You 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.
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.
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 post I did that explains each oat product, including why oat fiber is different than oat flour and oat bran.
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.
If you like cakes and muffins, you can here’s a recipe for Banana Cream Cake, and a DELICIOUS Raspberrry Lemonade cake that are wonderful E breakfasts! We also love the Apple Cranberry Oatmeal as an E breakfast
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 (p. 232 in the Original book, or p. 249 in the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook) is a Fuel Pull option, but you can easily switch it to an E by adding half a piece of fruit. Pages 247 and 248 in the new cookbook offer other E variations on the them of oat bowls. A good bowl of oats like this FILLS me up, so I might do half a bowl with half of an apple or orange. 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.