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‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions, diets, and stretchy clothes to accommodate the holiday bloat…unless you’ve already found an eating lifestyle that works and followed it pretty consistently over the holidays! If that’s you, way to go! My family and I traveled to visit relatives for Christmas and I wasn’t a sugar-free poster child while we were away from home, but I kept my indulgences moderate and didn’t stuff myself with food – off plan or not. When we got home, I was shocked to find that I had actually lost weight! That’s the first time that’s happened in many years! Moderation and contentment really are the keys to a diet that works long term, and I’ve found that Trim Healthy Mama can be tweaked to fit nearly every circumstance. Jumping into a whole new way of eating can be really daunting, though! In today’s post I’m sharing 5 tips for starting THM, so hopefully I can convince you that it’s easy enough for YOU to try!
Want more info about the Trim Healthy Mama plan, what it is, and what it is not? Need explanations for all the new-to-you ingredients and wondering where to find them?
ONE // Read the plan book.
This is a non-negotiable point. If you can’t afford it, check your local library! I recommend starting with the Trim Healthy Mama plan book because it has all the information you need, including some of the science behind the plan, in one easy-to-read, slim volume. The newest THM cookbook, Trim Healthy Table, has a quick start chapter in the front of it as well, but it’s not as in-depth as the plan book and I personally think that you’ll have better luck with the plan long term if you understand it more fully. Knowing a few of the whys will help you make your own informed decisions and give you the tools you need to make the plan fit you and your family instead of having to rely on the THM cookbooks and recipes from bloggers who may not cook the stuff you’re used to eating! If you have a little more knowledge behind you, you’re more apt to stick with the plan instead of falling off the wagon over Valentine’s Day, never to return.
TWO // Cut out flour, sugar, potatoes, white rice, corn, and their derivatives.
Before you worry about buying all these weird ingredients with names that you can’t pronounce (hi, glucomannan!), just get rid of some of the junk! This is the absolute easiest way to start! One of the main points of Trim Healthy Mama is to balance your blood sugar, which improves your overall health and allows your body to release weight, so you’ll need to get rid of the ingredients that really spike your blood sugar. Processed foods are really bad at that. Bread and pasta, sugary cookies and cakes, big ol’ white potatoes or a large French fry from McDonalds…you’ll want to steer clear of those. Out to eat? Pull the bun off your burger and have a side salad and water to drink. Easy as that. Does that sound boring? 1) Get over it. (Slightly joking, but mostly not joking. Contentment is something that I’ve been learning in the last year and it’s had so much to do with the weight loss progress I’m making! Do we really have to be such picky people?? More on that in an upcoming post soon.) 2) You’ll learn more “exciting” things to eat later (and your taste buds might just change to the point that you crave that juicy meat and crisp veggies), but for now, keep it simple! Don’t stress perfection, just make steps in the right direction. If you go the all-or-nothing route, you won’t last long. I have obsessive compulsive disorder and I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with trying to do things perfectly from the get-go, but I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do to improve my overall quality of life is to learn how to tell myself, “No, I’m not going to worry about that right now. I’m just going to take the next right step and trust that the rest will fall into place.”
If you’re looking for alternatives to the foods you’re used to eating, here’s some more detailed information:
- Sprouted or fermented grains/flours are fine because they’ve been broken down to a state kinder to your blood sugar, but keep in mind that store-bought items that tout the “sprouted” label often use sprouted flours in conjunction with regular ol’ white or wheat flour. You’ll have to watch out for that. Aldi carries a sprouted bread (SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off 7 Grain Bread), and you can find other sprouted bread suggestions by searching the main THM Facebook group. Forrealz, y’all, you can use the search bar in that group to find answers to basically any THM question you could ever have.
- Brown rice is fine! Make regular brown rice, not instant – it tastes so much better! The instant brown rice never gets soft when I try to make it. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.
- Sweet potatoes are a great carb source for an E meal, but white potatoes have a higher glycemic index so you should abstain from them.
- Corn can be used in very small amounts in E meals for flavor but is not recommended for weight loss (after all, corn is one of the best ways to fatten animals quickly).
Do you notice how basically all of the foods on the abstain list are carb sources? That’s because fats don’t spike your blood sugar and ask for an insulin response. (Although you still want to choose pure fats like butter and coconut oil instead of canola oil.) You can still have carbs on THM – in fact, they’re an integral part of the plan! – but you do need to be careful that your carbs are slow-burning carbs, not quick, instant, processed carbs. Pair carbs with protein to blunt a blood sugar spike and make sure you have fiber too! Fruit is fine in moderate amounts, although you shouldn’t overdose on it because it can cause a sugar spike too if eaten willy-nilly. Stay away from fruit juice (and those “healthy” fruit smoothies that you buy in the store) because all the fiber has been taken out of it and there’s nothing there to prevent all that natural sugar from rushing your body at once!
If you eliminate a lot of processed foods like bread, pastries, pasta, French fries, soda pop, and the like from your diet, you’re halfway there. Don’t worry – there are plenty of healthy alternatives! CLICK HERE for a big long list of helpful ingredient substitutions or look for suggestions in the THM Facebook group or on Pinterest. If you’re ever looking for a THM-ified version of a recipe, check Pinterest. Chances are, the adaptation has already been done for you!
THREE // Take it one meal at a time.
Sure, you can try changing everything at once, but you might get burned out with that method. A more manageable way to start is to change over one meal at a time. Try eating on plan for breakfast for a week, then add lunch, then supper. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. As you learn the way the plan works, by the time you actually get around to making sure all your suppers are THM-approved, you’ll probably have started making better choices already! Getting a grip on the whole Trim Healthy Mama thing does take time – and that’s only natural! You’re completely normal if most of it makes no sense to you right off the bat! I didn’t understand everything when I started, either; in fact, I thought that the Greek yogurt cups with sugary berry topping on the side were completely healthy! I mean, Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt, right? Sure, it had more protein than what I ate before, but it still wasn’t completely on plan. Within a few months, I understood the concepts and instantly knew what fuel type something was without even expending any mental energy. It just takes time – some day in the not-so-distant future you’ll wake up and realize that your breakfast was an E because you had a carb source (2 slices of sprouted bread toast), lean protein (low-fat Greek yogurt), and a teaspoon of added fat (a smidgen of butter on your toast).
FOUR // Find healthy versions of your family’s favorite dinners instead of trying totally new recipes.
What if you’re not quite as adventurous as Pearl and Serene (or…ahem…that girl named Briana with the weird taste buds)? That’s when you need to focus on finding healthy versions of the stuff your family already eats. This is a great way to get the whole family on board with you so you don’t have to cook two meals, plus it’s less daunting than leaping into totally unfamiliar territory! You already have a lot of new stuff going on – new ingredients, a brand new alphabet, new restrictions on what you can and can’t eat – so the last thing you need is meals that don’t even sound appetizing! (Don’t get me wrong – Trim Healthy Table has a lot of classic family-style recipes, but if you can’t find recipes like what you’re used to, there are other places to look. I’m just reminding you not to think that you’re stuck with just one source of recipes!) Most family favorites are easy to THM-ify, and you can find all kinds of healthy versions on Pinterest. (Just search “THM _____.” Or “Low carb _____,” which will most likely give you recipes that can be used in a THM S setting.) You can find some of our family favorites made healthy here on my website, and my cookbook includes a lot more. CLICK HERE for a post that shows you how to THM-ify many family favorite entrees and side dishes!
FIVE // Give yourself grace.
I’ve kind of already covered this one, but it’s the absolute most important in my eyes. This way of eating is a big learning curve, but you’ll get it. Any progress is a step in the right direction! Don’t sweat the small stuff when you’re just starting out. Do what you can, re-read the book until it makes sense, and keep things super simple. If you’re content with eating the same thing a few times a week at the beginning, you’ll gain confidence to spread your wings and won’t get so overwhelmed. Getting healthy, and even losing weight and maintaining the weight loss, is a long term journey that can’t be hiked in a day. You can do it! Just take it one step at a time.
CLICK HERE to sign up via email if you don’t want to miss upcoming posts on some of the strategies I’ve been implementing lately! I was stalled for a long time, but the scales are moving steadily now thanks to some changes over the past year – many of them inspired or confirmed by my fiancé, believe it or not! He doesn’t know much about THM (yet), but he’s pretty smart and a lot of what he’s taught me about nutrition and fitness goes hand in hand with what Pearl and Serene have been talking about in recent podcasts.
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Want to start the New Year out right? Grab a copy of my cookbook to get nearly 400 RECIPES to jump start your healthy journey! You’ll find lots of our Thomas family church cookbook favorites made healthy in this easy-to-use, hard cover/spiral bound book. CLICK HERE for details!