This is an overview of the Trim Healthy Mama plan. Affiliate links have been included for your convenience, but your price will not be impacted in any way.
Have you heard of this new “diet” called Trim, Healthy Mama? Late last year I saw this phrase pop up on one or two blogs I followed but I didn’t really investigate too much, thinking it was just another grain-free diet (by the way, it’s not a grain-free diet). Plus the book was about $30, which is more than I cared to pay. (There is now a new plan book and new cookbook) But then DH saw the facebook status of an old high school friend that mentioned having lost a lot of weight using Trim, Healthy Mama.
I decided the book/program merited a closer look so I checked the book out from the library. After having it for three weeks, I still didn’t get through it, so I rechecked it out. I wasn’t able to recheck it a second time, but since I had kept it so long, I decided to go ahead and buy it.
Also, check out my post: Do I Need the New Trim Healthy Mama Books?
So, what exactly is Trim, Healthy Mama?
The premise of the Trim Healthy Mama plan is that your body needs two different types of fuel to function–fat and carbs. And excess fuel gets stored as fat. For weight loss, both fat and carbs are needed, but not at the same time. So, no butter on white bread. Or corn chips and guacamole. Or refined sugar. So Pearl and Serene have come up with a plan that allows you to have both fats and carbs, but separately.
Here is a brief explanation of the terms you will see in the THM world. It is important to know these terms when you are sifting through all the THM recipes on Pinterest.
E for energizing. These are meals that contain up to 45 grams of net carbs. Net carbs is the number of total carbs minus grams of fiber. You are allowed no more than 5 grams of fat in an E meal. This is where you will have your oatmeal, fruit, fat free plain Greek yogurt, starchy veggies (no white potatoes) ect. And most store bought breads are not acceptable.
S for satisfying. S meals are allowed to have more fats in them, but not more than 10 net carbs. So S meals are where you get to cook with butter/oil, have cheese, fattier meats and the like. A lot of the really good meals you see on Pinterest will probably be S meals. But it is important to get some E meals in sometimes!
FP for fuel pull. This is when you have no more than 5 grams of fat or 10 net carbs. These meals can sometimes give a fuel burning boost, but it’s important not to overdo these.
Crossover. This is when you have more than 5 grams of fat and more than 10 net carbs in a meal. These are not encouraged if you are trying to lose weight. When you reach your goal weight these are ok as long as they are the right kinds of fats and carbs.
No More Sugar
Sugar is not on the plan. The only forms of sweetener allowed are stevia, erythritol and xylitol. These are not absorbed by the bloodstream and don’t raise blood sugar. Which makes this a good plan for diabetics. If you are at goal weight, raw honey and even coconut sugar is ok on occasion.
I want you to have a good understanding of what you’re getting into if you’re considering this, so here are some of the common grievances against these sweeteners. But understand any of them will require some adjustment if you are used to regular refined sugar. Also, they will be a little pricier than plain white sugar.
Erythritol: This is a sugar alcohol and is a by-product of corn. It does not raise blood sugar and is not absorbed by the bloodstream. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar. Downside: It can leave a “cool” feeling in your mouth which some people dislike. It doesn’t bother me like it does my husband.
Xylitol: This is another sugar alcohol that does have a (very) small impact on blood sugar, but is still ok on the plan. It is about the same sweetness as sugar and probably tastes the closest, BUT it is not for everyone.
Downside: Some people report mild to severe discomfort in their digestive system when consuming xylitol. Also, xylitol is known to be toxic to dogs. So please tread carefully with this sweetener. It doesn’t cause me digestive distress personally, but I use it mainly for my homemade toothpaste, since it is reported to be beneficial for oral health.
Stevia: Stevia is gaining popularity in the natural food world and if you have a good, pure stevia powder, a little goes a long way. It is best mixed with other sweeteners. Downside: It tends to leave a bit of a weird aftertaste if you use too much. Also, it can be difficult to find a good stevia powder, as many have added fillers or are more bitter than others.
Most Trim Healthy Mama recipes call for a combination of these.
For more on baking and on plan sweeteners, see my post on Baking on Trim Healthy Mama.
Who This Plan is Good For?
If you have been eating grain free or paleo, this lifestyle is easily adopted. You will probably just use starchy vegetables as your carbs. Those who abide by the paleo philosophy will likely take issue with the use of erythritol and xylitol and some of the convenience foods. But if you are an avid follower of the paleo diet, you are probably happy with where your health/weight is.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you may struggle with this diet because it can be hard to get sufficient protein at each meal. I would not say it is impossible, but it will limit your food options a lot more. You can read about Serene’s journey into and out of veganism and raw eating in the Trim Healthy Mama book.
If you have been using Weight Watchers, you may have to adjust your thinking. You don’t need to count calories or “points” on Trim Healthy Mama, but you will need to be aware of fat grams and net carbs. You don’t have to keep track of them all–just be aware of which foods fall under an ‘S’ setting and which fall under an ‘E.’ Much easier than counting calories and tracking points, if you ask me.
If you have been on a low fat diet, it may go against your instinct to eat large amounts of fat–even good ones, like avacadoes and coconut oil. Your body needs good fat though. I’m not talking about transfats, which should be avoided, but healthy ones found in nature. The results of thousands attests to that.
If you have tried the Atkins diet, you can incorporate many of those recipes into an S setting. Trim Healthy Mama is more forgiving than Atkins and you can have carbs in an E setting.
Those who will probably see the best result with this plan are so-called Drive Thru Sues. This is a term you will hear a lot in the THM world and this is the term used for someone who is/was dependent on convenience foods. This group will probably struggle the most with the lifestyle change of healthier eating, but they likely also see the most success with this plan. Most of the success stories I have seen claimed they started out as Drive Thru Sues.
Objections to the THM “Diet” Plan
Trim Healthy Mama is not without its opponents and I have seen a couple blog posts raising their issues with Trim Healthy Mama. If you think this might be you, please try to check the book out from the library to get a feel for if it is something you would use. At $30, it is a little on the pricey side for a book you won’t get much use out of.
One negative post I read was from someone who objected to the use of things like the sweeteners mentioned above, defatted peanut flour, low carb pasta and egg beaters. Also, she took issue with honey being discouraged on the plan. THM clearly states they are not against raw honey, but it needs to be used in moderation, especially when losing weight.
She further goes on to say people should stick to real, whole foods. Which is true and, in fact, encouraged in Trim Healthy Mama. But people who have struggled with this way of eating have found a way to make the transition easier by being told what they can have and not only what they can’t. That way they may be able to stick with it instead of throwing their hands up in frustration and giving up.
The other post I read was from someone who had some initial success, but because of an excessive use of “Fuel Pulls,” started to see some negative health results. Also, she said keeping track of her carbs, fats, etc, got too stressful for her.
Ok, the book says (multiple times I believe) that you are not supposed to overdo the fuel pulls. They are meant to be an occasional thing, especially for meals. Using them constantly (as this person was doing) can be detrimental to your health. And the book says this. And while you do have to keep an eye on fats and carbs, it does not require as much calculation as some other point/calorie counting programs.
Most of the book is about the eating plan itself, but toward the end of the book the authors branch out into other areas. Pearl and Serene both share their stories and you will probably relate to the struggles of one or the other.
Serene shares her journey to the extremes of “healthy” eating (raw, vegan) and Pearl shares her struggles with sugary, processed foods. They finally ended up at the same place.
Then they go into talking about exercise, supplements and get reeeaally personal about…let’s just call it the marital relationship. Seriously, Pearl’s candor might make some of you blush. Just thought I should give you fair warning. 😉
To Help You On Your Journey
If you decide you want to get started with Trim Healthy Mama, here are some online resources that may be helpful.
The Trim Healthy Mama Official Store. This is where you can pick up your book as well as things like oat fiber, THM stevia and their THM baking blend. They do charge shipping for their products so keep that in mind. Even so, it is currently the best place to get oat fiber, pure stevia and their low-carb baking blend. If you see the baking blend available you should go ahead and jump on it, as it tends to sell out quickly. Oat Fiber and other things are available on Vitacost at a good price, but their free shipping threshold is also higher than Amazon’s. But if you have other things to buy on Vitacost, go for it! The THM website does tend to have the most reasonable prices on some things and you know everything they sell is up to their standards.
In my THM Amazon Store you’ll find some more things that are recommended on THM or at least plan-friendly. A few things are things I feel are better deals than the THM website, but most are just not sold there. Some things you may be able to find cheaper in your health food store, grocery store, or even Walmart, but I will try to make them easy for you to find here, should you choose to get them on Amazon.
If you want moral support and a place to ask questions, join the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group and/or the Trim Healthy Mama forums. These groups are great for keeping motivated and sharing success stories. If you like, you can join the facebook group before making the decision to commit to the THM and get a feel for if you think this is the program for you. They also share lots of other recipes and resources there.
Then of course there is Pinterest. Who is not addicted to Pinterest? Of course, there is the official Trim, Healthy Mama board, and then I’ve got my own Pinterest board of Trim, Healthy Mama friendly recipes. It’s a work in progress!
And there are a few blogs that are very popular among THM-ers. Gwen’s Nest has a ton of great recipes and helpful tips and info for working with Trim, Healthy Mama. Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen, and Briana Thomas also have some great recipes and Darcie’s Dishes is wonderful for Trim Healthy Mamas on a budget.
I hope this post has provided some good info to get you started on Trim Healthy Mama. I hope to eventually do other posts to help you on the plan and I also hope to adapt some of my recipes to be THM friendly. Or add new ones.
If you’ve tried THM, be sure to share your tips with us!
Part of the collage above uses an image courtesy of nixxphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net