More than a few readers find my blog by searching for keywords around the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan (hi!). I found THM after my 7th child was born. It helped me lose those final, stubborn pregnancy pounds. However, I’ve abandoned the plan for good. Here’s why I stopped doing Trim Healthy Mama.
Diet Culture? Not a Fan
Diet culture wasn’t part of my vernacular 7 years ago when I learned of the THM eating plan. But now that it is, I don’t want to support it. Know better, do better, right?
The idea of intuitive eating really appeals to me. I love that so many nutritionists and dietitians are promoting a saner way of thinking about food. In times of my life when I embraced an intuitive (rather than over-thinking) approach, I was happier and healthier.
Separating Carbs and Fats is No Fun
The Trim Healthy Mama diet requires eating meals based on either protein + fat, OR protein + carbs. Sounds easy enough.
The problem is, carbs and fats together are what makes food delicious and satisfying! Bread without butter, pasta without olive oil, beans without cheese? The THM rules suck the fun out of eating, and eating should be pleasurable, full stop.
Mindfulness is essential to intuitive eating. Turns out, when we focus on pleasure and are fully in the moment, we eat less. (Les madames were right all along, bien sur.)
Because protein + fat meals (in THM parlance, “S” for satisfying) are so much tastier, I found myself eating them most of the time. That meant I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrates. This is a common issue. Many of the THM Facebook posts center around the question, “how can I eat more E (carb) meals?!“. I wasn’t alone in that struggle.
Not eating enough carbs is a huge problem for me. It causes my mood and energy to tank. But as I said, who wants rice without butter? Or oatmeal without a little cream? Boring and tasteless.
Sugar Alternatives Taste Like Sadness*
There were very few THM dessert recipes I enjoyed. Out of the dozens I tried, only 2-3 actually tasted good. I much prefer to indulge in a little sugar from time to time. I found that making sugar “forbidden” increased my cravings.
According to my research, stevia in small amounts is likely safe. But the other artificial sweeteners used in THM are probably a bad idea.
*p.s. if you get this reference, I’ll send you a Littmus lozenge. 😉
Trim Healthy Mama Means Always Thinking About Food
Planning THM “on plan” requires doing more planning, shopping, and thinking about food than a typical person does. Even if one does their best to avoid specialty ingredients, it’s simply more fuss to cook “on plan”. Eating out “on plan” is no fun either.
In addition, some of the THM substitutions simply aren’t acceptable to one’s family. Cauli mash ain’t foolin’ nobody. Ha! My kiddos crave real spuds. Keeping one’s family happy necessitated even more time in the kitchen preparing separate dishes. Ain’t nobody got time.
Trim Healthy Mama Makes It Harder to Eat Frugally
Grocery store prices are going up. At a recent budget meeting, I told hubby my goal was to not allow our spending to go up with it. That means getting creative about saving money on groceries again. Trim Healthy Mama makes that harder to do.
One way to eat frugally is doing what I call “taking one for the team“. (This means eating random bits and bobs in the fridge that no one else wants). Doing that “on plan” is nigh on impossible.
Other budget-friendly foods include rice, potatoes, pasta, bread; all difficult to eat on THM. I don’t enjoy “on plan” sprouted or spongy low-carb bread. I buy handmade loaves from a local bakery like a proper wanna-be French girl, and I savor every bite and sigh a lot while eating it. That’s the kind of religious experience I want around eating, not THM fundie lite, spankyouverymuch.
Nutritionists Have Little Good to Say About Trim Healthy Mama
Google searches show that bona fide experts in the field of nutrition have very little positive to say about the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan.
The sisters (Serene and Pearl, creators of the THM merch empire) admit they have no education in the area of medicine or nutrition. Their books pull from their own (cough cough *anecdotal not evidence-based*) experiences with various diets and reading books and studies.
The problem? It’s extraordinarily difficult to understand medical journals as a layperson. Reporters and bloggers often muck it up when they try to paraphrase research studies, often arriving at precisely the opposite conclusion the researchers found. Therefore a health book written by uneducated people really should be taken with a grain of salt. If the diet “works”, it’s because the follower is eating fewer calories, period.
I can’t help but wonder why the sisters have dieted so much to begin with, considering they both appear painfully thin. My intention is not to criticize their physical appearance. But it raises the question, why are rail-thin women dieting in the first place? I legitimately wonder whether they’re orthorexic.
The Most Important Reason Why I Stopped Doing Trim Healthy Mama: Connection to Above Rubies/Quiverfull/Gothardism/IBLP
Serene and Pearl’s mother is Nancy Campbell, publisher of the Above Rubies publication. Above Rubies promotes THM but not the other way around, probably because the controversy surrounding AR would seriously hurt the THM business, which has grown from books to food, skincare, makeup, CBD and other supplements, kitchenware, and a licensed coaching business.
(Note: I’m respectful of everyone’s right to choose their religious belief, but not all religious behavior is worthy of respect, legal or permissible. Any comments in support of the above-named groups will be immediately deleted.)
AR is not an organization I want to give any financial support to, even in the most roundabout way. I won’t link to AR here, but encourage you to do your own research about this organization and what they stand for.
A few places to start:
The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption – a shocking chronicle of abuses perpetrated by evangelicals in the area of international adoption. Don’t want to buy the book? Read this discussion.
Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement’s Adoption Obsession – this expose (and the book linked above) mentions Serene Allison, co-author of Trim Healthy Mama.
Trim Healthy Mama: Is It a Cult?
Cults are my latest literary obsession and I can recite the definitions by heart at this point.
THM itself is a wee bit culty. The many rules, the talk of foods being “naughty” or “cheat” meals, the intimations that fat is sinful, the shame felt by people who leave it – it’s all very legalistic in tone.
The first THM rule book was SO out and out culty, the sisters wrote another without all the fundie stuff. Check out the Amazon reviews to see what I mean. Honorable mention for off-the-charts cringe: The section called “Semen- Gotta Love It!“. Look ladies, I have 7 babies and am no prude, but that brought up a mental image I didn’t need to have about your “husbandly owner”. And no dear reader, I’m not making this stuff up.
One of the hallmarks of a cult is: the leaders cannot be criticized. Ever. When I asked for more information about the adoption debacle in a THM forum, I was shamed and verbally attacked. Never mind the evidence, our savior leaders are flawless! Everything on the internet is lies! Now drink your KoolAid, I mean Good Girl Moonshine, or else!
Did you know that if you wear rose-colored glasses, you can’t see red flags?
How I Maintain a Healthy Weight Without Trim Healthy Mama
That will be a topic for another post! This one’s long enough.
What are your thoughts? Were you once a follower of Trim Healthy Mama and quit? Why?