I heard about Trim Healthy Mama when it first came out. My initial reaction was that 1) I did not want a restrictive, opinionated, Biblical-guilt-trip kind of diet book, and that 2) while the book said “no more fads!” on the cover, it was absolutely the latest dietary fad, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. “Everyone else is doing it?” Thanks, then, I’ll go the other way. I sneered at this book for about six months, honestly. I would just keep eating my mainly-whole-foods diet, and…keep gaining weight.
Then, my closest friends started singing the praises of Trim Healthy Mama. I’d get together for coffee with my besties, and most of the conversation was on what they’d read in the monolithic volume, how much weight they had actually lost without realizing it, the way some allergies had even been eased, and how they just ate lots of food.
Well, that’s everyone’s dream, right, just eat food and lose weight? For another six months, I waffled on it. I didn’t want to commit to something that would end in failure, and honestly, I was pretty committed to my baking habit, and didn’t want to give up the magic of flour and sugar and butter and eggs and an oven. Finally, after being honest about some pictures of myself, I decided that I would like to give it a try and used birthday gifts from those same friends to get the book.
Best health decision I have ever made.
Really and truly.
I wish I had just bought the book the moment I first heard about it.
I can’t tell you how many pounds I have lost while following Trim Healthy Mama, because I don’t know how much I weighed when I began. I really didn’t want to. So, I’m guessing that I’ve lost somewhere between thirty and forty pounds, and am now staying within a healthy BMI without a lot of pain and agony. My biggest victory was losing fear of the number on the scale, and I actually asked for a scale for my last birthday. It is not a thing of shame anymore. And clothes are a LOT more fun to shop for when things just fit!
I’ve come to regard Serene and Pearl, the sisters who co-authored this book, as older sisters of my own; smart, talkative, funny, relatable, and a little pushy now and then when it’s really important. Their conversational tone while writing their book, and the dialog between the two of them, helps this huge thing to be very readable. It was intimidating initially; now it’s just fun.
While Trim Healthy Mama is not effortless, it IS the easiest thing I have ever done that had results. It has been almost a year and a half since we began, and it is just a nice way of life for my family now. This is truly the most sustainable, reasonable way of eating, and I just love that I’m helping my daughter get started on her life with an understanding of how to work with food to maintain health, and not have a relationship of guilt with what she’s eating.
The Big Picture
I’m a big picture person, so getting the “jist” of the book quickly was important to me. There is a TON of research and information in this book, so it took me a few days of reading to simplify the whole idea in my head. Once I understood the larger framework for this style of eating, though, it was almost laughably simple to implement. It makes sense, and after a year and a half, and lots of pounds gone, I haven’t looked back. Here’s my big picture:
*Spiking our insulin causes most of our health problems. Inflammation and weight gain lead to all sorts of health-related issues, and the root cause is when our insulin gets too high.
*One way to spike our insulin is to eat simple carbs; white flour, sugar, white potatoes, white rice. These are terrible ingredients to put in our bodies.
*Another way to spike the insulin is by throwing too many fuels in our system at once. While we constantly need protein to keep functioning, we also need healthy carbs and good fats. However, when we have both carbs and fats in the same meal (and this is the basis for almost all American cooking), we will burn the fat and store the carbs. The way I put it to my husband: when we eat fats and carbs together, they get all happy in our systems and make little fat babies, which they then leave as orphans for us to take care of. I’m shutting down my fat orphanage, by keeping my food sources of fuel separate, so they don’t have a chance to reproduce.
It did take me a little time to get used to some of the ideas and implementation this system required. I spent the first month just cooking straight out of the book, to get a feel for how food kept either nearly fat- or carb-free looked and felt. I have heard a few complaints about the recipes included in the book, and from a sort-of-foodie background, I will admit to not being culinarily delighted, myself. HOWEVER, I think that these recipes are actually brilliant and important, and here’s why: they are “training” recipes. I have taught several classes on how to knit, and I never start with lace shawls. We always begin with the simplest of dishcloths. It is not an exciting project. There isn’t much room for artistic individuality, or aesthetic fulfillment. There isn’t meant to be. Knitting a dishcloth is just a basic way to learn the fundamentals of how to knit. In the same way, the recipes in Trim Healthy Mama taught me how to keep either carbs or fat low and still enjoy my food. I stuck to cooking just from the book for a month, then branched out on Pinterest, learned how to Google carb counts for basic ingredients so that I could adapt recipes, and really began to have fun.
One of the big–really big–mental transitions for me was in the area of baking. I have always considered baking an art form, and one that I was particularly adept in. Finding new cake recipes and making them for my family was an extension of my personal creativity, and homemade bread was a form of self-therapy. For a little while, I was worried that I would be giving up baking, and that was almost too much of a cost for me to follow Trim Healthy Mama. However, one of my internal conversations was about the main elements of baking that made it satisfying; did it have to contain white flour and sugar to bring me joy? Or could some of the interesting low-carb flours still help me find that sense of skill and fun that I wanted? The end result–a seriously yummy dessert–became my ultimate goal, and the idea of using some very different ingredients became less of a problem. I have viewed my new ideas about baking as a challenge and an adventure, and when I put a coconut cake in front of my family that they devour, nearly licking crumbs off of the platter, and I know that it won’t hurt anyone’s health, it’s pretty exciting.
I also had to come to terms with the idea of using sweeteners other than sugar or honey. I’ve always lumped any other sweetener into the “artificial, chemically based, worse than sugar” category, and I needed to re-evaluate some of that. What I realized is that alternative sweeteners are not all artificial, and do not all have the same nasty side effects. I read what Serene and Pearl had to say in their book, did a little more research with a more open mind, and realized that I am okay with Stevia, Xylitol, and Erythritol. I don’t really love the flavor of most of these, so I have allowed experimentation to be part of my adventure, finding a balance between them to make the best-tasting foods that I can. It’s wonderfully possible, and so much fun to taste-test as we go!
Of course, the book itself is the first and best resource, along with a good highlighter. There is so much great information, that it just really isn’t possible to run with this with success without having the book. I am a part of the bajillion-person Facebook page for Trim Healthy Mama, and over and over again I see women posting about confused they are, how this system doesn’t work for them…and then later in their comments they admit that they don’t have the book. My advice has always been to just get the dang book. I know that, for a paperback volume, $35 can seem like a chunk of change, but it is so worth it. Just get the book.
Then, these are the printouts that I have on the insides of my cupboards that helped me navigate and clarify my “big picture” concepts:
For my adventures in learning how to do really good low-carb baking, I am relying more and more on this woman’s blog. Her recipes haven’t let me down yet:
I also love the Trim Healthy Mama Sweet Blend. It’s one of the best tasting sweeteners that I’ve tried.
Five Stars. Two Thumbs Up. Full Endorsement. One-Hundred-Percent. I NEVER thought I would consider a “diet” book to be among my list of life-changers, but this one is really just that. It has given me the tools to keep myself healthy, with hope for life-long sustainability, and I am beyond grateful to those dear friends who gave me the birthday gifts that allowed me to order it.
Oh, and because I think it needs to be said: Yes. Some of those are affiliate links. I would really appreciate it if you would use them while purchasing your own copy of this wonderful book!
And also: I’m happy to answer questions. If I can help you get started on your own THM journey, I would be honored to do so. Ask away.