Tag: eat well

These cheesy, saucy meatballs were like delicious little meatloaf bites. They paired superbly with a salad or green beans, and reheated well for lunches. My kids loved them too!

 

 

You can find the recipe for these meatballs on Briana Thomas’ blog. I topped them with my 5-minute heart healthy pizza sauce and it was delicious! Make them with lean meat and a light dusting of mozzarella cheese and you can improve the saturated fat content for heart health. They would be great with some whole grain spaghetti also. I hope you enjoy them too!

 

 



Diets 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

 

This soup is one of my favorite S meals I’ve eaten so far in the last 2 weeks. It pairs nicely with a little bit of brown rice for an S helper if needed. The cashews on top give it a perfect crunch!

 

If you prefer a slow cooker version, skip the coconut oil and add all ingredients (except basil and cashews) to a slow cooker and cook for 4.5 hours on high. Enjoy this warm, comforting soup around a warm, comforting table!

 



 

 

Red Curry Soup

This delicious low-carb soup has a little bit of crunch and a lot of flavor.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 crown broccoli cut into florets
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced
  • 2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 (15 oz) cans coconut milk
  • 1 (15 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashews for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, brown chicken cubes in coconut oil over medium heat.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, except basil and cashews. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Add basil and cook for 5 more minutes.

  5. Serve in bowls with cashews on top.

Recipe Notes

Contains 294 calories, 21 g fat, 10 g carb, and 16.5 g protein per 2-cup serving.

 



Recipes 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

 

 

In my last post I described the basics of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, as outlined in the book by the same name. Here, you’ll find my initial impressions of the plan itself from a dietitian’s perspective. I begin test driving the plan myself next week, so I will keep you updated with more firsthand thoughts as I go along. For now, here are the things I like, things I don’t care for, and things I am really curious to try out for myself:

Things I like about the plan

  • It is basically structured moderation. It would probably work well for someone who needs a bit of structure (“guardrails” if you will) to feel comfortable with portion control or balance.
  • 80% (or so) of the plan is evidence-based and in line with physiology – I’ll go into more detail about that in my research post(s) next week.
  • The plan is geared directly toward regulating blood sugar, which prevents fat storage, both of which reduce inflammation, which helps regulate blood sugar, which prevents fat storage…you get the idea. This plan directly addresses the most common “vicious cycle” I see in my clients.
  • It is customizable to fit many health-related goals, as discussed in this post.
  • It does not entirely eliminate any food groups.
  • The authors take a very realistic stance and are careful to emphasize that weight loss will be gradual and health is a long-term journey.

 

Things I don’t care for

  • The tagline on the book is “Keep it simple, keep it sane,” yet even the summarized version of the book is 300 pages long. To get started, you’d probably only need to read the first third of it, but there’s a pretty steep learning curve depending on your starting level of nutrition knowledge. I think (and the authors second) that after a while it would become second nature and not require much thought, but “simple” is not the word I would use to describe the plan out of the gate.
  • As you might have deduced from the second bullet above, about 20% of the plan is not evidence-based or wholeheartedly holds on to questionable or controversial stances. Again, more detail is forthcoming in my research post(s).
  • In the intro chapters, the book says ALL foods are “in,” but as you read further it says to stay away from certain foods like fruit juice or white potatoes, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Granted, it never says you can’t have them, but it definitely takes a stance against them. Also, throughout the book they are careful to use the phrase “not on plan” rather than “not allowed,” though technically the feeling you get is that those foods are no-nos. Which leads me to my next point:
  • Labeling foods as “bad” or “good” is problematic and can really affect people’s relationships with food in a negative way. This can get really tricky when you’re trying to discuss the nutritional merits of foods and I run into that too. The authors of the book do say that they believe all foods are good to eat; however, some of their language in the book gives the wrong impression (for example, I’m looking at you “Not-so-naughty Noodles recipe! Noodles aren’t “naughty!”).



Things I’m really curious to test out

  • The authors claim you can follow this plan very simply, even if you don’t know how to cook.
  • Most of the baked goods are grain free, and I haven’t met too many delicious grain-free baked goods in my day. They claim the recipes are tasty, and I hope they’re right!
  • I plan to do a mix of S meals, E meals, and crossovers to get the full experience (check out my Trim Healthy 101 post if that sentence made no sense to you).  I sometimes have mild to moderate hypoglycemia which may make it difficult for me to eat S meals, but I’m going to try it to see what happens. The authors state that people with severe hypoglycemia may need to eat crossovers instead to avoid low blood sugar.

I’m looking forward to getting started with this one! Let me know your thoughts, comments, or questions and I’ll make sure to address them.

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.

Trim Healthy Mama

If you’re anything like me, the phrase “Trim Healthy Mama” (aka THM) didn’t really mean much to you – maybe you’d never even heard of it – up until this point. I was vaguely aware of the existence of the plan because several ladies at my church follow it, but as far as details, I couldn’t tell ya much. Or anything, actually.

 

 

So last week I got a hold of a copy of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. This book is the 300ish-page summarized version of the 650ish-page original book Trim Healthy Mama. The writers, sisters Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, have also released two cookbooks: Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook and Trim Healthy Table.

 

I’ve read most of the way through the book so far, and I’ve gotten the gist of the plan. THM is clearly geared toward women but the authors say their husbands love it and have also lost or maintained weight on the plan. In this post, I’ll lay out a very broad overview. I’ll share my thoughts about it and what the research has to say in future posts.



The plan incorporates the nutritional concepts behind several different “diets” or eating plans. It’s a little bit of glycemic index, a little bit of carbohydrate counting, some low fat, and some low carb, topped with a skosh of mindful eating (you didn’t know that was how skosh was spelled, did you? Me neither…I had to look it up). Pearl and Serene have created their own terminology with which to couch all of these different concepts. Here are a few THM glossary entries you’ll need to know:

 

S (aka satisfying) meal: a high fat, low carb meal with plenty of protein

E (aka energizing) meal: a moderate carb, low fat meal with plenty of protein

Crossovers: meals that contain both S (high fat) foods and E (high carb) foods

Fuel pull: a type of food that is low enough in both fat and carbs that it doesn’t count toward either group and can be added to either S meals or E meals

Fuel pull meal: low-calorie meal comprised primarily of protein and fuel pull foods

 

THM is designed so you can customize your own plan based on your needs:

  • Weight loss – avoid crossover meals and stick primarily to S or E meals separated by at least 2.5-3 hours, with occasional fuel pull meals sprinkled in
  • Weight maintenance – eat a mix of S, E, and crossover meals
  • Weight gain – eat primarily crossover meals
  • Children, pregnant, nursing – focus on eating mostly crossover meals to support increased nutritional needs

The meals and their organization are based on the premise of selecting fuels intentionally based on your goals. According to the authors, eating multiple fuels at a time is more conducive to weight gain/maintenance, while limiting fuels to one type or the other at a time is more conducive to weight loss. Stay tuned for how this lines up with physiology and research!

 



 

There are quite a few nuances and specifics about the foods that comprise each type of meal which I haven’t mentioned here, since this is a broad summary. I start following Trim Healthy Mama on Monday, so keep an eye out for posts with more detail and what it’s like for me while following the plan. Let me know what you think or if you have specific questions in the comments!

 

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