The Trim Healthy Mama plan, also simply known as THM, is taking the diet world by storm! It was designed by 2 sisters, and it can be modified for any age or stage of life, including pregnant mamas and growing kiddos. It offers ways to lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off. It’s been a huge blessing in my life by helping me easily lose the baby weight and my husband to lose the 20 pounds that he gained when he started a desk job. I know that it can be a big help for you or your family, too. THM can seem a bit overwhelming at first (their first book was over 600 page! Whew!), but let me break it down into baby steps.
We’ll take a look at the THM principles, my THM journey, which began in 2014, and a basic building blocks guide to get you on the THM plan quickly and easily. There’s even a one week sample menu to get you up and running in no time! No worries, you don’t really have to add running unless you want to!
Overview of THM
THM is a way of eating that incorporates every food group (protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, lots of veggies) in certain combinations to help you reach and keep a healthy weight. It promotes a low-glycemic index way of eating. Overall, this means that the food you eat in their recommended combinations should encourage healthy blood sugar levels and healthy weights.
There are several ways to keep a healthy blood sugar level:
1. Make protein the focus of every meal.
Protein is digested slowly and helps to even out blood sugar levels. It also provides the nutritional building blocks to create muscles, organs, cartilage, and even forms the backbone of your immune system. You don’t have to count protein grams or anything, but you start with your protein as you create any meal or snack.
2. Eat frequently.
Eating every 3 hours gives your body and brain a nice steady supply of nutrients to keep running at their peak. As an added bonus, it also keeps your body from thinking that you’re going into starvation mode, so it can help to rev up your metabolism to lose weight!
3. Use certain sweeteners.
Certain sweeteners are more friendly to a stable blood sugar level, while things like white sugar and high fructose corn syrup can spike them sky-high. There is mounting concern in the holistic health community that sugar is a leading culprit in causing inflammation in the body. It’s also highly addictive, which makes it hard to break the cycle of eating sugar, spiking the blood sugar, crashing when your blood sugar levels come down, and reaching for more sugar to get energy again. Many people report several days to 2-3 weeks of going through “sugar detox” when they start THM, but it’s worth it since most feel much better and more energetic after that!
4. No whites.
Like white sugar, white flour and white rice can cause similar spikes in blood sugar. These are no-no’s on the THM plan, but there’s so many great recipes and food alternatives that most people don’t miss them! White potatoes also typically ignite blood sugar levels, but you can have them rarely on THM.
There are a couple of other core principles of the THM plan:
1. Lose weight by separating fuels.
This one reminds me a little of Suzanne Somers’ Eat Great to Lose Weight, which my mom and I followed for a month when I was in high school. Thankfully, this is much better and doesn’t include eating fruit all by itself 30 minutes before a meal (that always made me feel awful cuz it spiked my blood sugar levels!). The premise is that fats and carbs are processed, digested, and stored at different rates, so you give your body one fuel at a time to lose weight.
For THM, you start with your protein. Then, you either focus on fats and low carb foods or complex carbs and low fat foods. The fat-based, low-carb meals are known as “S” meals, which is short for Satisfying. The low fat, complex carbohydrate based foods are called “E” meals for Energizing. You can pair non-starchy vegetables and up to 1 cup of berries with either meal.
One of the great things about THM is the flexibility! While most diets leave pregnant and nursing mommas by the wayside, THM encourages you to combine S and E fuels to gain weight in a healthy way to support a growing baby. The same principles can be applied for growing kiddos and even skinny husbands.
2. The main low-glycemic sweeteners.
Because the THM plan is based on keeping your blood sugar stable, they recommend 3 specific sweeteners that are kind to your glucose levels and your waistline. They know that sweets and treats are a natural part of life (yay!), and these help me to stick with plan long-term.
The preferred on plan sweeteners are stevia (which comes from a plant) and the prebiotics/sugar alcohols erythritol and xylitol. While not conducive for weight loss, technically coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and honey can be used sparingly, but they will have a more significant impact on blood sugar levels, especially for diabetics. My family uses coconut sugar as our main sweetener, and I’ve found that the longer I’m on plan, the less I need to use to sweeten my treats. My husband even lost 20 pounds in 2017 when he hopped on plan with me!
3. Food freedom plus fun community.
A lot of THM’ers refer to things as “on plan” or “off plan” when referring to choices and ingredients. And, one of the best things about THM is that you can make almost anything “on plan.” When the THM authors refer to food freedom, they usually mean that there are no food groups that are restricted on the plan. For me, it has also meant that find recipes that THM’ify anything that I’m craving! I love that I can have what I want and still stay on plan!
There’s also a great, super-supportive, free Facebook community for THM to keep you motivated and inspired! There are groups for many different ages and stages of life from pregnancy and nursing mamas to actual nurses!
My THM Journey
While I’ve never been overweight, I’ve always felt uncomfortable in my own skin. My body worked fine, but I never felt like I had great energy levels or was super “healthy.” I’ve always carried around a little more weight than I wanted to. It seemed like my body’s set weight point is about 10 pounds higher than where I wanted it to be.
There have been two very brief periods in my life where I shed those unwanted “donkey” (aka stubborn) pounds, but they both involved vigorous periods of exercise lasting 1-3 hours a day. That much exercise is not super healthy for the adrenals, gut, or thyroid, and it’s completely unrealistic in this season of life with little babies!
Because when I got pregnant with my first, I was terrified.
Of course, I was super excited that our family was growing and I couldn’t wait to meet our little darling! But, I also knew that some of the women in my family gained weight during pregnancy and usually kept up to 10 pounds as a souvenir after the baby was born. Long after that baby arrived. And 10 pounds from each pregnancy…. And one of my grandmothers had 12 kids! That’s quite a bit of baby weight!
My sister-in-law started posting frequently on Facebook about THM right before I found out I was expecting. She shared some success stories, both her own (she lost over 30 pounds in a few months!) and from the THM Facebook groups. One of those testimonies came from a preggo mama about a healthy weight gain during her pregnancy and easy weight loss in the post partum period.
I was intrigued.
I read every testimonial on the THM website, and the pregnancy/nursing ones twice! Then, I joined the Facebook group. I even ordered the giant 600 page original behemoth of a book (which I still love!). I thought if I could follow these principles, maybe I could have a healthy weight gain during the pregnancy and get my body back afterwards.
It totally worked! And, added bonus, I even lost those 10 donkey pounds! Woohoo!
With my first pregnancy in 2014/2015, I felt amazing! I did gain a little more than I wanted (38 pounds, 10 of which were when I fell hard off the THM wagon in my last month and also felt awful from being off plan). The weight came off quickly and easily after Little Lady #1 arrived. By 6 months post partum, I was back into my regular jeans and had lost all the baby weight. I even lost those last 10 pounds, too!
Added bonus, I felt terrific! I had a ton of energy to keep up with my busy, passionate, adorable girl!
My second THM pregnancy has been different but still overall good. I have had almost all the pregnancy symptoms, like intermittent nausea, headaches, crazy varicose veins, fatigue, mood swings, and acne. But I’m sure that things would be worse if I went off plan. My OB keeps reminding me that every baby and pregnancy are different, so I wanted to encourage you that it’s still important to do good things for your body and baby even if the feelings and results aren’t what you expected!
I’ve had better weight gain with my second baby– I’m up 25 pounds at 35 weeks. Additionally, I started at a lower weight than with my first, so I’m about 15 pounds lighter than with my first at this time. Also, I know from the first baby that these next 5 weeks are crucial to staying on plan and feeling the best that I can! I joined a No-Cheat Challenge Facebook group for motivation. Wish me luck!
THM Quick Start Guide
If you’re anxious to get started quickly and want a bare bones version of the plan, check out the newest book Trim Healthy Table. The first three chapters of the book are devoted to a short and sweet summary of THM, and then the rest of the book is filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous pictures. It’ll introduce you to the plan and get you cooking slimming meals in no time. Plus, the pictures and book itself are so pretty, and I’m pretty sure that food tastes better when it’s pretty.
The original, huge Trim Healthy Mama book is still one of my favorites. It goes much deeper into the sisters research and their journeys that led to creating THM. My favorite part is middle section, which is full of quick and easy recipes that don’t require expensive ingredients. After over 3 years on plan, I’ve gone back to that one for those delicious, quick, and cheap recipes like ginger snaps, creamless creamy veggies, and roasted garbanzo beans. If you love research and data and have some time on your hands, this is a great addition to the THM library.