“What have I gotten myself into?” was a thought that has crossed my mind more than once since I announced my series on belly fat. My foremost concern has been not wanting to add to the hysteria about weight so prevalent in our culture. I was recently reading a very personal story that a dear woman wrote about being shapely, yes, but by no means slender. Despite the fact that she was given plenty of (often undesired) attention by males, she was convinced she was ugly and unattractive since her body was so unlike the “perfect” Hollywood models thrown at her by society. Her story struck a chord with many – those shapely and plus sized, those skinny and flat chested, and those in between. All could relate because they all struggled to accept their bodies as they were, and had a difficult time finding themselves attractive.
This is so sad, because there is such beauty in diversity. Yet most women in America (and elsewhere) feel the pressure to conform to a very specific look that is entirely culture driven.
So let me say once again, this series is not at all about appearances, conforming to unrealistic American ideals, or about shaming anyone about weight (on their stomach or elsewhere).
So why am I talking about it? I gave five reasons here for the series, the first; Belly fat can be a sign of disrupted health. What do I mean by that? Visceral adiposity (or fat inside the abdominal cavity, packed between the organs) is linked to a higher risk of a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including heart disease and cancer, diabetes, dementia, chronic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. If we notice our weight piling up in the middle, it’s something to pay attention to simply as a clue to what is going on inside our body.
In other words, sometimes when we have excess belly fat, it is a physical signal of something else going on in our body. Plus, it’s possible that once we have excess belly fat, it creates its own problems.
I found this quote so interesting from an article on a study exploring the link between belly fat and dementia. “’The more we understand about adipose tissue, the clearer it becomes that belly fat is its own disease-generating organism,’ says Dr. Launer. ‘Your fat is a very active endocrine organ that has a life of its own,’Dr. Petanceska explains. As part of that life, it interacts with many other systems in the body. ‘How it interacts with the brain may profoundly inform us about brain aging and Alzheimer’s,’ she adds.”
It turns out that belly fat interacts with other systems of our body in harmful ways. The article goes on to say, “Belly fat churns out a host of hormones, including cortisol and glucocorticoids known as stress hormones, which normally increase with age as well as during stress and are believed to affect cognition. Many of the substances produced by adipose tissue, known as adipokines, serve as mediators of inflammation (i.e., cytokines). The white adipose tissue that makes belly fat secretes cytokines that fuel and maintain a state of chronic inflammation, which is harmful to the body and may be one of the ways by which belly fat can accelerate brain aging and cause brain dysfunction. “
Whether you want to protect your brain, or your body in general from stress hormones, examining why your body is placing weight around your middle can be a helpful consideration.
One very interesting link for me is the fact that those who end up gaining weight around their belly have a higher risk of diabetes, begging the question, was it the “belly fat” that helped you get diabetes, or was it the body dysfunction (or dietary or lifestyle choices) that gave you the belly fat, that eventually gave you the diabetes? It’s an interesting question to explore.
I think it’s important to acknowledge now that our bodies, complex and wonderfully made, don’t fit into neat little boxes. The reason one has blood sugar issues may or may not be related to lifestyle choices. While a large percentage of us will be powerfully affected by making better lifestyle choices, not all of us will see the results we expected from those choices.
There is a lot more to cover in regard to the “why we get belly fat”, but today I wanted to address the tie in with food. If you want to lose the pounds around the middle, what are effective ways to do that?
Diet may be only one part of the equation for many people, but for some it is the only needed puzzle piece to good health and a healthy weight (or a healthy waist circumference).
While fully acknowledging that there are other factors in weight issues, I do think that eating a diet that helps nourish you and stabilize your blood sugar is vital. While remembering that we are all unique and have unique needs, here are a few things to consider.
(Teriyaki Chicken– a protein-rich dish)
Protein and fat help keep blood sugar even
Apparently the accumulation of belly fat, which may be a consequence of too much sugar in the blood, also contributes to elevated blood sugar and several other problems, including depression. (Source)
One reason we can get big bellies (and many health issues) is high blood sugar. Eating a higher protein diet can be very helpful in keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range, even for diabetics. And so does a high fat diet. High quality protein and fats in your diet are important for a wide variety of health reasons, here is yet another one!
Recently we found that my blood sugar was a bit higher than it normal is. While my diet shouldn’t have caused any type of spike, my doctor felt it would help it normalize to go on a lower carb, higher protein, higher fat diet until we figured out what was going on. The reason for this? Fat and protein both help keep blood sugar even. Another study found that a lower carb, higher protein diet specifically helped people lose visceral weight, that specific type of belly fat linked to so many health issues.
In other words, getting adequate protein and healthy fats in your diet and not overdoing carbohydrates can help you even your blood sugar, which in turn, can help you lose the bad type of belly fat.
(While not all of us who write for The Nourishing Gourmet are paleo, many recipes are paleo-friendly here. including this raspberry soda!)
This, I think, is one reason why a “paleo-ish” diet helps many not only lose weight, but also thin out in the middle. A paleo diet tends to be lower carb, and higher protein and fat. While you don’t have to go on a paleo diet to eat this way (I’m not), it is a reason some thrive on the “paleo” or grain-free diets.
My doctor’s recommendation
For those curious, my doctor recommends for his version of a lower-carb diet that you eat protein and fat at each meal, plenty of low-carb vegetables, and allows stevia, quinoa, amaranth, in season berries, and legumes (for those who tolerate them well), in limited amounts.
Another important consideration is not skipping meals. Research relates stress responses in our body (something we will talk more about in a future post) to belly fat specifically. Skipping meals, extreme diets, and other stressing eating habits cause stress on the body as well. Keeping your body well nourished is important for reducing stress (and belly fat).
Trim Healthy Mama diet – a popular diet book
Since (Amazon affiliate link) this book, which is becoming quite popular, came out, I have gotten so many comments about it (both in real life and online), and so many requests for me to review it! In short, this book is about the authors’ version of a healthy diet that helps you get lean, or stay that way. The authors, Serene and Pearl, pulled on their personal experience trying a lot of different dieting fads, and their years of research, and put together a method of eating that helps revive metabolism, and keep your body “trim”.
While a lot of the “health” information is nothing new to those who are familiar with Nourishing Traditions, or the Real Food movement, what the authors bring to the table that is unique, is separating food in a way that forces your body to use either glucose or fat for fuel, allowing the body to efficiently burn through food, and keep it “guessing”, in a sense.
One of the common problems with “dieting” is that in the end, to maintain weight loss, one must subsist on low-calorie intake, which could be nutritionally disastrous. For some, a low-carb diet long term can lead to thyroid dysfunction, begging the question what to do for long-term health.
Proponents of separating “fuels” in your food claim that by not eliminating any food group, but simply eating them at different time frames, you avoid the above pitfalls to dieting.
And, let me tell you, while it might not work for everyone, many people I know, or people who have commented to me on this book say this method really works – even for those who have health issues, such as thyroid issues, that normally make losing weight very difficult. Many have described this way of eating as “life changing” – often after years of trying every other method to lose needed weight. Results from real people are entirely encouraging.
I also really liked the author focus on getting healthy and trim, but not trying to meet some unrealistic weight loss goal. I think that is so important.
(This Asian “rice” is both paleo-friendly and appropriate for Trim Healthy Mama Satisfying meals).
Basically in the eating plan, you are switching from “satisfying” meals to “energizing” meals, keeping them at least three hours apart (though some do better doing whole days of one or the other). The satisfying meals look like a lot of paleo meals. The energizing meals, look like a low-fat, higher protein, moderate carbohydrate meal. The positives to this way of eating are that you don’t have to completely take away carbohydrates. The negatives to the eating plan are having to do things that are generally considered a no-no in nourishing food groups, like separating egg yolks from the whites for “energizing” meals (you can save the yolks to eat with a satisfying meal though).
I think nutritionally you should be able to eat plenty of nutrient dense food on the diet, as long as you didn’t eat too many energizing meals. While the high protein in both meal types will keep many people’s blood sugar in the healthy range, some may find that the energizing meals, with such a small amount of fat, inadequate to keep blood sugar even. This is a personal factor as many who check their blood sugar find that they do fine on this plan – even on the energizing meals. If you have blood sugar issues, talk to your health care provider.
Because this meal plan concentrates on keeping blood sugar levels even, and on losing weight it’s quite possible that this method of eating may be the ticket for many in getting a healthy body and losing belly fat. I feel that the authors also help make this diet plan pretty adaptable, which I think is important. The recipes are fairly dairy- and egg-centered, so that may be a problem for some, but you can easily use the concepts and use your own recipes to avoid any allergen foods.
The diet does use a few specialty foods which there will be some disagreement about in the real food groups, but I don’t feel especially strongly opinionated one way or another about it.
This is a HUGE book, and I truthfully skipped some chapters in the middle, so I can’t speak for the whole book, but I feel that I have the responsibility to say a few important things I disagree with the authors on.
Points of disagreement:
This book was written by Christians for Christians. While the eating plan can be used by anyone, some of the viewpoints in the book I don’t agree with as a Christian and could be offensive to those not. While I really love the heart of the ladies who wrote this book, and mean no personal offense to them, I do disagree with many of their opinions on how food and the Bible relate to each other. I do agree, for example that since Jesus called himself the “bread of life” and the Old Testament talks of a land flowing with “milk and honey” a good thing, that we shouldn’t demonize those food items. I don’t agree that those who think that dairy or grain is bad for health believe God to be a liar (page 48). I think that is a very limited view of what God was expressing in the Bible when talking about food items, or rather misses the point of it. I guess you could say that I halfway agree with some of their opinions. I agree we shouldn’t demonize certain food groups that the Bible extolls, but I also don’t think that you should demonize people who view certain foods as unhealthy. I think that there is plenty of room for theological differences of opinions on this type of topic (this could be a whole post, so I won’t go more into it, I just wanted to share that I didn’t agree with this).
Similarly, while I appreciate the authors devotion and reverence for the Bible, and also agree with them about the whole “let’s not demonize foods that the Bible holds up as good”, I was slightly amused by the fact that their eating plan looks very little like a traditional, Jewish or “Biblical” diet. There is only so far that we can use the Bible to support our method of eating, and I don’t really think that we need too. The Bible isn’t our diet book.
Some rather insignificant mentions of Esther also showed some theological differences in how we should view her story.
More importantly, at the very back of the book, there are a couple chapters on intimate relations between spouses. While the author’s advice and words may be helpful to certain couples and while I affirm the importance of having a vibrant relationship with a spouse, I would have gone about that topic in a very different way. In fact, I believe that the author inadvertently used words and phrases that could be damaging to those who have ever been sexually abused or had certain sexual difficulties. As a Christian, I can’t support many of the points in these chapters. While there may be some points of agreement and there are some good things I took away from those chapters, I cannot, with good conscience, recommend these chapters.
Any other disagreements with the book would be more in the insignificant range.
In conclusion, eating a dietary plan that helps your blood sugar stay even will help your body stay nourished and un-stressed and also can help you lose weight, including weight around your belly. Using a grain-free diet, a low or lower-carb diet, or following the Trim Healthy Mama diet are a few methods that could be helpful.
Anyone try any of the above dietary plans? What was your experience?
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Another great post. Thank you for reviewing Trim Healthy Mama. I have several friends who are following the THM diet plan and have raved about how good it has been for them. While I have not read the book, I just have a gut feeling about it that doesn’t feel right. I will be interested to see how this diet works for people on a long term basis. The book has not even been out for a year yet. The question I have for you is regarding your comment about low carb diets affecting thyroid function. Can you discuss this more please? I have read (specifically in The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure) about certain grains being very bad for thyroid. I am currently on GAPS, which is of course very low carb (only been on it about 2 months). So I would like to reconcile this issue in my mind. Thanks so much. I do appreciate your blog.
You are so welcome! The concept of changing the bodies “fuel” isn’t limited to THM, by the way. Their version of doing that is probably a lot more doable than some other author’s version however. So I really appreciate their doable approach. They also have crossover meals that we would consider a “normal meal” that you use once you are at the weight you want. This meal has both carbohydrates and fat. However, I haven’t tried the diet, so I can’t speak from any personal experience on it.
As far as thyroid goes, some people with thyroid issues have found healing doing a variety of diets, including GAPS, so I certainly don’t discount that that can be true for many. Others (including myself) find not only metabolism rates dropping, but apparent thyroid function slowing when eating a low-carb diet such as GAPS. So I think it’s a personal thing. The reason many mention that is because Atkins actually talked about long term low carbing and it slowing the thyroid. There is plenty of debate about this issue, but it does seem true for some.
I have been so blessed and refreshed spiritually and physically by this book.I loved every bit of it and would just like to encourage you ladies that this is one must-have!
Yay! I’m so glad to see the Trim Healthy Mama review, I personally have been applying the THM principles since February and it’s been very freeing. I feel THM built on the Nourishing Traditions foundational knowledge that has been so wonderful and basic in understanding what truly nourishes a body. So far, I have felt great on THM and while I haven’t lost weight (I am pregnant now so that’s kinda off-burner now anyway) I have easily maintained while eating more and have gained a better digestion in the process.
I felt the Biblical connection was a little over-reaching and frankly, was rather exclusive, as if only those that are in the evangelical genre receive “revelation:. 😉 But, overall, I heartily recommend this book as a means to put the tools necessary to healthy weight loss in our beleaguered first world hands!
Thanks for sharing, Anna! I remember that from your blog. It is so interesting that it has helped your digestion! I wonder why specifically? So glad it was helpful and freeing to you. 🙂
I must say, while I appreciate the authors of THM and their heart to help those with weight loss issues, I found this eating plan put me in so much bondage, and honestly, I wish I had never read it. Maybe it is partly because I recently came out of an eating disorder, but it put me in the whole “bad food, good food” mindset again. I also don’t like how strong they are about certain foods, and how they make blanket statements about things like, “raw whole milk is a nutritious food…but should only be used by growing children and those needing to gain weight…for the rest of us, it only fattens us up”. While not everyone can tolerate even 100% grassfed raw milk, it’s not fair to make a general statement like that when so many thrive on it.
I’m not overweight, but I tried the plan for a few weeks, and found it so stressful that I had to quit. I felt like much of the food (I guess mostly Energizing) tasted “fake” and like “diet” food. Many times since reading the book I have felt guilty for drinking milk, or eating butter in my rice or on toast or eating the occasional treat. I am very careful with my diet, and try to stay pretty low-carbish, but I like to be able to have the freedom to eat traditionally, like Weston Price recommends, without getting caught up in food combining, and low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese and egg whites. I also am very careful about not eating much honey or natural sweeteners, but I don’t agree that it has to be stevia 100% of the time.
I’m not judging those who are finding success with this, but so much seems to go against nourishing, tradition-style meals that it has really bothered me. I’ve been waiting for someone to do a review and point out the other side…
Thanks so much for sharing you valuable experience with us! I really appreciate it. I think that you bring up really valid concerns – those who have dealt with any type of bondage in the food area may find that this plan just makes things worse.
I entirely agree too, that they are probably over the top in putting certain foods in the “bad” category. I certainly know plenty of people who thrive on raw milk, and certainly are not overweight, but thin. I met one man who runs a weight loss clinic that specifically uses raw milk even. And don’t feel bad about eating butter with your bread. Keep enjoying your food!
I can also see why the energizing foods seem like diet meals -because they kind of are! Right? They are very low in fat (they allow one, or at the most two teaspoons of fat per meal). I definitely think eating too many of those meals would be a problem health-wise and definitely not nutrient dense friendly. I noticed that the author’s current meal plans have plenty of “crossover” meals – which would be a more “Weston A Price” approved type meal, and pretty limited “energizing” meals.
Many people find (I have one friend who found this true) that switching to a whole food, nutrient-dense diet naturally helped them get to a healthy weight – without doing anything else. But I have also had SO many people write me asking for help in losing weight (and I am no expert in that area so had little help to give). It seems that for many eating a “traditional” diet helps their weight stabilize, but some are never able to lose weight just eating a traditional diet. They have to do something more specific. Whether THM is the right answer for everyone is a big question mark, but I think that you can easily do a very nourishing version of it too.
I admit that I was also amused by the subtitle of “No more fads!” because EVERY diet says that – seriously! But for those who have real weight to lose, but don’t want to go on the low-fat, low-nutrient diets out there, this may be a good compromise. 🙂 Others may find that going on a higher protein and fat eating plan with moderate to low carbs a better and easier eating plan. (And many traditional people groups ate far fewer carbohydrates than we do as a society, so it follows a nutrient dense diet well).
Thanks again for sharing!
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship
I just had to jump in, because although I haven’t tried the THM plan myself (and probably have no need to at this point) I anticipate that I’d feel a bit how you describe. I wrote many thoughts on it here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2013/06/27/how-to-evaluate-new-nutritional-philosophies-through-a-critical-thinking-traditional-foods-lens/ including the “fad” comment Kimi shared. Thank you for this in-depth review of some of the parts I haven’t explored in the copy I now have, Kimi. 🙂 Katie
Your posts always make me feel better about my longish posts at times. 🙂 I think that if I had written a post about THM before reading the book, I would have been in the same boat as you. It just rubbed me wrong hearing about people separating eggs, and eating low-fat dairy, etc. However, once I read the book, I realized how easy it is to do their plan eating a nutrient-dense diet. So I softened my opinion. Near the end of the book, you can read the authors current meal plans, and I feel that what they eat is reasonable and nutritious.
Anon, I know your post is from over a year ago, but wonder if you would enjoy the book “It Starts with Food” in regard to breaking negative emotions/relationships/mindsets with food. The authors are Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Kudos and hugs for your victory over the eating disorder! There might always be days where you struggle, but please don’t forget that you’re always going to be strong enough to beat the beast.
Hi Anon, I agree 100% with you, I have the same concerns about THM.
I am in the process of finding a balanced eating plan to lower sugar (not diabetic but dr recommends) and also trim belly fat. But I am also gluten free, no eggs except within a cake or muffin, and careful about irritating diverticulosis. My most difficult meal is breakfast. No omelets, no fried pancakes in oil – doesn’t sit well with me. I am hoping to buy a waffle iron and maybe this would help. But what for the protein? I have taken to salad and tuna fish on occasion and found that gives me energy but only two hours after rising, and after coffee with almond milk and a muffin. Sort of a long breakfast-brunch.
Lunch and dinner are easier. Dinner the best meal of the day. I found take nutrients helps, B-12 and D3 sublinguals, Mega-Mag magnesium (for sugar regulator, heart and whole body). It seems many who are Pre pre-diabetic are helped greatly by the magnesium. I try to only eat, almond, coconut, nut and small amount of brown rice flours. Reducing the grains has helped to feel better and i have more energy as a result. For the fats mainly xv-olive oil and avocados. But could use some suggestions for my breakfast conundrum.
I eat salads for breakfast all the time. It’s kind of strange at first, but I have come to really enjoy it. I usually top mine with eggs and avocado, but you could add meat and/or dairy, if you like (uncured bacon is tasty and breakfast-y.) I make mine big, and add a high fat dressing. I’m usually not hungry until 2-3 pm after that!
I am gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free and my go-to breakfast is a small breakfast sausage patty with roasted sweet potatoes. I cook a batch of sausages and potatoes every few days so I’m not having to cook every morning. When I want something lighter I make a green smoothie. Hope that is helpful!
I feel like, as a busy mother that works full-time outside the home, lives a real food lifestyle, ferments beverages for the health of my family (among many other things), this (THM) is that “one more thing” that I don’t have the energy or the desire to get into. I cannot hardly read one book in the span of a month because I am so busy. Why do I even resent references to THM? I don’t know.
I am grateful, however, for your review and discussion regarding this matter and look forward to reading this series. 🙂
I would be happy if there was a focus on ‘belly fat’ rather than on ‘fat’, or being ‘overweight’, simply because it’s not just identifiable, but that it’s not healthy and that there are solutions are indisputable and deserving a paucity of rationalizations.
My 82 year old father has belly fat. It’s clear as day; but for this ‘faux-pregnancy’ visual, he would be a trim man. I watched a gentleman pass by on the sidewalk the other day; he was not ‘naturally’ fat, this was clear to any unbiased observer. But his ‘belly fat’ was astounding. I was heartbroken as I watched him. I wasn’t feeling disdain for the ‘fat’, I was was feeling compassion for someone who was at risk. Period. (And as someone who has been 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight, I know from experience how liberating, how Life-changing removing this excess baggage can be.)
I would wish that in the general discussion about avoirdupois, we would put aside the defensiveness and accept that some situations are not about ‘self-image’, or ‘the right to be whatever shape we desire’, that they’re about a person’s risk to their health. Surely as a society we can cease with the endless rationalizations in this regard.
Thanks so much for this series as well as the review on Trim Healthy Mama. I personally have read the book and learned a lot from it. Some things that I have tried to understand for years (blood glucose and insulin) were put in a way that I finally understood it. Although I don’t agree with everything in the book (i.e. large amounts of stevia, no honey, low fat dairy, not drinking milk) I have to wonder if for some people it is better to eat this way for a time in order to lose weight than to remain over weight. Losing weight should be temporary and what should be permanent is finding a way of eating that will help you maintain the weight loss. There are people in my life who are very overweight and not eating anything close to a real food diet. This book has not only helped them to lose weight but they are eating FAR better than they once were. So for that I am very thankful for the book. For me personally it has been the missing piece to my puzzle. For years I have been on a journey of figuring out what way of eating is best for my family and have struggled to find balance between all that I know and what lines up with our personal convictions. After reading THM I finally felt empowered and that I had all the info I needed to figure out what was best for us. My husband and I are both losing weight on THM while still drinking milk and eating honey. We try to have freedom with our food while making smart decisions. I think every food philosophy needs to be centered around the freedom that God gives us to eat all foods. And to take into account that everyones body is different and has different needs. I am very thankful to christian bloggers, authors, etc. that have shared their knowledge and experience. I have learned so much and without all the different views and ideas I never would have found what works for us! Thanks Kimi.
I tried posting this once and my computer froze, please forgive me if you get the same thing twice.
Thanks so much for sharing with us! I am so glad that THM was so helpful to you. I think it also really interesting that you are losing weight while drinking milk and having honey, despite that being a rather big no-no according to the authors. Just curious, how much are you having of those two things?
I loved what you said here, “I think every food philosophy needs to be centered around the freedom that God gives us to eat all foods. And to take into account that everyones body is different and has different needs.”
My husband has lost almost 10lbs and drinks at least 1 glass of milk a day if not 2-3 glasses. I don’t drink much milk myself however I have probably had 1-2 glasses a week. I have lost almost 20lbs and the first 10 came off while having about 1TBS of honey or maple syrup every day. I have since limited it to every other day however it hasn’t made a noticeable difference either way. I am however nursing a 9 month old so it’s possible I use the glucose up faster. Either way, I have definitely lost weight while using the THM framework and making it my own. 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment. It was the perfect blend that I needed to hear. I suffer with thyroid issues and am 50. My 16 year old daughter suffers from PCOS. Neither of us can lose weight very easily. Low calorie just doesn’t work for me and extreme low carb like South Beach make my brain foggy and zap my energy. I’ve tried all organic whole foods…didn’t lose a pound. Granted I probably wasn’t watching portion size. I bought THM hoping for balance. I’m not going to obsess over it. I will have some milk and honey occasionally, but it has to be better than how things are going now.
thank you for this review kimi. so well timed!
what’s interesting for me is that on my journey to regain my health, my body has gained weight. i think about the way i eat (Weston A. Price/low-carb/paleo) and wonder if its the “nutrient density” that has caught up to me (yet i also have thyroid issues) because with my condition, exercise can be tricky due to Post Exertional Malaise (which can take me out for days). in times of anxiety about my weight, it helps to remember how i *feel*, rather than how i *look.* i’m still very much in healing stages but when i look back on my life before, i’d never trade it back. i like to say, i’m the healthiest person i know who lives with an illness. PS. today’s video recipe was inspired by you. check it out when you can 🙂
First, thanks so much for the mention on your blog. 🙂 And thank you for sharing more of your story! Thyroid issues definitely can cause weight gain. I think also that sometimes our bodies gain a little weight in the healing process, I am not sure why that is, but I know that has happened to many. That is one of the reasons I like to focus on being healthy, rather than “being as skinny as possible”. 🙂
You said you had trouble making an egg-free breakfast. I have really been enjoying a mashed, baked sweet potato with half a mashed banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a spot of vanilla. Butter is great too, if you’re not watching fat. It reminds me of oatmeal without the grains. I’ve also stir fried some veggies and added a little meat for the days that I need an extra boost. If you chop a plantain and pan-fry it with the veggies, that’s also a nice carb-y addition.
Hope this helps!
I had my thyroid removed (thyroid cancer) and in the process, my parathyroid stopped working. This was nearly 20 years ago, and shortly after that surgery, I started packing on the belly fat. I have lost 10-20 pounds several times since then (always regaining within a few months) and the belly fat doesn’t budge. About 5 months ago, I did the Whole 30 and lost 6 pounds and it noticeably decreased my belly fat. About a month after completing the Whole 30, I discovered THM and have been following it (loosely). I am now down 13 pounds, my belly fat is continuing to decrease and I feel fantastic.
That’s great, Mary! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
This is a really informative post. Thanks!
I always had the idea in my brain (not from the media) that inflammation was the root of mental health issues AND belly/body fat. I didn’t realize that the fat was producing inflammatory chemicals as well. (I also think most inflammation comes from the gut and poor digestion.)
I definitely think that insulin resistance is a really scary thing, and it causes bodies to be fat and starved at the same time. Since the brain becomes insulin resistant before fat does some scientists are calling Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes”. Which would be why coconut oil would be so good for providing energy to an Alzheimer’s person’s brain.
Interesting point about the “type 3 diabetes”! Thanks for sharing that.
This is a great post Kimi! I will look at THM. You may like Dr. Josh Axe as well. He is a Christian, Chiropractor and Certified Nutritionist. It sounds like it is very similar to THM. http://www.draxe.com
It actually sounds like Dr. Axe recommends a diet plan very close to what your doctor recommends. Yay for Real Food! 🙂
I’ve been eating a WAP diet for over 10 years, have done GAPS, etc., but still have a few pounds to lose after having kids… I tried THM too even though I cringed for the same reasons as most other purists, not to mention so many of the recipes don’t taste good to me (I can taste the bitterness of stevia in anything!).
But what I really can’t figure out is why whole days of either S or E meals makes my blood sugar swing wildly and give me an adrenal crash. I only feel good physically when I eat “crossovers”. WHY it makes me feel ill to leave out fats or carbs, I cannot figure out. Does anyone else have any ideas why that would happen?
I started THM when my 8th baby was 7 weeks old and my milk suppliy took a HUDGE dip!!! I joined the THM pregnant and nursing suport group for advise and soon found that A LOT of woman were having the same problem and we were told to eat a LOT of crossover meals and S healper meals witch is just like eating PRIMAL. Then I talked to my midwife and she said that if your body cannot make enough milk for a 7 week old baby on a diet then it is not healthy… I am now eating PRIMAl but still making soaked sprouted Sour dough every few days. I am now building up my milk suppliy and still losing weight. THM does NOT work for everyone although I have seen many woman have great sucess on it.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! It’s so important to put your baby’s health first. I am curious. What is the biggest difference between how you eat now (primal most of the time), and THM? I know that some people do THM mostly grain-free, high protein meals and just some grains, here and there. It kind of sounds like how you eat! But maybe I am missing something?
THM has been such a blessing to our family as it has helped my husband lose 35 pounds just by eating the THM foods that I fix him. I was at goal weight and then got pregnant shortly after we started, so I have not been as strict at adhering to the plan myself. I do feel really good eating this way, though. I have so many close friends who have lost over 30 pounds and are feeling great and loving it!
Why do so many people have such a problem with being told whole milk, honey, or combining carbs and fats will cause you to gain weight? I took the book to mean if you want to lose weight stay away from them, but not to say they are BAD for you. When at goal weight you should be able to indulge. In the meantime so many of us are WAY healthier than we were before. The few ingredients that might be controversial to food purists are still leaving many women healthier than they’ve ever been.
Because whole raw milk is much better for you than the pasteurized skim stuff, real raw honey is better than white sugar any day, and the combining thing has been done before – check out Somersizing
nobodies promoting skim milk in THM but if you want to LOOSE WEIGHT, drinking whole milk (raw or not) will not help your cause! I proved that well with our own Jerseys
I also proved The differences between Somersizing and THM… the first worked after 2 pregnancies (les effective on the second) but then stopped completely after the next! when I learned that I needed PROTIEN with carb meals (the thm difference), I lost 80 lbs that hadn’t budged in 5 years
So glad to hear of your success. Stating it as soon as I finish the book.
Interesting. It seems the opposite of livingthenourishedlife and weedemandreap’s weight loss stories.
I don’t think the THM weight loss success stories will be permanent, because it is a fad (food combining, low-carb is a fad) and your adrenals will be stressed when you go too low carb.
For me, I have to do moderate protein, low sulfites and low oxalates, so I don’t think THM would work for me anyway.
You haven’t read the book, obviously. THM is not low carb…it’s quite balanced actually. And when you reach your goal weight you aren’t left hanging…You discover your sweet spot for number of ‘normal meal’ in a week… It’s really easy to maintain believe it or not.
I have done Somersizing (Suzanne Sommers) , which is a food combining plan. It worked great! I lost 17 pounds in 15 days. I felt good. Felt satisfied with smaller portions by the beginning of the second week.
food combining is NOT new. GF is not new. just combining the two has not been done in a book. i am looking forward to checking out trim healthy momma, but find suzanne sommers’ books very beneficial.
I agree! She was on the right track. THM just takes SS info to the next level…the need for PROTIEN and a bit of fat in carb meals….it made all the difference when Somersizing eventually stopped working for me.
I think I panicked and started doing the low carb side too much and I messed my thyroid and metabolism up royally. Found THM 5 years later and lost 80 lbs in 7 months. It just fell off with out even feeling like a diet! Adding in E meals made all the difference for me!
I’m wondering if there are any non-religious resources that detail a similar eating plan to THM? Their info sounds interesting but I would like to avoid having to wade through all the other topics having to pertain to their religion.
Kimi, what is your feeling about glucomannan?
I also would like a non religious book that outlines the food combining espoused in THM. Does anyone know what books they based their info off of so i can read those books instead of their religious interpretations.
Look into Somersizing if you want food combining without religion 🙂 (and it’s budget friendly)
Yes…just remember that you can and should eat PROTIEN with her carb meals…I feel that’s what she is missing.
I have eaten the THM way for one year. I lost 10 pounds & then maintained…not losing any more weight. (I want to lose 20 pounds more.) Frustrated by having eaten this way for an entire year & not losing what I wanted, I’ve gone back to calorie counting & guess what I’m losing again.
Thanks for this honest review! I’ve been doing this THM thing to lose 10 pounds. My friends are all dropping weight like crazy. I’m not alot overweight, but I’m a dancer, so I like to be on the thinner side. I’m also 58 and post menopausal. My weight comes off VERY slowly, sadly. I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks with no changes. I’m already burned out on the egg based “crusts”, and the sponge like ick they call “bread”. I’ve always watched my calories, and I eat healthy… salad with chicken breast, cottage cheese with tomatoes & veges, appropriate portion sizes etc. That’s what has helped me in the past. I am starving on this “non-diet” and switching over from calorie watching, to this has been super hard for me! I KNOW what caloric content food has, I have no idea about carbs, so it’s a whole new thing to me. I feel strongly that it’s restrictive, and good food bad food mind set. I don’t know if I can live a life without a piece of bread! The recipes are gross, I’ve tried alot of them and I gag most of the time with the way you put things together. I want to lose this weight, but I’m ready to give up and go back to calorie counting, so I can eat some real food! I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only person on earth that struggles with this! Thanks again!!!
Thanks for the review! 1) I had heard about THM and looked into it but I have issues with the fake foods they encourage for the diet. – I wonder about some of them. 2) Food combining has been around for a long time and it can work, but I would much prefer Somersizing if I were to follow it as she advocates REAL food, no calorie counting, doesn’t require a ton of supplements and is budget friendly. 3) THM has lots of supplements that are quite pricey! 4) If we are eating Biblically then that is much more Paleo then this book seems to be – the grains in the Bible were much different than today due to hybridization and genetic modification. Why wouldn’t they recommend Einkorn or other ancient grains? Honey is not as bad for you as other sugars, no matter what anyone says.
Thank you again.
I think it’s more like this… They allow people to come in where they are at. You can make the frame work as PURE as you want it to be!
As for honey…they aren’t against honey at all…they just know it may not help your cause WHILE TRYING TO LOOSE WEIGHT.
I started THM in June of 13. Sadly, it was one of my biggest mistakes. Yes, I lost weight. Having come out of an eating disorder in the past, I had no idea the trap I was sitting myself up for. I have found myself back in the bondage of an eating disorder. Once you read and study this method, it is very hard to get the good food, bad food mentality out of your thinking. I have sought help from a dietician and although I tell myself, everyfood is good and fits, I find I cannot eat anything without thinking S, E, fuel pull or crossover. I am 5.5 and barely over 100 lbs.
If you have any tendancy toward eating disorder, please do not begin this plan.
Also, to follow the plan is very expensive and for large families that can be a challenge. In the book they recommend Swansons Whey. Now, they no longer recommend it.
Im sorry that was your experience but I also have an eating disorder and after being on THM I have never felt healthier or more in control of my eating. I am free from food bondage and finally getting to a healthy weight. I do tend to think of meals as FP, E and S but it just makes it easier for me that way because I know if I need to be eating food that will help me maintain, I can eat Crossovers and still be healthy. Also, if you take issue with a few of the ingredients, don’t use them. 🙂
Thanks so much for the review of “Trim, Healthy Mama”. I had been wondering about this diet after seeing all the buzz about it among my friends on Facebook. It sounded great – especially the testimonials. So I ordered the book, but when it arrived and I started reading through it, I realized it is just like the diet that Suzanne Somers promoted in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s called “Somersize” (through a series of New York Times Best Sellers). Suzanne’s first book in the series of “Somersize” best sellers was, “Eat Great, Lose Weight: Eat All the Foods You Love in “Somersize” Combinations to Reprogram Your Metabolism, Shed Pounds for Good, and Have More Energy Than Ever Before”.
The books that followed were:
– “Get Skinny on Fabulous Food”;
– “Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away”; and
– “Fast & Easy: Lose Weight the Somersize Way with Quick, Delicious Meals for the Entire Family! ”
Additional cookbooks with more Somersize recipes followed these four books.
Here is an explanation of Somersize:
Basically, it all boils down to alternating between low carb/high fat meals and high carb/low fat meals according to the rules of food combining. I wasn’t able to stick with Somersize because of the food combining. I found it awkward. And as you mentioned, I didn’t like having to separate eggs and use low-fat/no-fat products. Like you mentioned, I did worry about the insulin response of eating the high carb/low fat meals.
I believe that the “Trim, Healthy Mama” authors were influenced by Somerisze, but put their own spin on it. Even one of the authors of “Trim, Healthy Mama” – Pearl – has a video on YouTube where she is making chocolate using Suzanne Somers’ “Somersweet”, which is some sort of stevia/erithritoyl (plus a few other ingredients) mix similar to (but not identical) to what the Trim, Healthy Mamas now sell on their website.
Here is the video of Pearl making the chocolates (she has a chat with her mom in the beginning) using the “Somersweet” (Pearl starts making the chocolates at about the 5:19 mark of the video):
Here is a link to Suzanne’s “Somersweet” product:
And this is what I also had a problem with – the erithritoyl sweetener. I know everyone says it’s natural but I’m just not sure about it. I’m OK with the stevia – in it’s natural green from though, but the erithritoyl – not so much. So for that reason alone, I struggle with “Somersize” as well as “Trim, Healthy Mama”. What are your thoughts?
Also, there was one bit of information that someone on Facebook pointed me to, which I found a bit disturbing, making me want to distance myself from the Trim, Healthy Mama whirlwind:
Although unrelated to dieting, the story above made me feel a bit uncomfortable reading the Trim, Healthy Mama book especially, as you mentioned in your post, the authors do stray from dieting topics to discuss religion and lifestyle subjects.
So, in the end, “Trim, Healthy Mama” isn’t going to work for me any better than “Somersize” did. So, I will continue my quest to try and rid myself of my post menopausal belly fat! 🙂
Thanks again for all the wonderful information you shared in your post and the review of “Trim, Healthy Mama”. I think when all is said and done, Weston A Price and Sally Fallon have the right idea about how to nourish our bodies – and in doing so, keep us trim as well.
All the best,
Everything goes through a WESTON PRICE filter for me…that was the only reason I picked up this book! I finally saw a framework for staying slim on WAPF food!
Just put up with combining until you are at goal…Then you CAN start eating like a normal person! I am loving that my metabolism is reset and I can get away with eating so normal now!
I was following Eat To Live before starting THM.I really loved THM and the great foods I got to eat. However my health did not improve with this plan. My chest pains and shortness of breath came back with a vengeance and became worse. My breathing was labored and difficult. I would just cry because it was so hard to catch my breath. I reluctantly went back onto Eat to Live and my problems started to subside. I’d say I’ve had at least 85% if not more reduction in symptoms. I felt more in bondage to food during my THM time too – I thought about food a lot. Now I eat 3 times a day and thoughts are not totally consumed with food. I’m glad THM works for some people but for those of us who may have more health issues a more radical approach may be what is best.
Trim Healthy Mama is contradictory. They cite the Bible and eating the natural, healthy foods that God made for us and then go on to recommend artificial sweeteners, processed foods like de-fatted peanut flour, and bash honey. ???? Plus, the recipes and menu plans mean that you either have to put your whole family on their crazy plan or cook separate meals for yourself.
No thanks, it sounds like just another fad to me.
Eat healthy, whole foods as much as possible. Move your body. Don’t demonize any natural food. Indulge once in awhile in delicious treats. Avoid foods that make you feel bad. That is not a fad and it doesn’t require buying any books or eating awful-tasting recipes that cost a fortune.
I started THM at a time when I had just learned I had Gestational Diabetes for the second time. For me, THM was far less stressful than the diet recommendations given to me by the dietician and diabetes educator the first time I had GD. It was certainly excellent at stabilising my blood sugar. There is a section in the book that specifically deals with diabetes and the general recommendation is to pull your E meals back from 45g of carbs to 30g of carbs. It was probably less stressful because it actually worked, but also because it had clear guidelines and plenty of great meal suggestions. The addition of protein was great because the dietician’s diet was lacking in protein and was low fat, so I was constantly starving.
I’m fairly laid back and used to just letting go of stuff that doesn’t thrill me, so the use of things like defatted peanut flour and other not-quite-real-foods didn’t bother me. They said clearly that it was our choice if we used them – pearl used them whereas Evangeline who is more a purist, doesn’t.
Thank you for this excellent review of THM! I have been following this way of eating since January and I have a few thoughts.
First, I agree with you about some of the over-reaching statements regarding food in Scripture. Also, although I had not considered the problems with the chapter on sex, your critique makes sense to me now.
Second, I have allowed myself lots more freedom on this plan than maybe is “allowed”: I have lots of cheat meals where I enjoy things like pizza, an occasional sugary dessert, once in a while a coke or Dr. Pepper, and other off plan foods.
That being said, the support and encouragement I get from my THM “sisters” on the THM facebook group. along with the progress I’ve made in my health and weight, has made me a fan for life pretty much!
I started in January, weighing somewhere around 238-240. I was always tired, had swollen feet and legs all the time, and just generally felt fat and unhealthy. Today, I am about 220-225. I have a long way to go, but my feet/legs no longer swell, my thyroid is healthier, my clothes are looser, I dropped from size 18 regular jeans to size 16 skinny jeans, I have way more energy and even run sometimes! I am thankful for this way of eating. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I know God brought it into my life. It has been a good fit for me.
Also, I don’t use all the special ingredients like pressed peanut flour. I have added almond flour only in the last month! It is possible to follow this plan without those added things, especially if, like me, you don’t stress over if something is 100% on plan all the time.
Thanks again, and God bless!
That’s great, Ruth! I continue to hear good things about the diet. Keep up the good work!
I didn’t feel as well on this diet. I could tell my cortisol and blood sugar and energy level was not as stable. I need some protein , fat and carbs at each meal. I like the Adrenal Reset diet by Dr Christiansen much better. You eat only a very tiny amount of carbs at breakfast as this is when your cortisol is highest and insulin sensitivity is lowest and increase slightly at each meal with dinner being the highest when cortisol is lowest. Over all it’s a low carb diet with carbs in the 75 grams a day ballpark. I also like the potbelly syndrome book sorry can’t remember the author. It’s about the connection between low grade chronic infections like cpn and weight gain.
I’ve had testing done and found out that I had a Protozoa and h pylori and my cortisol levels were very high. This can cause weight gain. I think a lot of people have things like this going on and are trying to put a bandaid on it with diets trim healthy mama or others and it’s not going to work or not very well cause the real cause is not being addressed. I go to a holistic doc and we are using natural methods. Got rid of the Protozoa confirmed with DNA stool testing. Now working on the h pylori. Coconut oil and monolaurin kills cpn so doing a lot of that. Kills other infections too. Maybe that’s why so many people lose weight on it.
Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. I can totally relate to some of the points you raised here. Before getting pregnant, I started noticing my ‘belly fat’. It doesn’t look good for me because I’m considered underweight. It kind of makes me look malnourished. Worried about my looks, I signed up for a gym session and continue doing workouts at home. But it’s hard for me to lose those belly fats while I work out to gain weight. I didn’t follow a healthy diet at that time, probably why I’m seeing no difference in my physique at all. Now that I’m pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It makes me wonder whether those belly fats helped me get diabetes or is it the body dysfunction. After reading this, I am enlightened somehow. Thanks for sharing.