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Hopefully you are beginning to understand why I have been so attracted to his fantastic book, Trim Healthy Mama (aff link…thanks!), and why I think it is a must read.
Not only has it provided me with a simplified understanding of the complexities of our body and its functions, but I have learned some REALLY tasty recipes!
Today we’re going to dive in a little deeper to learn some more about eating the Trim Healthy Mama way.
Trim Healthy Mama Overview: Eating the THM Way
Since this post series is targeted to beginner THM-ers, I am going to try to keep this focused and comprehensive. The biggest points I want you to walk away understanding is that ANYONE can do this, you do not need a bunch of gizmos and gadgets, and it is possible to follow their rules and criteria on any budget.Have you tried Trim Healthy Mama yet?! Check out my overview that even the authors shared… Click To Tweet
I have seen families do this with very little money or plenty.
Wherever you fall, this should get you moving in the right direction!
Most CRITICAL Aspects of THM (Don’t leave home without them)
Key Point #1:
When working towards weight loss, ALWAYS separate your fats from your carbohydrates. For most of us this is a total game changer.
This one point alone ought to make you really think about and analyze the ramifications of its application.
But, as wonderfully explained in the book, the reason for this absolute “law” of THM is that when we eat these two different body fuel sources together, ultimately one will be used as a fuel while the other gets safely stored away as fat (See Chapter 1 of Trim Healthy Mama).
This is a good thing for our growing children who are still developing and literally growing in all ways, but a bad thing for the vast majority of us adults. Separation is key! (If you are at the point where you want to maintain your weight, this rule is more flexible).
Key Point #2:
Protein should be present in some form at every time of eating. Protein is the new mate of both carbs and fats.
Key Point #3:
Stay AWAY from sugar, in all forms (i.e. honey, agave, brown, white, sucanat, etc.). Sugar leads to excess insulin, which leads to weight gain (again, see Chapter 1).
But, how am I supposed to eat?
Let me introduce you to your new way of referencing food groups: S, E, and FP. Get to know them well because you will be together a long, long time.
S meals (Satisfying)
S Meals are composed mostly of protein and fats (no/VERY low carbs). Non-starchy vegetables are a welcome addition to these meals, including winter squash, cruciferous vegetables, and greens. This is the typical place where higher fat meats, like beef and pork, would be used.
Since fat does not stimulate weight gain in the same way as carbohydrates, there is no real “upper limit” on the amount of fat in a meal, but use wisdom, not gluttony, to decide appropriate levels. Too much could slow down weight loss, simply from a caloric load standpoint.
Don’t get too caught up in this though. S meals welcome back into our lives the beautiful and decadent additions of saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, and palm oil.
Yes, now you CAN have it all (sounds the Hallelujah Chorus). Regular fat dairy products (cheese, sour cream, etc.) are fine in this setting, but be cautious of whole milk, which contains a higher concentration of carbohydrates. Again, great for our growing kids, but bad for us.
***HIGHLIGHT: For S meals, you want less than 10 g carbohydrates in the entire meal to avoid moving into crossover territory.***
For more on S meals, including a comprehensive list of S approved foods, see Chapter 8 in Trim Healthy Mama.
E Meals (Energizing)
E Meals are the opposite of S meals, composed mainly of protein and carbohydrates. Unlike S meals, though, there is a limit to the carbohydrate indulgence.
Due to the effects of carbohydrates on insulin levels, you want your E meals to stay below 45 g per meal to avoid spiking insulin and therefore bringing on the weight gain. In addition, there is a bonus factor that you can have up to 2 tsp of fat with an E meal, which helps to slow digestion and aid in mineral absorption, but any more than this and you are in crossover territory.
With E meals, you can enjoy lean cuts of meat (think chicken breast, leanest ground beef with fat drained out, lean ground turkey, fish, etc), but be sure to stay away from the higher fat options.
NOTE: White potatoes and white rice are no longer an option for your new THM eating plan. They act like sugar in the body and stimulate insulin production, thereby affecting weight, so steer clear of them. Fruit can be enjoyed with E meals, but never eat them alone…always pair it with some protein. Bananas should be limited to no more than 1/2 per meal, because they are a higher sugar fruit, or you can cut them out altogether.
***HIGHLIGHT: For E meals, you want less than 5 g fats in the meal to avoid moving into crossover territory.***
For more on E meals, including a comprehensive list on E approved foods, see Chapter 9 in Trim Healthy Mama.
FP (Fuel Pull)
While S meals are low in carbs and E meals are low in fats, FPs are low in both carbs and fats. These are the meals that are almost entirely protein-focused with very little insulin spiking ingredients otherwise.
Because there is no real fuel source provided in the meal, FPs actually need the fat stores/fuel stores of the body to process and digest them.
For this reason, FPs can be a helpful addition for increased/speedier weight loss when used a few times throughout the week, but used too often and they can halt weight loss from too low of calories.
Balance is key.
***HIGHLIGHT: FP meals have less than 5 g fat and 10 g carbs. Increase one and you have changed to a fuel source.***
More information on FP is further explained in Chapter 10 of the book.
Side note Worthy: Crossovers and S-Helpers
As I have mentioned Crossovers a few times I wanted to take a moment to explain its purpose. Basically a crossover is when you eat plan approved foods that contain too high of fat or carbohydrate amount to be considered an S or E meal.
If you choose to have a side of rice with your steak and veggies, you have now transformed your S meal into a Crossover. Or if you decide to add a tbsp of butter to your lovely baked chicken breast, sweet potato, and broccoli dinner, you now have a crossover meal.
Crossovers are perfect for people looking to gain weight, or maintain a goal weight, but should be used sparingly otherwise. An S-helper has the same idea, but it specifically works with S meals to add a very small carbohydrate food in a specific proportion that does not greatly affect blood sugar levels, but will slow down the weight loss potential a bit more.
When switching fuel sources in the day (i.e. going from an E lunch to an S dinner), make sure to have at least 3 hours between fuels. Any closer and your body will likely not have finished processing the first fuel and you are creating a duel fuel situation, which is no good.***
This is where things can get tricky for some. Let’s say that you decide to make a yummy turkey sandwich on sourdough bread for lunch (an E meal) but have meatloaf and buttered broccoli planned for dinner (S meal). You eat lunch at 1 pm and have dinner planned for 5:30 pm, but find yourself famished at 3:30 p.
It is too close to lunch time to switch to S, and too close to dinner time to have another E, so what should you eat. This is a situation where those friendly FPs can really come in handy.
Throw together a quick Big Boy Smoothie (Recipe in the book) and you are in business to be held over until dinner time comes. Thank you FP!
A Few Quick and Basic Meal Ideas
So, now you’ve learned the basics, but are still a little baffled on application. Before you throw up your hands in frustration, let’s talk this out. It is much easier than you think.
***First, a MUCH more thorough explanation of all of these points can be had by reading through the book. This will greatly increase your chances of successfully implementing everything we are discussing here today. Trust me, you want to read the book…this post is no substitution for the real thing.***
Here are some basic meal ideas to help get you started (but again, there are some amazing recipes in the recipe section of the book that you will not want to miss out on!)
Breakfasts (E Style):
- Oatmeal, stevia sweetened, mixed with unsweetened almond milk and topped with a few blueberries and cut up strawberries
- Egg whites with two pieces of sourdough bread, buttered with 1 tsp butter, and a side of pan roasted diced tomatoes and onions seasoned with salt and pepper
- Egg white breakfast burrito, made with low fat tortilla, salsa, a little black beans, and low fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup 1% Cottage cheese, stevia sweetened, and topped with a handful of blueberries and diced strawberries
Breakfasts (S Style):
- 3 whole eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper, mixed with onions and diced red peppers, topped with mozzarella cheese, salsa, and full fat sour cream
- 2 eggs seasoned with salt and pepper served with a side of regular cottage cheese and sliced strawberries
- Almond Flour pancakes topped with xylitol sweetened maple flavored syrup and 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- Breakfast Burrito made with whole eggs, salsa, cheese, and full fat sour cream on top of a low carb tortilla
Lunches (E Style):
- Two pieces plan approved E bread (or homemade Sourdough) shmeared with dijon mustard and 1 serving of low fat mayo, topped with lettuce, sliced tomato, and a side of pickle
HUGE green salad loaded with 1 cup cooked quinoa, grilled chicken breast, serving of low fat shredded cheese, salsa, and serving of low fat sour cream
- Black Bean salsa over grilled chicken breast with side of green salad topped with light salad dressing
- Baked sweet potato topped with 1 tsp coconut oil with side of baked salmon patty and sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper
Lunches (S Style):
- Sauteed Salmon Patty over large bowl of salad greens, topped with mozzarella cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasoned with salt and pepper
- Tuna mixed with full fat mayo over big bowl of salad greens, topped with cheese, salsa, and diced pickle
- Cottage Berry Whip made S style with full fat cottage cheese, frozen berries, and stevia blended well (recipe from the book)
- Leftovers from last night’s delicious S Spaghetti night (beef sauce over Dreamfield’s pasta) topped with sour cream and sprinkle of cheese, and side of green salad topped with drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Snacks (E Style):
- Apple with 5-7 almonds
- Slice of sourdough bread topped with slice of turkey breast and bit of light mayo
- Small bowl air popped popcorn topped with nutritional yeast and side of string cheese
Snacks (S Style):
- 3-4 pieces skinny chocolate (recipe in book)
- Handful of salted nuts of choice
- Celery topped with peanut butter
Dinners (E Style):
- Baked Chicken Breast seasoned with salt and pepper served with sweet potato (topped with 1 tsp butter) and green beans
- Whole grain Pasta (1 serving) topped with ground turkey meat sauce and side of steamed broccoli
- 1 cup chili made with beans and ground turkey, topped with light sour cream and low fat shredded cheese
- Dijon Salmon served with side of 3/4 cup brown rice and steamed broccoli, topped with 1 tsp butter and seasoned with salt and pepper
Dinners (S Style):
- Aforementioned Spaghetti dinner, Ground beef meat sauce served over Dreamfield’s pasta with side salad topped with homemade ranch dressing
- Meatloaf (using coconut flour in place of breadcrumbs) with large side of steamed broccoli and mashed cauliflower flavored with butter and topped with cheese
- Homemade Chicken Alfredo served over steamed broccoli and cooked spaghetti squash
- Salmon Stir-fry, fried in coconut oil, and topped with sesame seeds and cheese, served with side salad and balsamic vinaigrette
If you’re not, I am, so I am going to go make myself an afternoon snack and get back to making my E dinner (Bean stew).
Are you ready to give this Trim Healthy Mama thing a try? I’d love to hear all about so make sure to comment below.