Trim Healthy Mama Q&A

Ask-GwenYou know Trim Healthy Mama is my THANG if you’ve been around here at all.  I’ve reviewed the book, tracked my progress, written articles, and posted lots of recipes.  But today on Trim Healthy Tuesday, I’d just like to focus on your questions about the plan, the book, the food…anything you want to ask.

I opened the floor on my Facebook page, and here are the great questions I received this week:


Jessica M. asks, “How important is snacking? I prefer eating 3 meals a day and maybe an evening dessert/snack. Is that detrimental to my metabolism or weight loss goals?”

A. My rule of thumb on snacks is that I shoot for eating every 3 hours or so…no more than 4 hours between eating.  The reason behind this is that the body really is amazingly equipped at ‘adjusting’ your blood sugar levels and metabolic rate if you go too long without fueling.

Your brain runs (pretty much exclusively) off of glucose, so your body stores it for times of need. If you’ve ever had a sugar spike and crash when you’ve skipped breakfast, then you know that shakey, magnified-nerves on edge feeling of your blood sugar skyrocketing and then crashing.  Your body releases stored glucose from your liver and muscles in an effort to ‘feed’ the brain.

If you push yourself into this position often enough, the metabolism down-regulates, so you’re using less fuel overall, and storing more to compensate for ‘starvation’ periods.  You REALLY don’t want to suppress your metabolic rate if you’re trying to lose weight.  Trust me.  This was the pattern I was stuck in prior to Trim Healthy Mama, and I probably ate fewer calories overall back then, and had HORRIBLE blood sugar fluctuations.  NO MORE!

So: short answer- work meals and snacks into your schedule every 3-4 hours, providing a mix of S or E fueled meals to keep that metabolism BURNING hot, and mix in FP’s to pull deeper from your stored fuel (aka chub).  You can adjust your meals and snacks to fit your daily routine or lack thereof…THM can be totally personalized to your lifestyle.

Some days, it helps me to set a timer, or to keep easy snacks on hand in the fridge, like the yummy lemon or choco puddings above (pp 366-367).  I make a big batch and pour them into 1 cup jars for us to grab at snack time.


Shelly S-P.  asks, “What is the best snack to fight fatigue?

A. My favorite ‘slump’ snack is a piece of fruit and an iced coffee with a bit of protein powder stirred in.  I love fruit, and I find that it’s a great pick me up in the afternoon to have a ripe peach, and sip something cold and delicious.


Karlie Gaskins asks, “So you can never just grab and have a piece of fruit for a snack again? It always has to have a protein with it?”

A. Well, the rule of thumb is that snacks and meals should have a protein base, but that’s not written in stone.  I’d say “most” of your snacks and meals should have a decent protein source.  Like the book says, I sometimes snack on popcorn, or just grab a piece of fruit, but I find that adding in some protein really curbs my appetite for much longer, so I can last that 2.5-3 hours between meals that you want to shoot for.

Trim Healthy Mama book review (11)

JoAnna C. asks, “what is the best vanilla to use to get rid of the sweetener after taste?”

A. Ew…I REALLY dislike aftertaste, and I’m super sensitive to it.  I find that the trick with aftertaste is finding a REALLY good stevia, and not overdoing it.  I don’t think adding other flavors really helps much if your sweetener is bitter or has an off flavor.

Stevia has a ‘weak’ sweetness that doesn’t do a very good job covering over bitter flavors in food (cocoa is a good example), so using a blend of erythritol and stevia sometimes helps with this.  Adding just a pinch of salt to your recipes will really round out the ‘weak’ flavor of stevia as well.  I always start small with my measurements of stevia, and build to a good sweetness.

So far, I’ve loved NuNaturals original formula (which they’ve now CHANGED…BOO!  HISS!), and the NOW Better Stevia Extract.  The NOW stevia is fluffier, so you get about 30-50% more in the jar, and you have to use about 30-50% more shakes to get the same sweetness.

I have found that I really prefer the taste of my own homemade ‘truvia’ made with 1 cup of NOW Erythritol to 1/2 t. NOW Stevia.

As far as vanilla goes, I really like Simply Organic Brand or Frontier.  My VERY favorite, though is to buy some vanilla beans and soak them in some rum over the summer.  SO YUMMY!  You can find all of these items on page 3 of my Trim Healthy Mama Oils and Flavorings store. P1100730

Jennifer C. asks, “Is Oat Fiber the same thing as Oat Flour? *grin* I’ve been trying to find the answer to this for a while and can’t seem to find it.”

A. I’m SO glad you asked this!  We had a GREAT answer to this last week on Trim Healthy Tuesday.  Oat flour is not the same thing as oat fiber…check out this sweet video and comparison over on The Fruit of Her Hands.

The raspberry oatmeal cake above is made with oat flour…I tweaked this recipe from the Strawberry Shortcake Muffins over on the Dashing Dish.  I’m playing with the oat fiber that I bought through Amazon…it’s a great ingredient for Fuel Pull treats and baked goods!


Constance S. asks, “I keep eating muffin in a mug for breakfast. Could you please give me even one E breakfast? I am about 1/3 of the way through the book. By the way I celebrated the 4th of July with foods from your web site and they were great. Thanks.”


A.  Hi Constance!  I’d be happy to suggest some E breakfast choices!  The chapter on Breakfast grains has some fantastic E recipes including the Trim Healthy Pancakes (p. 223) pictured in this post.  I make peach ‘sugar free syrup‘ to go on them…SO delicious, and packed with protein!  I sometimes enjoy this breakfast with a piece of turkey sausage as well, to add just a little more protein and ‘holding power’ if you know you’ve got a busy morning lined up.

Another favorite for me is to make a ‘rice pudding’ with almond milk, and add cranberries to it. (see above) And it would just be WRONG if me to not mention Stacy’s AMAZING Baked Oatmeal Recipe, that’s totally my favorite right now.


The Cookie Bowl Oatmeal pictured here is a Fuel Pull option, but you can easily switch it to an E by adding half a piece of fruit.  It FILLS me up, though, so I might do half a bowl with half of an apple or orange.  This recipe is in the book on p. 232.  Hope you enjoy!


Amy D. confesses, “I have a hard time figuring out what is a carb..and what is a fat.”

A. I understand that…I had a hard time getting all of that into my brain at first.  I had never had to think of food in that way, and sadly, most of my foods contained lots of both carbs AND fats.  I’m a really visual learner, so I printed out the charts on the Facebook group and taped them into my cabinet to reference.

But I think an even better way to do it is to go check out the Trim Healthy Mama Pinterest Boards, and you’ll start to see themes emerging on the E and S boards.  The E and S chapters in the book will also give you a lot more ideas and recipes.  I PROMISE you, as you work through and start playing with recipes and foods, you’ll have a ‘click’ moment, and it’ll all seem SO much easier after that!


Shayna B. asks, “Gwen I would love to know if there is a way to figure out (Be it a formula or whatever) how to sub in things like glucomannan and xanthan gum, for things like cornstarch. I have some recipes that I think I could tweak to be on plan, but have been having an issue figuring that out. and thanks for being such a positive influence and a cheerleader for so many of us with questions.”

A. Hi Shayna!  I looked up a basic pudding recipe, and here’s what I found regarding converting cornstarch to xanthan gum.  The corn starch recipe used 1 1/2 tablespoons of starch to thicken a cup of milk.  The pudding recipe using xanthan gum used 3/4-1 teaspoon to one cup of liquid.  So that’s approximately a 5:1 ratio of corn starch to xanthan gum, if my math is correct.

Xanthan and gluccie can be used at a 1:1 ratio, and I’d suggest using 1/8th teaspoon per cup to start out, and going up from there.  The 1 teaspoon per cup ratio is going to give you a very thick end result.


Peta G. asks, “I’ve just started reading the book and I’m sure the answer is in there somewhere But was wondering about the whole xylitol v’s stevia thing. I like cooking with xylitol due to the similar consistency to sugar but was wondering if it is just as healthy.”

A. Hi Peta!  Yes, Xylitol is another great option that does not cause a rise in blood sugars or insulin.  The book talks more about using Erythritol, but they can really be used interchangeably.  I do like to caution people that some may have ‘bowel’ issues while adjusting their diet to Xylitol, so it’s best to start small.  Erythritol is usually a safe bet starting out.

Hope you enjoyed this post!  If you have a question for me about Trim Healthy Mama, please leave it in the comments, and I’ll do another installment of Ask Gwen about THM. :)

And now for LOTS more Trim & Healthy Inspiration…


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      • says

        Polenta is a pasta product, right? That would not be on plan, as it’s going to spike the blood sugar too quickly. Have you tried quinoa? It’s a seed, and is great as a seasoned side dish, but it’s a slow carb and a great E option.
        Horseradish is going to be a Fuel Pull food: not adding significant carbs or fats, so you can pair it with anything. :)

  1. Partyof5 says

    Hi, Gwen! Thanks so much for your posts. They are so helpful and encouraging. I do have a question though. Although the book says every meal should be based on a protein, it doesn’t particular identify “proteins”. Foods like quinoa, nuts, seeds, and beans have lots of protein, however, they are listed as either fats or carbs. How do I know if a food is a fat or a carb or a protein if it has more than one characteristic?

    • Its_Gwen says

      This is a great question! :)

      Since foods are made up of all different macro nutrient profiles, some will definitely be in both protein and S (fat fueled) categories. Steak for instance.

      Oats and beans (both E) have a smaller amount of protein, and since they’re plant based, they don’t contain a ‘complete’ protein or amino acid profile. It’s OK to occasionally rely on these as protein sources, but I find that adding in dairy (0% Greek yogurt for instance) helps the meal ‘stick’ with me longer, and provides the rest of the amino acids for a complete protein.

      Basically, you do want recognize the fuel (fat or carb) that a protein source is offering to the meal. Usually, seeds, nuts & animal products are S unless you’re using a defatted aspect like egg whites. Grains and beans are E.

  2. Cheryl says

    I have unbleached flour and I am on THM, so I went out and bought what I needed to make bread, and then discovered that we can’t use the unbleached white….(I’m kind of a purist) so my question is, could we use the unbleached white with some other flours like almond, flax or coconut and then would it be THM friendly? thanks

  3. Julie says


    I’m loving all the great info and recipes. I’m waiting for my THM book and am trying to start incorporating some of the basics into how I’m eating now. But my question is this… Can you eat fp , s , and e meals on the same day or are you supposed to keep them on separate days? Snacks also ?

  4. Kris White says

    Hi Gwen,

    I just started THM 1 month ago I think I’m a turtle I have only lost 3 lbs.. I have a question about your easy bread! Do you eat the bread with E meals & S meals? I’m confused about eating bread with an S meal. I love your blog!! I added the page markers it’s helped out a lot.

    Thanks, Kris

    • says

      Hi Kris,
      Easy Bread is an E food, so you really want to keep it in E meals. You could use one slice to add some healthy carbs to an S meal, and that’s considered an S helper meal. :)

  5. Kathy Tankersley says

    I made your easy bread recipe, fermented it for 7 days, it came out pretty good for the first time…my question, how much of it can I eat in a meal? A day? Thanks

    • says

      2 slices for an E setting and you can add one to an S meal to create an S helper. Per day? You’d just have to see how many carbs your body does well with. :) Enjoying it once or twice a day is probably great for most people. But be sure to mix up your carbs with fruits from time to time too. You want plenty of fruits and veggies happening.

      • says

        Great question, and sorry I missed it before. :) I’m not a numbers person, and there isn’t an official answer with numbers. So I’ll tell you from my perspective: I count a meal as a main protein with veggies and side dishes. I sit down to eat my meals. :) A snack is like a mini or light meal, but usually with only one or maybe two items served (and one of them is or contains protein), and I eat it usually standing at the counter in my kitchen.

        I don’t go “heavy” with every meal or snack, but occasionally I’ll enjoy a heavy meal or a heavy snack. I like to mix things up. :)

  6. Marsa says

    The link for the quick start guide is not working properly. I keep getting an error code: HTTP 404 Web server cannot find the file or script you requested. Please check the URL to ensure that the path is correct.

    Can this be corrected, please?
    THANK YOU!! :-)

  7. Lucie Stutts & BettyGene Haller says

    my sister and I have both been working hard to make your lifestyle change. She is retired and I work. We are trying to come up with a pantry last Staples. We would like to be able to come home look up a recipe and told her things out of our cupboard. Living in the south and having fresh veggies available a short trip is no problem. Hunting down a certain flower or a certain product that will only be carried at a certain store is a problem. I shop a lot on Amazon. Actually I bought two books of yours on Amazon. One for each of us. If you have this coming out in your new recipe book that will be great. If not where can we find one or has anyone made one and can we have a copy we have love this new lifestyle change. Having just the two of us live in the house has made it so easy on each other. We really thank you both very much

    • says

      Hi Lucie & BettyGene! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)
      I’m actually not one of the authors of the Trim Healthy Mama book, but I’ve been doing THM since very early on, and have provided some helps and lots of recipes that work with the plan. :)

      Have you seen the THM Quick Start Guide that I put together? It does contain a shopping list with ideas on where to find products. As far as *what* to buy, that will really depend on how you do THM, and what types of recipes you like. If you’re doing lots of low carb baking, then the baking blend or buying the low carb flours (coconut, flax meal, almond) are a great move. But you can also keep it super simple, and just stick with meats, veggies, fruits, and items found in the grocery store.

      Hope that helps!

  8. says

    Hi Gwen. I’m a THM newbie. I’ve been on the plan for a week and am experiencing a bit of light headedness and super low energy. I have my E meal in the morning and my S meals later. I have a snack when I need one but I’m not sure what might be causing that feeling. Have any ideas?
    Thank you for your time.

    • says

      Sometimes people chalk it up to “detox” to getting off of sugar, but I think it’s important to dig a little deeper. Are you eating a healthy carb source with your E meals? That’s a common mistake when you start is to just go low fat and to not add the healthy carbs that offer that good “E” energy. :)

      The other thing to consider is the possibility of a food allergy or sensitivity. Do you notice feeling warm or cold after eating certain things? Is this your first time using stevia?


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