I know that’s an overused, and somewhat trite expression, but I absolutely mean it. It is a life changing book. I *thought* that I had a fairly good understanding of food and nutrition prior to cracking the book, but I knew there were huge gaps in my food knowledge…namely between the practical application of said knowledge and my blossoming waistline.
Speaking of which, you can see all of my before and after photos here:
This book changed all that for me. I’m not going to sugar coat it…this is not an “easy” of “quick weight loss” type of diet. It’s written as an eye opening, lifestyle change that will dramatically alter the way you think about and interact with food in great ways! But I love that it’s flexible enough to allow you to tailor it to your own personal standards of food purity or convenience, and personal tastes.
So today, I will give you a taste of the book, and a look at some of the yummy foods I’m eating on THM.
*Update: The giveaway is closed.*
And at the end of this post, one person will WIN a free copy of the e-book version of their choice! More details below!
I want to go over the key points of the amazing Trim Healthy Mama way of eating…really more “way of life.” First, I’ll start out giving you a brief overview of the plan, and then talk about some of the challenges and benefits. And then we’ll talk about the rest of the book content and all the nitty gritty questions that you might have.
Finally, I’ll share my FAVORITE things about THM. AND I have a gift for you if you want to try THM…I wrote an unofficial (but sanctioned by the authors) Quick Start Guide for Trim Healthy Mama, and a handy little weight loss tracking chart! Those are linked at the bottom of this book review. READY? Let’s go!
Trim Healthy Mama Book Review
So, let’s first take a look at this book. To start, it’s 650 pages. But don’t let that discourage you! It’s written by two sisters (both avid health and wellness researches) over a 5 year period, and it does not read like a college level nutrition textbook. Although
Both Pearl and Serene frequently go back and forth throughout the book to express their views on different issues, so instead of getting a one-sided view, you actually get a wider range of (and sometimes opposing) opinions on many of life’s important issues…like the best way to fix coffee, and whether or not to have sardines with breakfast. And you will find that you probably naturally gravitate toward one of their opinions over the other.
Because of the conversational tone and length of the book, some have struggled with the writing style. But many ladies on the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group have said that they were actually sad to finish the book, because they felt like they’d become friends with the authors. So, don’t get freaked out about how long the book is…it’s a fun read!
What Is the Diet Part All About?
I’m glad you asked.
Pearl and Serene have tried, failed, and tweaked almost every fad diet version out there. Maybe you have too. I’ve seen and participated in my fair share. What they found is not a way to simply “lose weight fast”…they’ve discovered the science behind how to control your weight through combining fuels that the body uses. Namely, fats and carbs.
BUT, you’re not removing ANY food groups from the diet to accomplish this, so you’re able to achieve long term, optimal nutrition from ALL the foods God made (including coffee & chocolate). Awesome.What it IS…Trim Healthy Mama is low glycemic LIFESTYLE. (OK, so maybe that doesn’t sound less overdone than diet?) But it really is a change in the way you see and use food that can be lifelong.
The Trim Healthy Mama plan is not “low carb” but “controlled carb”. Ditto with the fats & calories. AND (little happy dance) there is next to no “counting” of anything. Just like learning to drive a stick shift, it seems *so* complicated at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy. It becomes instinctive. And, once you “get it”, you can apply these principles anytime, anywhere, on the fly, in a fast food joint, etc. No sweat.
So, what this looks like in real life is that you have a protein and veggie ‘core’ to meals and a protein source with snacks. You then pair with “S” or “E” style foods, depending on what your body needs, or what’s available to you. And if you’re not that hungry, or are looking to really push some weight loss, you can stay in that Fuel Pull…or FP “zone”. Anyone can do this. Anyone.
Let’s talk more about what S, E, and FP mean…
S stands for satisfying, and these are going to be the comfort foods that have naturally occurring fats. If your tummy is growling, the S foods will really satisfy you on a deep level.
Your body really *needs* these healthy oils and fats. They’re key building blocks for the endocrine system. Did you know that a good portion of your brain, nerve cells, and even the hormones to run your body are fats/lipids? The delicious and healthy fat sources in S meals will give your body the building blocks it needs to nourish the body systems that depend on fats.
This is S…
My Spaghetti Pie recipe is here.
E stands for energizing…our muscles favorite fuel is glucose, and the brain’s ONLY energy source is glucose or sugar. No WONDER it’s so addicting in large amounts! If we’re low in glucose, then we’re going to feel flat and very low energy. On the other hand, if we have too much sugar, too regularly, then the body wisely stores away the excess…guess where. In FAT cells! So too much sugar makes us flabby and very low energy.
The Trim Healthy Mama plan is like Golidlocks…it gets the sugar balance JUST RIGHT. My favorite E foods are fruits, low glycemic grains and breads. This is a delicious E soup from the book:
This is a recipe from the book that I tried and really enjoyed!
To really push your body to new weight loss lows, Fuel Pull meals and snacks are very low in both fuels. Fuel pull ingredients are very versatile! The foods on the FP list can be paired with EITHER S or E meals, or eaten alone. Fuel pull meals and ingredients are the B.F.F. of women who are slow losers, who are post-menopausal, or who have hormone imbalance that usually causes women to fail at other types of diets. There are plenty of delicious FP options that will truly FILL your tummy…no more feeling hungry after you’ve just eaten. This is one of my favorite FP breakfasts/snacks!
It’s SO easy to make your own fruit or berry syrup…here’s how I make a sugar free berry syrup!
This Lemon Yogurt recipe is one of my favorite snacks!
What Else Is In the Book?
Pearl and Serene spend a lot of time explaining the pitfalls of the most common fad diets, and then science behind how the THM way of eating works, and then they bring it to life in the amazing recipe section.
I’ve seen several people balk at not only the size of the book, but also the
$35 price tag. *Update* It’s only $29.99 now! I can understand that. But I tell them, “It’s like getting a whole mini-library of books in one package.” You get:
- a book that explains insulin resistance
- a fad diet theory critique and review
- the THM diet plan explained
- a fantastic recipe book
- a Fuel Cyle one week plan for stubborn weight loss
- a book on hormone balance and marital harmony
- a mini book and great recommendations on natural skin care
- and an inspiring book on how and why efficient and effective exercise should be a part of your everyday life.
Plus, you get to hear the life stories of Pearl and Serene. Which puts such a personal and engaging spin on how they both came to this point in their health journey.
You’ll find the peach syrup recipe here.
And if you follow along on their facebook fanpage or in the THM facebook group or forum, you’ll quickly realize that these busy Mama’s care deeply about the your success on this plan. They are answering questions, continuously posting encouraging stories, recipes and successes, and staying very in touch with their readers.
As you can see from the photos I’ve been sharing,
This Mint Chip milkshake, for example, rocks my world. You really would never know it’s sugar free!
Here’s my favorite spot to find great Trim Healthy Mama recipes: join the Latest and Greatest THM Recipes pinterest board featuring my favorite THM Bloggers!
And if you’re into chocolate like I am, there is no shortage of chocolate recipes to try.
This is Skinny Chocolate! You should make some. Seriously. I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to Skinny Chocolate variations.
Let’s get down to the real dirt, now.
- What are the pitfalls?
- What will you have to give up?
- Are there gross foods I have to eat?
- Is this just another fad deals that loses its luster when you try to put it into practice?
- What about cheating?
- What types of fancy foods or appliances do I have to buy?
- Can I do this if our family is gluten free, or has allergies?
I’m so glad you asked.
Pitfalls: a Steep Learning Curve
First, I’m going to be really honest with you. For myself, learning to think about food in terms of it being “carb” or “fat” took a pretty steep learning curve. A lot of these concepts were not something I was used to applying, like EVER…especially when my snack urge hit, so I had to THINK about food a WHOLE lot more than I wanted to at first. Remember what I said about driving a stick shift? Yeah. It will take a minute to get your brain and body wrapped around what you’re doing. This easy E style bread is the most popular on my blog…you’ll see why when you try it! It makes a KILLER pizza crust, as well as MANY other variations. I’m really glad that they added a BIG recipe section to the book…I was able to try out new recipes as I learned my way around. I could make up a batch of emergency snack rations, or a delicious berry smoothies in minutes. Also, the Facebook group files have been a HUGE help. Several ladies have invested a nice chunk of time in organizing lists of all the recipe types. (Bless you for that!) And there are loads of helpful tips, recipes, and questions over there. It’s been one of my favorite hang outs lately. *update* I first posted this review in early 2014, and the Facbook community and files have grown and grown and grown!
Gross Foods? You Can’t MAKE Me Eat THAT!
There are a few other pitfalls that have to do with previous food beliefs and preferences. I’ve noticed that a lot of the ladies who really value healthy fats and whole foods really have a mental battle over buying or using low or non fat items for E meals. Also, those who love bread <raising hand> don’t love some of the eggy or flaxy bread substitutes in the book. There are those who are allergic to Stevia or those who just think Stevia is the devil…etc. etc. The great news here is that you don’t have to go against your own tastes and convictions when putting together your foods and meals. No one is forcing me to eat flaxy-eggy breads. I won’t throw stevia packets at you. And if you’re allergic to a certain food or food group *please* listen to your own body and work the plan for your own best health. I do find it a good and refreshing thing to re-think through some of my long-held convictions on foods. For instance, if I lived 200 years ago, and skimmed a gallon of milk to make butter, I would not throw away the low fat milk…I’d enjoy it cultured into yogurt or in a recipe, even if I didn’t care to drink it. Definitely worth considering that even whole foods are and always have been routinely processed even in kitchens of old. You’ll learn how to tab your own book in the Quick Start Guide below!
What Foods/Drinks Do I Have to Give Up?
There are some foods that are just too high glycemic to work with the THM lifestyle, even after you’re at goal weight. Then there are other foods that you just give up or cut way back on while working toward a weight loss goal. This list combines both types. Some of these are very healthy and natural foods that I’m happy for my kids to have as a part of their diet…their little growing bodies can handle it. My body…not so much. And some of these are foods or combinations of foods that I’m giving up temporarily as I’m losing weight, and can add back in, in moderation, to maintain a healthy weight after I reach my goals. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the list is pretty short. However, depending on how your diet is now, it may be a pretty big chunk of foods going out the window with this first one:
- simple carbohydrates…especially sweet carb filled drinks. *sniff* R.I.P. Dr. Pepper. And juice. And even my lovely farm fresh milk.
I know, I know…that hurts. Let’s just get this over with quick, like ripping off a band-aid. While you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t want to include…
- large servings of high carb fruits (bananas, pineapple, watermelon, dried fruits)
- sugar and sugary things…and that includes natural sugars like honey and maple syrup. Anything that will quickly spike your blood sugar and fat storing insulin levels is not on plan.
- Most storebought breads, cookies, fast food etc. a.k.a “junk food”
- White potatoes or products made with them (potato chips); but you can have sweet potatoes!
- Corn and corn products…but you CAN have popcorn as a snack!
- foods that combine fats and sugar/carbs/breads. Buy-bye burger buns, stuffed crust pizza, and drippy buttered popcorn.
*Deep Breath* Are you still with me? YES! You are. I mean, you CAN be. You can do this! Because, know what?
And I promise you, it’s not going to be as hard one month from now as it looks right now. This is the *easiest* diet I’ve ever, ever done. And you know what else? One month from now, you’ll be feeling SO much better, you may have already lost a few pounds, and you’ll be LOTS more comfortable with the new recipes and ingredients you’re going to be working with. There are so many other wonderful health benefits to going low glycemic, that I just know you’re going to feel SO much better, even after just 2 weeks on this new way of eating. Here is the good news: there are still some great products that you CAN have if you love pasta, sweet drinks, and breads. And they won’t negatively affect your waistline and blood sugars. It took me a minute to find my favorite new treats on the plan, but I’ve found some really amazing sugar free desserts, low carb drink recipes, and really delicious snacks that totally fulfill my sweet tooth. Print out the quick start guide below for my best treats and recipe picks! Most importantly, once I got past that first week of carb-withdrawal, I didn’t MISS any of the junk…my energy levels and health improved so much that I didn’t even want it anymore. I passed THE gold standard test…driving through the Krispy Kreme drive through WITH hot-light on, and I wasn’t tempted OR angry! I really almost had to pinch myself!
Isn’t This a Fad Diet, Too?
I mean, nobody can actually LIVE this way and enjoy it long term, right? Wrong. This is my current favorite grill recipe: Greek Burgers…a healthy S!
It really becomes SO much easier as you go along, that it does become truly a lifestyle change in the whole way that you think about and pair foods. I can see this being a really realistic long-term way of eating, and can’t imagine going back to using food like I was before. I’ve always had a high metabolism, but with my parathyriod and hormone issues, I had packed on weight that wasn’t budging. Somehow, THM has re-awakened my metabolism, and I’ve been able to lose weight pretty quickly. But that will vary from person to person. Some just have slower metabolisms, have more to lose, or are facing different health challenges, and some will even need to pursue medical help. Others may just need to seriously tweak things to work for their health, and live this way for a few years to really move the scales back to where they are at their healthiest weight. But it’s SO worth it! No matter how slowly or quickly you lose, that is the rate that your body is comfortable going at, and you are going to eventually get there while getting to eat TOTALLY amazing food…I mean LOOK at this food. This is not what “denying yourself” looks or tastes like. Cheeseburger Quesadillas = MAN pleasing food!
What about Cheating?
This is the thing…eating THM style is something that you can pick right back up if you accidentally mess up and make a meal that’s not on plan. You want to go out to dinner with your honey to your favorite Schnitzel house for your anniversary? No biggie. Some people get really derailed by allowing too many ‘cheats’ or go through a stressful time like moving, where they are just not capable of putting the time into it. But once you’ve “learned” THM, it’s not hard to just jump back on plan. I think it’s really best to take stock of your own personal weaknesses in determining whether or not you’re going to “cheat”. Pearl and Serene are on opposite sides of the see-saw on this one, and discuss it in the book. Personally, the thrill of trimming back my waistline and scales has been enough motivation to keep me on track 99.9% of the time. If I choose to dual fuel, I don’t consider that a “cheat”…you’re on plan with a crossover. I *REFUSE* to have guilt if I *do* cheat with something naughty, since I am on plan 99.9ish% of the time. If you end up cheating, you can console yourself with this Cookie Dough Dip [S]
Do I Have to Buy Fancy Diet Foods or Kitchen Appliances?
No. You do not. In the book, Pearl and Serene do invite you into their kitchens, and show you lots of other fun ingredients that you may or may not be interested in. Don’t get sidetracked trying to get ALL the products. I’ll show you the two items I bought to get started, and one of them is available at your grocery store. The “too many weird ingredients” doesn’t need to be an issue with THM. I’ve seen ladies who are not using any of the specialty foods that are discussed in the book. Either because they just don’t want to, or because they are unavailable where they live. This way of eating is completely do-able for anyone, anywhere they are living, and with whatever food sources you have available to you. I have bought very few products online, and added only one or two items per month starting out, and they lasted. But 99.9% of what I buy is purchased at my local grocery store. Now, all that to say, if you *want* sweets, then the packets or small jar (NOT the baking blend bag) of Truvia 0r similar stevia sweetener or a good quality Stevia EXTRACT is a really awesome thing to have on hand.
This one…in the little shaker jar. Update: the stevia extract that they recommend in the book has been reformulated (Boo! Hiss!) This is what I use now: Better Stevia by NOW foods…it’s good. You get 2 one ounce bottles for a great price. One thing to be aware of, if you are used to the other brand, is that the NOW is fluffier. So your bottle will be twice as full if you’re used to the old version, and you’ll use twice as much, approx. to get the same sweetness.
No, it does not taste nasty like artificial sweetener unless you use WAY too much. I have a few tips on using Stevia, and a review of the THM brand here. Because you use so little of it- literally a dash or three for each dish. It really lasts. I know some of you have been burned by bad stevia. There is lots of it out there. Some brands of stevia taste *really* bad…artificial and bitter. These do not. Give it a shot. If you have concerns about stevia’s origins or naturalness, check out this post I wrote on stevia safety. Update: The THM website now has a whole line of top notch products at great prices! I love their stevia and sweet blend among other things. Here’s my (affiliate link) to the THM store! Or you can check out some of my favorite brands and products in my affiliate Amazon THM Store right here on my website (under the THM menu tab!)
The one other thing that you might not find at the grocery store that I absolutely LOVE is the gluccomannan powder. *crickets* What…you don’t have that? I had never heard of it either. I bought mine off of Amazon, but you can find it in the THM store as well…they even carry an organic glucomannan. It’s this really cool powder made from an Asian root that has NO carbs, and NO fats, and is an amazing thickener! The black cherry syrup, peach syrup & puddings I’ve shown you…all thickened with gluccomannan! Not even a granule of added sugar in them. The book gives several recipes for puddings, and other nummy things made with “gluccie”. My personal favorite is the NO FAT gravy made with my homemade chicken or turkey broth and gluccomannan. SO delicious! Every week, I make this beautiful sugar free berry syrup to top pancakes, breakfast muffins, cheesecake, and 0% Greek yogurt with. Delish, and TOTALLY Fuel Pull, weight burning, LEGAL and nutritious. No guilt! So, my first total investment in online “diet food” was under $25, and it lasted me 2 1/2 months. (And that was for small bottles…I now buy in bulk and it lasts me MUCH longer, and is even cheaper!) I’d say that’s not too bad. I’m gradually adding one to two items per month to experiment and play with as my budget allows. So far, it’s a thumbs up on the peanut butter flour, and protein powder (See the THM store or my Amazon store for best brands). But these are just optional choices to make some fun treats. A majority of what I make is with regular grocery store ingredients…and from my own family favorite recipes that I tweak to be on plan. A lot of the recipes do call for the blender, and some for a food processor. I have enjoyed using my immersion blender for many of the blender recipes, but any normal blender will work for THM. All of my current appliances have come to me second hand or from garage sales or thrift stores. (it’s how I roll…I prefer vintage style and quality!) So if you really want a blender or a food processor, then that’s a great place to find one without breaking the bank. *Update* I’ve had the chance to review a Blendtec, and MAN they are amazing. If you are big into smoothies (and want them really smooth) and are on the market, be sure to check them out.
What if we’re GF/CF/DF/EF…etc. Can I still do Trim Healthy Mama?
Absolutely. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about how to bake GF goodies with the recipes in their book. If you’ve always considered trying to go gluten free, then Trim Healthy Mama would be a great intro to the world of GF baking. If you’re a veteran allergen free cook, then you’ll love that the THM recipes are almost exclusively gluten free already, AND low glycemic to boot. Either way, you’d just skip the store bought tortillas and pasta, and go for some of the other alternatives in the book. You can really tailor the THM principles to ANY type of diet. AND, there is an THM Allergen Free Facebook support group, full of Mama’s who are excellent at tweaking recipes!
My Top 5 FAVORITE Things about Trim Healthy Mama:
- I am FINALLY using and enjoying the healthy superfood ingredients that were sitting in my pantry.
- I’m not a slave to sugar cravings any longer. <fist pump> I feel great, and I know what I’m eating is positively affecting my health.
- I’m saving a LOT a the grocery store by skipping snacky-junk foods, and am now able to buy really great quality meat and eggs, and some of the new-to-me ingredients that Serene and Pearl recommend.
- I’m LOSING WEIGHT and eating really great food!
- For the first time EVER, I understand how to use food, and can teach my kids a lifestyle that will lead to health and enjoyment of food, instead of connecting good foods to guilt and weight gain.
NOW…Here are some little goodies I made for you. I wish I’d have had a Quick Start Guide when getting started, and I also made you this weight loss tracking chart. Enjoy! Did I cover everything you needed to know in this Trim Healthy Mama book review? If not, leave me your questions in the comments below…or come over to the facebook group and get lots more input and opinionations. If you’ve made it this far, you may want to pin this baby and share the inspiration!
Update: The Trim Healthy Mama e-book giveaway is now closed.
To buy your copy of the Trim Healthy Mama book, either in softcover or any of the e-book options, head over to TrimHealthyMama.com (affiliate link) Book tip: The book is long and I really prefer a paper version over a .pdf for reading. But I am LOVING my .pdf e-book as a backup copy! I can search for things, and even print out my favorite recipes for my recipe binder! And I can loan out my hard copy book to friends now too. Follow me on Pinterest and never miss a recipe! Follow Gwen’s Nest Follow Gwen’s Nest’s board Gwen’s Nest Healthy Recipes on Pinterest.