This book has been growing in popularity like CRAZY over the past couple of years. I first heard about it during my last pregnancy. Written by sisters Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, the book covers all the nutritional knowledge the pair have gathered over decades of research! Curious about it, I read several Trim Healthy Mama reviews and experiences from bloggers. I found conflicting information – some say that there are too many “weird ingredients” to fit into a natural lifestyle, while others say anyone can make it work.
I wanted to find out for myself. Welby Street Press generously sent me a review copy of the book so that I could try the plan out for myself – PLUS a copy of the book to give away to one of you! (Stop by tomorrow!!!)
The S and E Plan – An Overview
The plan is sort of confusing to get started with, but it becomes second nature after a few weeks. While most people are referring to the whole plan as just “Trim Healthy Mama” it's really called the “S and E plan.” That's because it's focused on two types of meals for weight loss – “S meals” that are satisfying and “E meals” that are energizing.
S meals are lower in carbohydrates, higher in fat.
E meals are higher in carbohydrates, lower in fat.
Both meal types contain plenty of protein! The idea is that you should only use either fat or carbs as your main energy source in a single meal if you want to achieve weight loss. When you have both fat and carbohydrates present in significant amounts in a single meal, you're what the sisters refer to as “tandem fueling” which is great for growing children but not so much for adults with weight to lose!
There are other types of meals covered in the book:
Crossovers, with significant amounts of both fat and carbs, for weight gain or maintenance (or to prevent too-rapid weight loss, such as during breastfeeding.)
Fuel Pulls, which are high in protein and low in both fat and carbohydrates for more speedy weight loss.
There are a few ingredients that are “off plan” altogether. I'm not going to list them all here, since that information is readily available elsewhere, but I will say that I haven't missed anything. White flour, white sugar, and aspartame are all on the list and as I'm sure you can guess, I already avoided those. Corn is also on the list – which I used to eat but haven't missed (too much..)!
So… Does it Work??
I've been eating this way for about 6 weeks now, as I started it a couple weeks postpartum. I didn't start right away after giving birth for a couple of reasons:
- I wanted to wait until I had lost all the water weight and bit of excess that naturally “falls off” after giving birth. For me, this is about 10 pounds. I knew from experience that I lose a bit of weight by doing NOTHING so I didn't want to attribute that bit of weight loss to the plan, as that wouldn't be accurate.
- I didn't want to jump into a whole new way of eating until I had established my milk supply, since I exclusively breastfeed my daughter.
Since then, I have lost 21 pounds! So… I would say it definitely works! The added bonus is that I have a TON of energy, and have pretty much since I gave birth aside from a few “sick days” recently.
Since I haven't been on the plan for too long, I plan to do a follow-up Trim Healthy Mama review in a few months to let you all know how it's going. Yes, I've lost weight – but I am curious about how much of that is due to separating carbs and fats (“the plan”) and how much is due to replacing sugar with stevia and just eating fewer carbohydrates overall. I look forward to continuing and seeing where I end up – and sharing my experience!
The number one criticism of the book that I've seen is that there are too many artificial and processed ingredients involved in this way of eating.
What you need to realize is that the book was written by two sisters with two very different outlooks and personalities. Serene is a “food purist” who doesn't eat anything artificial and makes everything from scratch. Pearl gives herself a lot more leeway and isn't quite so strict. So no matter where you are on the “crunchy spectrum,” you can make it work.
- Weird ingredients? There are a few ingredients in the recipes that are more processed, it's true. BUT they are not necessary to follow the plan and you can definitely make it work without them! In fact, the only ingredient I've added to my kitchen that I didn't use before is stevia, an herbal extract that I'm a-ok with.
- Safe for breastfeeding? So far so good! Little mama is 9 weeks old, EBF and thriving.
- MICROWAVE???? Yes, there are some recipes that call for the dreaded microwave. I actually don't have a problem using the microwave, but I know a lot of you crunchy people do. It's another
A Typical Day
Eating this way required quite a lot of thought and planning at first, but I have it down now so that I can quickly prepare meals that are either S or E while making it a crossover for the rest of the family. Here's an example of what a day might look like for me. It's a lot of food! Keep in mind, I'm nursing. 😉
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries, coffee. (E)
- Secondbreakfast, if I'm hungry: cottage cheese or a protein shake. (FP)
- Lunch: Flax bread with peanut butter. (S)
- Snack: A salad with honey mustard dressing and chicken or salmon. (can be S or E depending on the chicken used and how the dressing is made)
- Dinner: Stir-fry with ground beef and lots of veggies! (S)
- Snack/Dessert: Peanut butter cups made from coconut oil, cocoa, natural peanut butter and stevia.
I lean more toward S meals personally, simply because it's easier for me to enjoy low-carb meals than low-fat meals.
Worth the Price?
This book is pricey – no argument there. At $35, it definitely has a higher price tag than other “diet books” out there. Is it worth it? To me, yes it is – and here's why:
- I have learned more about the basics of nutrition – ie. the way our bodies metabolize the macronutrients carbohydrates, fat, and protein – than I have in YEARS of independent research on nutrition.
- There is a section called “Foxy Mama” on marital intimacy that really could be a whole ‘nother book on it's own…
- ….and another section chock full of recipes that could be it's own COOKBOOK. My point is, the book is HUGE and covers a lot of different information, so it is really like you are getting several different books in one.
- It's just plain fun to read. Serene and Pearl coauthored this book and it is so much fun to get to know their unique personalities and witness their sisterly arguments within the pages. 😉 You can also really tell through the writing style that they are busy moms who created this guide as a true labor of love. If you read it, I know you'll see what I mean!
I am so happy to have read this book. I know I've gained nutritional knowledge that I'll use for the rest of my life, even when I'm no longer trying to lose weight. I would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about nutrition to check it out, whether or not weight loss is a goal!