Trim Healthy Mama
Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett
October 2014 Book Review
—Trim Healthy Mama (THM) is my first formal book review on this blog, but I should explain that I have reviewed books since I was eighteen, some for money, others for education and many for fun. I also have a few published works, nothing too exciting, and more on the academic end. Over the years I have acquired a cookbook collection that is in the 400 book range, many pages marked from use, and have attended numerous cooking classes from around the world. I love to cook for family and friends, but unfortunately after six pregnancies I have to be discerning in terms of what I eat. Aging, lack of healthy lifestyle, gestational diabetes with five pregnancies, a removed gall bladder and the the need for community led me to discover Trim Healthy Mama, a common sense guide to satisfying cravings and energizing your life.
—I originally approached this book from an academic standpoint; is it safe, does it work, is there any credible quantitative data that backs up what the authors’ purport? I even contacted the authors’ several times. and they gave me some insights into the choices they have made when it came to the creation of THM. There is a level of freedom that comes with this book that makes it hard to evaluate. Different individuals take the plan and shape it in to what they feel is safe (sugar replacement choices) and really it comes down to stabilizing your blood sugar, in very simple terms, the elimination of white sugar and high carb meals. diet.
—As I began to discover the pro’s and con’s that come with the THM lifestyle, I discovered something that I felt was even more important, a recognition that I am not living in a way that is consistent with my priorities. I have always believed that health needed to be the top goal for everyone and yet I have not stayed on that course. I am a busy woman, and I often take care of others and their needs with no recognition that my own health is slipping through the cracks. I am not budgeting my time or my money in a way that is consistent with my priorities and beliefs. It is in this spirit of understanding that I wrote the following review.
—The most wonderful part of trying out THM was that I did lose weight (6 lbs) and felt more energetic while just doing the lifestyle part-time. I can’t even imagine what is going to happen next month when I try to do this book full-time. My husband and I made breakfasts and dinners from the book for over two weeks. Believe it or not, I usually skip breakfast and lunch, drinking nothing but coffee with sugar laden creamers. Once I started eating breakfast again I did find I had more energy and I really wanted to eat lunch.
—Trim Healthy Mama begins with a prologue from the author’s husbands. I actually knew from the way I smiled through their husbands’ words, that I would enjoy the book. It is written in a very informal tone and I can only describe the book as “real”. This is real life, written by real people who have been trying to live healthy for years.
—The authors are sisters, and you can clearly tell they have similarities, but are also very different people. They even share their recipes; the same recipes but their very own versions. Pearl hates exercise, Serene keeps her on track and so on. There are funny drawings of the two throughout the book, and in a way you feel like you get to know them both through the pages.
—The first few chapters examine different women and their lifestyles. I actually found in some ways I fit in with all four, just depends on the day. One of the best features of the book is you identify your downfalls (too much takeout) and they give you ways to change (quick and easy recipes so that you are not too tired to cook).
–Another interesting item worth mentioning is the THM community. It is huge! I subscribed to their Facebook page and different Forums while reviewing this book, and was so surprised at the amount of good ideas not to mention yummy recipes that were offered. If you do purchase this book, I strongly suggest you go to their Facebook page and find a community. They really have amazing success stories and organization and budget friendly ideas.
—I am going to condense the rest of the book into pros and cons.
- The Pizza Crust Recipe!!!!! I felt like I was eating deep dish Chicago Pizza. We made this several times and everyone in the house loved it. I used organic pizza sauce without sugar and turkey pepperoni.
- THM is user-friendly and readable. The authors are charming and appear very authentic. They approach leading a healthy lifestyle from a Christian perspective and interweave bible passages and their faith into the text. As an educator I value any text that opens me up to different perspectives and respect that you do not have to believe what others do, but it is important to learn and create dialogue.
- The recipes are good, really good. I have a list of favorites at the end of this review. They are not time consuming and once you cook it for the first time, it really becomes a breeze to do again.
- The lifestyle works! After having a bit of sugar withdrawal on days three and four (at least that is how it was for me) you will begin to crave sugar less and when you do eat something with sugar it tastes way too sweet.
Concerns, not necessarily cons:
- The safety of the sweeteners (taste, calories etc). I am not an expert on Stevia or sweeteners so I would encourage readers to do a bit of digging. I did, and there are a lot of claims but very little credible scientific evidence. If the sweeteners are going to keep you from looking at this book or lifestyle, I would suggest that you do what others have done; consider replacing stevia/truvia with coconut sugar, maple (grade B) or honey and look at the plan from a whole foods approach.
- You will spend a bit of money restocking your pantry, but, a little does go a long way. I keep telling myself I am worth the expense and if that doesn’t convince me….my family is most definitely worth the expense.
- Lack of measurements and portion sizes in recipes. I am a bit torn on whether this is a concern or actually a positive because for some the freedom will be much appreciated, for others that are more black and white, it may prove to be an obstacle. I actually contacted the authors for an explanation as to why they do not give exact portion/serving sizes and their response was a bit of a surprise as it was clear there was a lot of thought in to their design.
We don’t like to assign portions to our meals, since portions tie in with legalism and we don’t like legalism in our plan. We are about food freedom. We’ve found that as you stay on plan and your insulin levels balance that your hunger hormones also balance, which make portion sizes unnecessary.
—I found that my recipes turned out very well even when I was not sure how much of an ingredient to use. My recipes always had leftovers and I have a large family. I think the authors are trying to get people to figure out what is best for their families. I listed this under cons because in the beginning it may be a bit overwhelming for some but it appears this is purposeful and the author’s are attempting to help readers develop their own unique imprint on recipes.
Neither a pro or con: My kids were very picky as to what they would and would not eat on this plan. The little ones ate everything, the teenagers not so much. I wish I had started them out younger.
Some of our favorite recipes:
Muffin in a Mug: My new quick go to for lunches and breakfasts. Easy and very yummy.
Breakfast Quinoa: I already eat homemade oatmeal and quinoa. The kids are not big fans but I really like it on a cold day.
Creamy Crockpot Chicken (S) p.314
This was actually delicious and so easy to put together with just a few ingredients. My husband and I enjoyed it.
The little ones love chili and we had a lot of leftovers for lunches during the week. The beans are a little tough when you do not have a gall bladder but once in a while it is okay to eat.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (from their Facebook page). My husband was a sweetie and made these for me several mornings. It was a perfect fall treat and helped me stay on track.
—I really do believe this book is a game changer in the healthy diets department. Mainly because it has family friendly recipes that are quick and easy, and the authors help parents get back to what they really value. There is so much more I could write, and I strongly encourage you check this book and the success stories out on your own.