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Over years of perusing the THM Facebook groups, I’ve come to the realization that THM E meals scare a lot of people. For some reason they look unattainable (what is a carb, again?), unattractive (but I want CHEESE on that!), and un(ful)filling (brown rice? that’s diet food) to the general public. We hear “no more than 45 grams net carbs!” and “E meals never fill me up” and the aversion increases.
I’m here to change your mind. 😉 I happen to love E meals, and after 4 1/2 years on plan, I crave them and even prefer them over S meals about half the time! In my recent post about Trim Healthy Mama strategies that have been working for me, I shared the information that really got me sold on making E meals work. They’re so important as part of a balanced diet and have been an integral part of my breaking through a weight loss stall!
So what makes an E meal?
Lean protein + carb source + Fuel Pull fillers + up to 5 grams (or one teaspoon) of added fat
Tips & Info:
- Lean protein examples: white meat poultry (no skin), wild-caught salmon in moderate portions, white fish, venison, beans, low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, whey protein powder, collagen
- Check out the THM plan book for lists of carb source examples and serving sizes. Beans, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, sprouted bread, and oatmeal are some that immediately jump to mind.
- Fuel Pull fillers can be non-starchy veggies, low-fat dairy products, gluccie shakes or hot drinks, you name it. Again, check out the foods listed by fuel type in the THM plan book for ideas.
- E meals are a great time to incorporate veggies that are a little too starchy for free rein enjoyment in a THM S setting but still don’t have enough carbs to be a proper carb source unless you eat a whole pan full. For example, starchier squashes like butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and green peas.
- Don’t forget that you can use E desserts as carb sources as well! If you’re eating them right along with your meal and not waiting 3 hours, you need to count the carbs in your dessert as part of the carb source for the entire meal. I’ve given plenty of E dessert ideas further on down!
- And while we’re talking about carb sources, there is a 45 g net carb limit in THM E meals so you don’t overload your body and cause your blood sugar to spike. To find net carbs, subtract fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count. Not into counting? Me either. Just pay attention to the general carb serving sizes given in the THM plan book and use common sense. Don’t sweat the numbers if you don’t want to.
- And, remember that to make a true E meal, you need at least 20 g net carbs. If you want an E meal, make sure you have a proper carb source. What do we call that odd no-man’s-land territory between 10 and 20 net carbs that is more carbs than a Fuel Pull but less than a true E? Nobody knows. 😛 The point is that you need to make sure you actually get good solid E meals in on a regular basis. It’s just fine to have those “Light Es” once in awhile as long as you’re getting plenty of carbs in otherwise!
- You can have up to 5 grams of fat in an E meal (this can actually aid digestion!), or you can eyeball it and just include about a teaspoon of added fat with your meal. Now that’s not a teaspoon of butter on your grilled chicken, a teaspoon of butter with your sauteed carrots, and a teaspoon of coconut oil in your Trimmy. That’s a teaspoon of fat in the total meal. (But seriously, don’t stress out about it. Just use a little dab of butter with your roasted veggies and a super light sprinkling of cheese on your salad and call it good. Be aware of your added fats and don’t over-do them.)
- Some people have a hard time going a full 3 hours on E meals. I used to have that problem too but it corrected itself after I had been on plan for awhile. (Odd but true, and I’ve heard the same thing from others!) Some tips for staying full: make sure you’re getting plenty of protein, fill up on veggies, and make use of glucomannan shakes and hot drinks to fill in the cracks.
- Easy Chocolate Oatmeal
- Creamy Maple and “Brown Sugar” Oatmeal
- Creamy PB&J Oatmeal
- Mock “Cinnamon Life” Muesli
- My Fave Overnight Oatmeal
- Overnight Oatmeal Survival Packets
- Scrumptious Overnight Oatmeal 5 Different Ways
- Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
- Cran-Apple Oat Cake
- Ginger Peach Oatmeal Cake
- Pumpkin Chip Baked Oatmeal
Since carrots are starchier than veggies like green beans and cabbage, they’re limited in a THM S setting. I love to enjoy carrots sticks with my THM E lunches!
- Cornbread in a Bowl + Beans
- Easy Mixed Rice & Beans
- Briana’s Fun Bean Soup
- Creamy Sweet Potato Bisque
- Sandwich on sprouted bread* with lean deli meat, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, sliced onion, mustard, and a bit of red wine vinegar
- E dinner leftovers (soup and cornbread, anyone?)
- Salad with a lean protein source such as chickpeas, leftover salmon, or grilled chicken + chopped cucumbers (and other veggies) + fruit (like pineapple) or leftover baked sweet potato cubes + lean dressings like salsa and vinegar and maybe even a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt
- A Fuel Pull veggie-laden shake like the Chocolate Dreamy or Chocolate-Covered Cranberry Superfood Shake with a slice of sprouted bread toast and a piece of fruit
- Leftover baked sweet potato with a teaspoon of butter, THM Super Sweet Blend, salt, and cinnamon. You can add low-fat cottage cheese on top as well for your protein source, add some leftover grilled chicken on the side, or have some protein powder in a hot Fuel Pull drink like this Cranberry Nog.
*We buy Aldi SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted 7 Grain Bread (click here to see what it looks like)
- Grilled chicken tenders with this Fuel Pull Easy Basic Marinade, green peas, and sweet potatoes roasted with a tiny bit of butter, garlic salt, and pepper
- Creamy Chicken Gravy with Seasoned Quinoa
- Pineapple Marinated Chicken
- Asian Grilled Chicken tenders (Fuel Pull) with brown rice and sautéed carrots
- Chicken in Creamy Dill Sauce over brown rice
- Hunter’s Venison Stew over Rice
- Sweet Onion Teriyaki Stir-fry
- Venison burger (very lean) in spaghetti sauce over baked sweet potatoes with a sprinkling of Parmesan on top
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Rice & Beans (with a seasoned rice recipe)
- Simple “Brown Sugar” Grilled Salmon (Fuel Pull) with Seasoned Quinoa and a steamed peas & carrots medley
- Budget-Friendly Cornbread
- Fried Rice
- Other seasoned rice dishes (There’s a Spanish Rice recipe on page 132 of Necessary Food)
- Seasoned Quinoa
- Green peas
- Roasted, sauteed, or steamed carrots
- Baked sweet potatoes with a smidgen of butter, salt, cinnamon, and THM Super Sweet Blend
- Baked butternut squash with the same as above (or just a bit of butter, salt, and pepper)
- Brussels sprouts roasted or sauteed with a bit of butter or coconut oil and seasoned with your favorite seasonings
- Non-starchy veggies
- Banana Milk
- Grapefruit Slushie
- Peach Slushie
- Peach Smoothie
- Ice Cold Fruit Smoothie
- Superfood Breakfast Smoothie
- Easy 3-Ingredient Apple Dip
- Sliced apple with peanut butter made from defatted peanut flour, stevia, salt, and water
- Low-fat cottage cheese with THM Super Sweet Blend, sliced banana, and a few sugar-free chocolate chips
- Low-fat Greek yogurt with stevia and a little almond milk to make it thinner, topped with a bit of Skinny Pop popcorn and a drizzle of Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate syrup (This probably doesn’t have enough carbs to make it a true E, but it makes a great E-ish snack once in awhile as long as you’re getting true E meals into your diet too! Corn is not highly recommended for weight loss, but a little bit on occasion in an E setting is OK. Cut it out if you’re experiencing stalls. Popcorn can be doubly dangerous because it combines corn with lots of fat, but Skinny Pop popcorn doesn’t have a lot of added fat so if you stick to a small amount, you should be fine. I like to use it as a crunch factor in yogurt!)
- Brown rice cakes with peanut butter made from defatted peanut flour, stevia, salt, and water
- Banana Bars
- Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Drizzle
- Carrot Cake
- Carrot Cake for One
- Creamy Peach Pudding
- Creamy Vanilla “Tapioca”
- Rice Pudding
- Dump and Stir Bread Pudding
- Gooey Brownie for One
- Peach Cobbler with Biscuit Topping
- Single-Serve Peach Cobbler
- Single-Serve Peach Frozen Yogurt
- Apple Salad
- Jiggly Cranberry Orange Salad
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole (pg. 62)
- Chicken Enchilada Soup (pg. 105)
- Chili Soup (pg. 102)
- Mexican Rice Casserole (pg. 63)
- One Skillet Cilantro Chicken Meal (pg. 70)
- Pineapple Chicken (pg. 71)
- Taco Soup (pg. 103)
- White Chicken Chili (pg. 104)
- Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes (pg. 117)
- Refried Beans (pg. 130)
- Creamy Black Bean Salsa (pg. 152)
- Mandarin Orange Gello Salad (pg. 136)
- Blueberry Muffins (pg. 175)
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