a very important part of a healthy lifestyle! It can be easy to skimp in this area, (I found some Youtube THMers who warned against this very issue) so be sure and give these powerful plants plenty of attention.

 



 

6. Ignore some of the verbiage from the authors

One of my pet peeves as a dietitian is seeing foods labeled as “good/clean/guilt-free” or “bad/sinful/naughty” as though each individual food could be placed in a single cut-and-dry category of either good or bad. Years of this kind of mindset can make it difficult for people to enjoy any kind of food without feeling guilty (except for raw, non-starchy, organic vegetables). I’ve had many clients who follow up every statement about what they eat with “and I know that’s bad.” (“My family likes pasta and I know that’s bad…I like to eat a lot of fruit and I know that’s bad…Sometimes I eat a piece of chocolate and I know that’s bad.”) It makes me so sad! While there are clearly foods that are more nutritious and deserve to be chosen more often than others, please ignore anyone who tells you that any food is “naughty” or that you should feel guilty for eating.

 

7. The plan is more restrictive than is necessary

In reading the first few chapters of the book, you’ll be preparing for “food freedom”…the authors start the book with that phrase and spend plenty of time discussing the cons of all the diets that are overly restrictive and that eliminate food groups. I was really on board with all of that.

Then for the remainder of the book, you find there is a pretty large list of common foods that are “not on plan” aka “not allowed.” It was a bit of a letdown for me, to be honest. They even cut out healthful options like whole grains based on some overly restrictive and outdated guidelines that I talked about in this post. For the most part, these complete eliminations are unnecessary to meet health goals, so bear in mind that 100% on-plan compliance is not necessary and that you could swap in foods that you know to be healthful.

 

8. Fuel isolation is not necessary for fat loss

I have not seen research to back up the concept of isolating either carbohydrate or fat at a particular meal as a method of weight loss. It can, however, be a structure for moderation that would make sense to some personalities. There’s no magic in the fuel isolation itself, it’s just a way to help some folks balance their overall diet.

 



9. Baked goods are tough

 

 

As I mentioned throughout my time on the plan, baked goods are tough cookies on THM. I know several ladies who follow THM and have found options that they enjoy, and I’ve also tried many plan-approved recipes that just could not cut it for me. If you are a baker (or lover of things baked), be prepared that finding “on-plan” recipes or tweaking your family recipes to your satisfaction may be a long road. You may need several specialty flours, oils, and sweeteners. This was my biggest struggle throughout the plan.

 

10. Do what works for you

Try the plan out – see what you think! If you are one of the people that loves it and finds it freeing, enjoy! Keep your eye on nutritional balance and rock your food freedom. If the plan is a struggle or parts of it don’t make sense, feel free to let them go! Personalize your nutritional plan and only keep the changes that work for your lifestyle and personality.

 



 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with the producers or manufacturers of these products. As an Amazon Associate, I receive compensation for  purchases of products through the links on this post.

Diets Trim Healthy Mama

I’m back with more Trim Healthy Mama posts! I’ve been in blogging limbo for the last couple of weeks because I’m working on moving my practice into a new office! It’s so exciting – check out the new space!

 

New office space for my private practice

 

Anyway, that’s not why you’re here, is it? You’re here to find out whether or not Trim Healthy Mama is a good option for your life! Overall, the premise of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan is sound enough that if you want to lose weight, it will probably work. The benefit of THM is that it does a better job of switching from weight loss to maintenance than many other diets. It takes a unique approach and the authors provide several options for customization.

 



 

Like anything, eating plans are never one-size-fits-all. Some people will love the THM plan and others will struggle to follow it. After researching the plan and following it myself, I’ve put together some tips to help you decide if you are likely to be successful with THM.

 

You are likely to thrive on Trim Healthy Mama if…

 

 You are satisfied after eating low-carb meals (particularly if your goal is weight loss)

For some, grilled chicken on a large salad with dressing is a full meal. Others will still be asking for some fruit or a roll after they’re done. This is partly related to blood sugar regulation, partly to personal preference, and it’s very individual. If a steak and some roasted veggies sounds like all you need to be happy, you’ll do just fine in this area.

You aren’t a “social eater”

Social eaters get a large chunk of their enjoyment from food by sharing it with others (going to others’ houses, going to restaurants/parties, sharing meals, etc). Plans like THM that have a lot of “off limits” foods make this tricky unless you’re socializing with other people who are following the same plan. If you could care less about snacks at parties or don’t mind bringing your own thing, you’re good to go.

 



You like to cook/bake OR you don’t mind eating the same things from day to day

According to the THM authors, you don’t necessarily have to cook to follow the plan. After following it myself, I would say that’s true, but your options will be much more limited if you don’t.

You need a little guidance for moderation

If hearing the word “moderation” makes your eyes glaze, or if moderation just seems to be a nebulus concept, it may help you to have a structure like THM to guide you.

You’re interested in nutrition

This isn’t a must, but having an interest in the way the body works and how it interacts with food is helpful in understanding the plan. I haven’t even mentioned all of the supplementation or “add-in” recommendations the authors give in the book for boosting nutrition, but they are pretty in-depth. Some nutritional background or curiosity would be helpful for working through some of those more scientific chapters.

 



 

You might want to choose a different plan if…

 

You or your family have dietary restrictions different than those on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan

The THM plan is already more restrictive than is necessary to achieve most health goals, so if you’ve got other restrictions going on, this is going to make everything tougher. My philosophy is always to find the least restrictive way to head where you’re trying to go. Don’t make it harder on yourself than is necessary!

Being told you can’t have something makes you want it even more

There are quite a few “normal” foods that are not allowed on the THM plan, so if having those parameters makes you start jonesing for ice cream or a baked potato, this probably isn’t the plan for you.

You love baked goods

I’ve heard (and continue to hear) that there are tasty grain-free, sugar-free baked goods out there. I certainly won’t claim to have tried them all. In fact, I recently heard from a couple of experienced THM followers that the best results come not from any one wheat flour alternative but a blend of several. Regardless, baked goods were my biggest struggle following the plan (and I’m not a bakery junkie). I’m sure continued experimentation would yield better results than I achieved, but I’m pretty certain that even the best grain-free options aren’t going to equal the real deal. If baked goods are something you absolutely love, losing that aspect of your food quality of life would make following THM tough.

You dislike “diet lingo”

If learning a new system of numbers or language to track your health goals is not up your alley, this may or may not be for you. As with some other diets out there, Trim Healthy Mama has a language of its own – S meals, E meals, crossovers, S helpers, and fuel pulls are all part of the lingo in this case. For some people, learning these will be simple, make sense, and not be a problem, others just won’t want to mess with it. You know who you are!

 



 

So there you have it – a few tips to help you know if the Trim Healthy Mama Plan might be a good fit for you. It’s certainly not foolproof, but I want to acknowledge that every single person is different, and every approach to health and wellness is personal – it has to work for you and not against you.

I want to add a caveat here that I do have some concerns about a couple of the nutritional aspects of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan – not the entire framework itself, but some tweaks I would recommend to anyone who chooses to follow it to ensure they are making the most healthful choices for their lives. Those are coming in a future post, so stay tuned!

Trim Healthy Mama

 

My three weeks on Trim Healthy Mama have finished and it was certainly a learning process! I wrapped up the whole experience with this tasty taco salad S meal at a friend’s taco birthday party.

 

 

The Good

 

The plan is cheaper overall than I anticipated – it only cost me extra the first week when I stocked up on some special ingredients.

I made two good baked things! If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve struggled to make edible baked goods on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. I took a break from baking after a few flops my first week, but I got back to it this week. At first I had some duds – pumpkin chip breakfast cake was meh, and these lemon blueberry muffins (while pretty) were just not yummy.

 

 

The first delicious almond flour foods I made were these pizza puffs (for which I will soon provide you the recipe)! They were really tasty dipped into my 5-minute heart-healthy pizza sauce.

 

 



The second were these low-carb, gluten-free thin mint dupes from All Day I Dream About Food. The recipe was posted in a Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group and I had to give them a try. I thought they might be better than some of the other almond flour baked goods I’ve tried since the actual cookie part is so thin (and drenched in chocolate…kind of hard to go wrong with that!). They turned out so well! Yum!

 

 

The Bad

 

My primary nutrition concern with Trim Healthy Mama was my suspicion that it encouraged too much saturated fat intake, though I wanted to wait until the end of my three weeks to see how the actual numbers shook out. Excess saturated fat intake is associated with inflammation (which is linked to a myriad of health issues) and is typically found in solid animal-based fats. There is potential for excess saturated fat intake on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, since the S meals often contain cheese, creamy sauces/dressings, and are cooked in butter. As yummy as stacking all those fatty goodies into one meal can be, from the get-go I have been concerned that the Trim Healthy Mama Plan would take this aspect a little too far.

To put numbers into the mix, my recommended daily saturated fat intake is 20 grams per day and while I was on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, my daily average saturated fat intake was 31 grams. I have to say that I expected the average to be even higher than that, but regardless it is about 150% higher than current recommendations. Fortunately, the blood sugar regulation portion of the THM plan helps prevent inflammation, but the saturated fat aspect promotes it in another way. It would be best to reduce inflammation both through blood sugar regulation and moderation of saturated fat. If a client of mine is interested in following Trim Healthy Mama, I will encourage them to either limit S meals or to limit sources of saturated fats from S meals to prevent inflammation.



 

The Numbers

 

Recommendation Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
Weight change -1 lb  +.6 lb  0 lb
Body fat change -.3% 0%  -.4%
Waist change -1″ -.5″  0″
Avg. daily calorie intake 1700 1679  1557  1715
Avg. daily carb intake 170-200 g 120 g  135 g  135 g
Avg. daily protein intake 65-80 g 97 g  90 g  89 g
Avg. daily fat intake 40-55 g  81 g  75 g  85 g
Breakdown of meal types 10 S meals

10 E meals

 13 S meals

8 E meals (and lots of E snacks)

9 S meals

8 E meals

2 Crossover meals

# of cheats 0 3 (1 intentional, 2 accidental cheats with non-whole grain sourdough bread) 1 (intentional Valentine’s date cheat at Fujiyama’s – yummy!)  2 (both intentional, 1 burger/fries after a day of snowboarding and 1 tea party with my niece!)
 Grocery Cost  $100 (normal weekly grocery budget)  $125  $92 (yippee!)  $102

 

What I Learned

    • I do not like almond flour. I can’t help it. If I can taste the almond flour, there’s too much almond flour. Extracts and zests are helpful, but not enough to overcome the nasty that is almond flour in muffin form. I gleefully threw away the last little bit from the bottom of the bag this morning.
  • I can definitely get by with fewer carbohydrates than I tended to eat before I started this project. It’s a good reminder to not let taste overcome true hunger!



Diets Trim Healthy Mama

 

My second week of Trim Healthy Mama has passed and I have to say – it went much better for me than last week! I found my groove, took a break from baked goods, and added in S Helpers to prevent low blood sugar. These changes made quite a difference in my quality of life.

 

The Good

I picked up a few useful products this past week – Laughing Cow light cheese, low carb wraps, and sprouted whole grain bread – that made my life a bit easier. The cheese helped me create more savory E options, which I had struggled with during my first week on THM.

I’m not ready to say that I give up on baked goods (in fact I have an almond flour pumpkin chip cake in the oven – fingers crossed it’s edible!), but I kind of took a break from them this week. I really wanted to take this three weeks to play around with grain-free baking since THM requires it and doing so would bulk up my recipe stash for my gluten-free clients, but boy my first week was a crash and burn. I tried a couple of different almond flour recipes that were really flavorless, but powered through eating them so I wouldn’t waste anything. That burned me out a bit on my almond flour experimentation and I didn’t even bother with any of that this week. It made life easier. I have picked out a couple of recipes for my last week (armed with tips from THM groups online!) and I’m ready to try again.

S Helpers make me happy! I felt much better and had no trouble returning to my usual workouts and energy levels once I got just a teensy bit of carb added in to my S meals. It also made me much happier just to have the option to pick even one little portion of carb. Yay for fewer restrictions!

A very unexpected plus was that after I bought all of the expensive extra stuff the first week, my grocery budget actually dipped down a few dollars this week. Who would have thought?



 

The Bad

Honestly, with the exception of still needing a solution to grain-free baked bads (I’ve had more bads than goods so far), I don’t have too many problems to report this week. I have found ways to navigate some of the roadblocks I met with in the beginning, and my S Helpers have fixed my hanger (as in hangry) problem. Can’t complain too much!

 

The Numbers

S meals were definitely the favorite this week because S meal + S helper = happy me. I ended up eating mostly E snacks in between to keep my energy up. My average carb intake was higher (but not by a lot) and my average fat intake was lower (but not by a lot). Interestingly, I was much more satisfied with fewer calories this way, because carbohydrates addressed my blood sugar fluctuations and are also lower in calories than fat.

 

I gained half a pound this week – could be nothing at all (weight fluctuation is totally normal and need not cause frustration) – but it’s most likely increased water retention in my muscles. Last week I know my glycogen (glucose storage in my muscles) was low because my blood sugar was running low and I could feel the drag in my workouts. Glycogen and water are friends, so whenever your glycogen stores are full the glucose is often hanging out with a bit of water. Since my waist circumference decreased and body fat stayed the same this week, that is the most likely cause of that change.

 

Recommendation Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
Weight change -1 lb  +.6 lb
Body fat change -.3% 0%
Waist change -1″ -.5″
Avg. daily calorie intake 1700 1679  1557
Avg. daily carb intake 170-200 g 120 g  135 g
Avg. daily protein intake 65-80 g 97 g  90 g
Avg. daily fat intake 40-55 g  81 g  75 g
Breakdown of meal types 10 S meals, 10 E meals  13 S meals, 8 E meals (and lots of E snacks)
# of cheats 0 3 (1 intentional, 2 accidental cheats with non-whole grain sourdough bread) 1 (intentional Valentine’s date cheat at Fujiyama’s – yummy!)
 Grocery Cost  $100 (normal weekly grocery budget)  $125  $92 (yippee!)

 



What I learned

  • Protein is key for satisfaction (especially with E meals) – Do any of you ever know something, then for some reason knowing doesn’t help you actually put that knowledge into practice? No? Just me? Okay. See, I know very well that protein is satisfying, but I was really reminded of that when I ate an E meal without a sufficient amount of protein. My stomach was a-rumblin’ much sooner. This is exacerbated on Trim Healthy Mama because fat is also a satisfier, but E meals are low fat, so ya gotta have that protein.
  • For me, the “personal choice” products from the book are necessary – In the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book, the authors provide options for products that can make your life easier. They acknowledge that some food purists (those who like to make ev-er-y-thing from scratch) are not likely to want to use the products. I am not one of those people. I like to cook and I make a lot of things from scratch, but I’m in the middle of that spectrum, baby. I’ll take efficiency if you’ve got it.
  • I prefer to have my meals be S (with S helpers) and snacks be E – This combo keeps my energy (in the form of blood sugar) up throughout the day and gives me the greatest feeling of flexibility and choice.
  • Use spices, extracts, and zests to improve the flavor of baked goods – This was a tip from the THM boards I surveyed for help with my baked goods. I haven’t had the chance to test it yet but I’ll let you know after I pull that pumpkin cake out and sample it!

 



Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with the producers or manufacturers of this product; however, as an Amazon Associate, I receive compensation for any purchases of products through the links on this post.

Diets Trim Healthy Mama

 

There are several foundational concepts behind the Trim Healthy Mama plan that are designed to improve health and help with weight management. As I mentioned in my intro post, for the most part these concepts line up with research and make practical sense. There are some aspects of the plan that don’t, and I’ll explain some of them below. Here’s your chance to get the overview of what research has to say about the basics of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan.

 

Moderation

 

Age-old and still good, the advice to eat in moderation is always relevant. By including protein at each meal and limiting carbohydrate portions, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan does a great job of preventing carbohydrate overeating. Overeating carbohydrates leads to storage of extra blood sugar as fat and can also increase inflammation, so regulating blood sugar by moderating carbohydrate intake can be key to weight loss or maintenance.

The weakness I see in this area is with fat moderation. The authors do repeatedly mention the importance of not abusing fat intake, but there is no official limit on fat intake for S meals. This might make it tricky for some to keep fat intake in check (my fat intake was quite high during my first week). Since fat is very calorie dense, it’s possible this could interfere with weight loss or weight maintenance goals. Fortunately fat is filling, so that does help promote natural moderation of fat intake, but keep in mind that the desires of our tastebuds can easily override that moderation if we aren’t careful. Fat is awfully tasty!

 



 

Glycemic Index

 

Besides limiting portions of carbohydrates, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan is designed to manage blood sugar (and thus weight and inflammation) by limiting carbohydrate options to those that raise blood sugar more slowly and gradually. This is quantified using a tool called the glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index raise blood sugar slowly, while foods with a high glycemic index raise blood sugar rapidly. For example, barley (allowed on the THM plan) has a glycemic index of 25, while white rice (not allowed on the THM plan) has a glycemic index of 72.1 This is generally a good way to choose healthful carbohydrates and as a bonus, it typically increases fiber intake since high-fiber carbohydrates tend to have lower glycemic indices.

Researchers have since taken this concept a step further to include not only how rapidly a food raises blood sugar, but also the actual amount of carbohydrates in a standard portion of the food.2 This helps differentiate between foods that contain only a few carbohydrates (like watermelon, which has a high glycemic index but contains so few carbohydrates that it barely affects blood sugar), and those that have more carbohydrates and send them in quickly (like sweet potatoes). This new measure is called glycemic load, and it is a more complete representation of how a food actually affects blood sugar.1 A glycemic load of less than 10 is considered low and a glycemic load of greater than 20 is considered high.

Taking glycemic load into account places some not-on-plan foods like whole wheat bread (which has a glycemic load of 9) and whole wheat tortillas (glycemic load = 8) into a much more favorable position as blood sugar regulators. They fall well below some on-plan foods like sweet potatoes (glycemic load = 22). Utilizing glycemic load rather than glycemic index would allow quite a few more foods and make the THM plan less restrictive while better honoring the spirit of managing and regulating blood sugar. My personal philosophy is always to help clients find the plan that is the least restrictive way to achieve their goals – it makes food more fun!



 

Fuel Isolation

 

The authors of THM also encourage that for weight loss or maintenance, you should focus on only one fuel (fat or carbohydrate) per meal. The reason for this is that our bodies prioritize the use of carbohydrate fuels over fat fuels, and will burn blood sugar before using fat. The authors state that by restricting fuels to one at a time, you can ensure that all fuels (including fats) are fully burned before eating the next meal.

This is true as long as the total amount of fuel eaten still matches one’s energy needs in that window. For (an overly simplified) example, if someone ate a meal that contained 450 calories for lunch, and they used 500 calories before they ate again at dinner time, they will have burned all of the 450 calories they ate at lunch (first the energy from carbohydrates, then from fat) and tap into their fat stores to make up the last 50. On the other hand, if they ate a 700-calorie lunch and then only needed 500 calories, they would burn through those 500 (first from carbohydrates, then fat if carbohydrates ran low) then end up storing the extra 200 as body fat. Like I said, this is overly simplified for explanation’s sake and there’s a lot of physiology missing here, but it gives you a rough idea.

To bring this back to the THM concept, restricting fuels to either carbohydrate or fat is one practical way to moderate intakes overall, though it certainly is not the only way and it also doesn’t guarantee that the total amount of energy eaten would match energy needs. The key is whether or not the structure of THM makes it easier for you personally to moderate. For some personalities, the structure of S and E meals makes moderation much more clear and easy to follow. If you prefer or it makes more sense to you, you can balance fuels at each meal with moderated portions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat as long as the total amount of energy you eat matches the total amount of energy you need (or a little less if you’re trying to lose weight).

 

The Verdict

 

Overall, Trim Healthy Mama provides a structure for moderation that is mostly based on valid concepts and is likely to generate weight loss (if desired). It will also direct your eating to healthier pastures, as it eliminates quite a bit of junk food, empty calories, and inflammatory foods. Basically, if this plan works for your personality and lifestyle, go for it! It is more restrictive than is necessary for health and weight management, but keep in mind that your lifestyle is your own – so you can choose parts of the plan that work for you and parts that don’t! In fact, many of the blog articles I have read about THM say that their writers follow “a version of ” THM. Good for them! They made it their own, and finding a plan that works for your life is just as important as finding one that works for your body.

 

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/5/4689459

 



Diets Trim Healthy Mama

I started the Trim Healthy Mama plan yesterday and I’ve been S-mealing and E-mealing all over the place! Yesterday was actually an interesting day for me to start because it wasn’t my normal routine at all. My dad had a (minor) surgery so I picked up my grandma and we headed to the surgery center to keep my mom company and help out. This change in schedule was a bit of a test for my first day since I was out and about for much of the day. Here’s a rundown of my first crack at THM:

 

7:15 am – Breakfast (E meal)

 

 

Breakfast time! It was trickier than I expected to come up with a meal, mostly because I do my grocery shopping on Mondays and hadn’t bought food specifically for the plan yet. I started with an E meal of oatmeal with strawberries, cinnamon, and stevia. On the side, I had some plain fat free Greek yogurt with a drop of vanilla and some stevia. I was concerned that this meal wouldn’t have enough protein to make it all the way to lunch, but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get hungry until 11 am. I tossed some oranges in my bag for a snack but never did eat them.



11 am

Dad went in for his surgery and our stomachs were starting to rumble. I volunteered to drop off dad’s prescriptions and grab us some lunch to bring back. Most of the portable options in the vicinity of dad’s pharmacy were fast food. I remembered reading the chapter in the Trim Healthy Mama Plan about eating out. The authors say S meals are the easiest to do while eating out because of the low-carb options at many restaurants. After some quick Googling for ideas on low-carb fast fooding, I discovered that Wendy’s has a lettuce-wrapped burger option, so I dropped off the prescriptions and headed over there.

 

12 pm – Lunch (S Meal)

When I was ordering, I was a little unsure how much food I would need to be satisfied. Generally, if I get fast food I order a kids’ meal or a cheeseburger with a small serving of french fries. French fries are a no-go on the Trim Healthy Mama plan because they are high in both fat and carbohydrates (not to mention that they are made of white potatoes, which are also discouraged). I’m a sucker for a salty carbohydrate so honestly that was a bit of a bummer. I planned to order a lettuce-wrapped cheeseburger but then wondered if that would be enough when I’m used to also having a bun and some french fries too. I decided to embrace the concept of an S meal and got a double cheeseburger. Now, as a dietitian, I would consider this meal too high in saturated fat and too high in calories (not to mention sodium), but it fits the THM concept. I thought about ordering a side salad also but their online reviews were less than enticing.

 

 

The lettuce-wrapped cheeseburger was messy but delicious. I would order one any time! I noticed that eating a low-carb meal didn’t satisfy me as quickly as a balanced meal with carbohydrates does, but after 10-15 minutes the meal’s fat kicked in and I was satisfied for hours.

 

3 pm 

Time for grocery shopping! For the most part, I was able to buy the usual foods my family eats when planning for THM this week. The exceptions included a handful of specialty foods that are recommended to make the diet easier and more interesting to follow. I bought pressed peanut flour (a low-fat alternative to peanut butter, used mostly as a protein source in E meals), almond flour (for grain-free baking), and coconut oil (recommended by the plan for cooking, along with butter). These products were more expensive than the alternatives I typically buy and upped my grocery bill for the week by about $25. The containers I bought will most likely last for the next 3 weeks and probably beyond, so I imagine the extra costs will average out.

 



 

6:30 pm – Dinner (E Meal)

 

 

After running around a bit and making sure dad was settled at home, I ended up making a recipe I had planned for last week but never got around to cooking (and just so happened to be a type of burger…déjà vu, anyone?). I was able to use up the ingredients with just a few tweaks for THM. I put my black bean veggie burger (which didn’t hold together well but tasted  good) on a bed of lettuce and a slice of sourdough. I made baked sweet potato fries and a strawberry banana smoothie as sides. It was very satisfying and lasted all the way until bedtime!

 

Overall, definitely not a bad day. It’s taking a bit of getting used to, thinking carefully about all of the parts of my meal to make sure to balance fuel sources per the THM plan. I have a feeling my husband and boys will particularly love the S meals I have planned for the week!

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with the producers or manufacturers of this product; however, as an Amazon Associate, I receive compensation for any purchases of products through the links on this post.

 



Diets Trim Healthy Mama

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