Trim Healthy Mama (THM)…either you hear about it everywhere or you’ve never heard of it…that seems to be my experience with most people. I had read a tiny bit about it online as I was reading about Whole 30 and trying to figure out my awful eczema rash and what to do about it. I didn’t think too much about it but thought it might be interesting. It sounded kind of “faddy” and probably not conducive to real food and real life for the long haul. But something caused me to see if my library system carried the book. The library had the book but I was number thirty-seven in line to read it…so I requested the book and then forgot about it!
At the end of the summer of 2014 (August/September) I did the Whole 30, mostly to see if my eczema was a food related issue but also hoping to loose a bit of weight. I had suspected, but discovered for sure, that my eczema would flare with any sugar consumption. I also only lost about 3 pounds. I felt good. My body seemed more stable…less craving and blood sugar spikes. But for me it wasn’t something I wanted to stick too…no grains and my body seems to want grains for breakfast…no dairy, I like milk in my coffee and cheese! No sugar…sometime you just have to have some chocolate!
I felt like I was quite healthy…all blood work was great, I could be active with my kids, I exercise, but still was carrying extra weight, mostly around my middle. It seemed like nothing was going to work: I exercised, was strong and healthy, but still carried extra weight. I ate a healthy diet, real food, whole grains, healthy fats, low sugar, lots of fruits and veggies, but still carried extra weight.
So life went on. September came and we started homeschooling again, church activities started, potty training, cooking, cleaning, etc. At the end of October I received an email notice from the library that a book I had requested was ready to pick up…enter Trim Healthy Mama.
First of all, I read the “old” book and it is HUGE, 600 pages! Thankfully, I didn’t need to read it all at once and a large chunk of the book is recipes, but still overwhelming at first glance! Some people may find this book hard/annoying to read because it is written by two sisters (Serene and Pearl) and they spend to entire book talking to each other (so you can “listen” in). It is very conversational and sometimes a bit rambling but it actually does feel like you are chatting with them in your living room!
Thankfully, there is a new revised Trim Healthy Mama book, which is much less cumbersome to read and much clearer. The recipes were also removed and placed into a separate Trim Healthy Mama cookbook. The cookbook is beautiful and full of new recipes (over 300!) You can buy BOTH new books for the same price as the single old book. I would highly recommend buying both books, even if you have the old book. But you don’t need to read the whole thing before you begin…here is a quick (and oversimplified) summary:
There are three main components to the food we eat: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates.
Protein is mainly used to build and repair muscles and body systems. Your body can use protein as energy but it isn’t your body’s first choice. A high protein and very low carbohydrate or “no” carbohydrate diet can cause weight loss but many people find this kid of diet does not something they can maintain long term. Using protein as your main fuel can also sends you body into ketosis, which for some people with certain medical issues is a good thing…but not beneficial for most people for the long haul.
Fat is used by your body to support and repair your nervous system and endocrine system. Your body needs healthy fats for hormone production. Fat also tastes good and keeps you feeling satisfied.
Carbohydrates are most easily used by your body as fuel. Carbohydrates can be complex (whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes) or simple (sugar, refined flours, white rice). The THM book has a great explanation of how insulin works and how insulin and blood sugar swings cause weight gain. THM does not see carbs as evil and is not a “no” carb diet or even a “low” carb diet. It is a “lower” (than the standard American Diet) carb diet and a “complex carb” diet.
So, after all that explanation, here is the basic premise of THM:
Giving your body only one main fuel source (fat or carbs) at a time causes your body to much more completely use each fuel source and therefore not to store it as fat. Switching between fuel sources (fat and carbs) keeps your metabolism guessing and actually increases your metabolism which causes your body to reach into your fat stores for fuel thus causing you to loose weight! Some people and people in certain stages of life (growing children, pregnant and nursing moms, hard working men with fast metabolisms, etc) need to eat a combination of healthy fats and complex carbs at each (or most) meals. The new THM book has lots of good advice for making the THM lifestyle work for all stages and ages.
I got the THM book from the library at the end of October 2014 and started implementing the “plan” in early November. By January 2015 I had lost 15 pounds and one jeans size! And that was without following the plan perfectly (hello holiday season!). My weight loss slowed greatly (this is common) and by May 2015 and I had lost another five pounds and dropped another jeans size. I have been living my version of the THM lifestyle over 18 months now. I’ve lost 5 more pounds and another jeans size. I have found ways to make the THM lifestyle work for me and my family. I don’t worry about perfection but am able to stay “on plan” most of the time.
Many people I talk to who have tried it have experienced weight loss but find it hard to keep up the plan while also cooking for a family and living life. I think they just need some tools and systems to help them adapt family favorite recipes to be THM friendly.
So, stay tuned for how I live a THM lifestyle as well as tools and systems to help you simplify your life in the kitchen — even if you don’t follow THM!