Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there were two sisters named Pearl and Serene who were looking for ways to lose weight. They started separating their carb and fat sources and noticed the scale started trending down. As they documented their journey of following separate carb and fat heavy meals, they just had to tell the world about their success. Thus, Trim Healthy Mama (THM) was born. They hit the New York Times Best Sellers list and contributed to the $66 billion spent on diet plans and products each year.
Snap back to reality! Let’s get something straight; two sister found an eating pattern that worked for their bodies and now make hundreds of thousands of dollars telling others to follow the same plan. All of this was done from their kitchens. No nutrition background, no research, no scientific evidence, no health and wellness background of any sort. Just another social media crazed, Pinterest savey duo telling people to eat a very specific way because it helped them lose a few pounds.
When it comes to losing weight or eating for your body, no two people are the same. What works for some, may not work for others. Not only that, but once again, here is a diet plan that demonstrates some sort of deprivation; leading followers to miss out on optimal nutrition.
Trim Healthy Mama: The Plan
The THM plan is not as extensive when it comes to things you can and cannot eat, like most diet plans. Instead of focusing on lists of approved and banned items, this plan is more about the combination and timing of meals and snacks. As stated before, separating carbs and fats from one another is the main focus. The idea around this separation is to help with insulin spikes, though there is no scientific evidence to back up whether or not separating the two “fuel sources” will lead to weight loss.
Carb-Centered vs Fat-Fueled
When it comes to choosing your carb sources, the plan suggests sticking to fruits, starchy vegetables, sprouted or sourdough breads, pastas and crackers. Since sprouted and sourdough items each have a low glycemic index, they are less likely to cause an insulin spike. Though, other carb sources are not necessarily off limits, the two creators encourage dieters to stick with whole foods when deciding on their choices.
Meals and snacks that consist of a carb source should be paired with a lean protein. For example, non-fat cheeses or yogurts, non-fat cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, egg whites, beans, etc. When the meal consists of more fat sources, the protein should be fattier as well. Some options include beef, whole fat dairy and nuts. The best example to know what these meal difference would look like is to look at breakfast. The more carb focused breakfast might look like having an egg white omelet with starchy vegetables and a side of fruit. On the flip side, the fat focused meal would be a whole egg omelet with cheese and a breakfast meat such as sausage or bacon. Not much balance, is there?
Ohh, Sugar Sugar
The other main limitation in this diet is sugar. This diet encourages followers to limit added sugar intake and replace it with Stevia. Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener that is 30-150 times sweeter than table sugar. While this diet can be aimed at anyone, even though the title seems to be geared toward mothers, the idea behind replacing sugar with Stevia came from fertility issues. Though there is no hard evidence, many studies have looked at the effects of sugar and infertility and miscarriages. The THM founders related their diet choices and pregnancy to having a low sugar diet. When it comes to fertility, always consult your doctor when making diet changes.
Timing is Everything in the Trim Healthy Mama Meal Plan
The last main “rule” for following the THM diet is you have to eat every three hours. Keeping a consistent eating pattern helps with blood sugar levels and keeping you satisfied. As long as you are keeping your carb and fat sources separated, being able to eat every 3 hours seems pretty doable, doesn’t it?
The THM plan seems pretty promising, right? There are no banned food lists, you get to eat on a regular schedule through the day, and you get to use a zero calorie sweetener instead of sugar. Sounds easy enough! But there are definitely some drawbacks, just like any other fad diet.
Be Prepared to Prep and Plan
The first downside is the planning and work around the plan. The original book has over 600 pages of information, recipes, meal plans and “guidance”. That’s a whole lot of reading just to get started. Not to mention, the recipes found in the meal involve a lot of meal prep. While there are still easy, on-the-go items, if you want your meals looking like their Instagram and Pinterest pages, be prepared to cook up a storm. There seems to be a lot of time and commitment just for preparing meals.
Along with the planning of meals comes analyzing your food. Your meals and snacks need to be carb centered or fat fueled. There’s a lot of thinking and reworking your choices to make sure you are following the plan correctly. A diet only works if you follow every single rule to a T, right?
I don’t think I need to mention again the lack of research and background of the diet parameters. But this plan is also lacking education and guidance. Once again, here is a diet that has all these claims, but does not give any further resources or support to get you through the plan. You are all on your own to support and motivate yourself.
Trim Healthy Mama Meal Plan: Lifestyle or Dietstyle?
While THM claims to be a lifestyle change, to me, it has a very strong diet mentality. Who can go on for a lifetime of altering between carb heavy and fat focused meals? A lifestyle change, in terms of food, means being able to have flexibility and freedom to eat with moderation and balance. There are no set rules or regulations. There is only enjoying your favorite foods, while incorporating nutrient dense items as well.
Noom is all about that lifestyle change mindset. Without having to follow a plan or think about rules, you learn how to balance your eating. It is not so much about what you can and cannot eat but how you can eat all the foods you love. The idea behind this is that Noom understands life happens. We all have good and bad days, stress happens, celebrations arise; it is about learning how to be flexible and forgiving of yourself when you have a slip-up.
Not Just Another Calorie Counter
Logging your foods in the Noom app not only allows you to see your calorie breakdown throughout the day, but also helps you analyze your choices. Starting the day off strong with a hearty breakfast, sticking to your lunch choices and preparing a nutrient dense dinner sets you up for success. But some days you just need to have your go-to snacks to get through another dramatic episode of the Bachelor. Noom gets that! You most certainly can have those snacks, but learn how to enjoy them in a more mindful way. Instead of putting the entire bag of popcorn next to you, you can start to develop the habit of portioning it out in a bowl to get you through the episode. It is small changes like this that add up to big success.
Lean on Noom
Not only are you learning how to adjust your eating habits one small goal at a time, you are not alone in the process. Each Noomer has their own set of coaches. That’s right, not one but two coaches to endure the journey with you. Your goal specialist works with you on a weekly basis to construct goals to get you through your milestones. Your group coach’s role is for daily interaction.
Next Level Support
Which brings me to a unique part of the Noom app, the group. Without support, losing weight can seem like an impossible task. Aside from your coaches, you also have the opportunity to interact with other Noomers utilizing the app as well. The group is designed to be a safe, open space for everyone to tackle their goals together. The group coach will lead conversations, post challenges and guide you through the ups and downs. But it’s the others in the group that can add that extra level of encouragement. While the THM community has a Facebook group for you to participate in, there is no real sense of guidance or facilitation.
Another way Noom differs from THM, or any other diet plan, is the research that goes into it’s daily content. It’s not just about food and exercise routines, but other components in life that affect weight; sleep, emotions, work, friends and family. There are so many avenues that can disrupt weight loss, Noom’s curriculum hits many of them! It is not just about logging food and having a support group, but having daily content in the palm of your hand each day pushes you to create goals around areas you may never have thought of before. Thinking outside the box can lead to big ah-ha moments that can be a turning point in a lifestyle change. Losing weight is not an exact science, but utilizing science to understand your body and how it reacts to different patterns and habits is what leads to long term changes.
Live by Rules, or Just Live Life?
So, once again, you may be presented with the question of ‘should I try this diet’. The answer? Only you can decide. If a plan sounds a little out-there and seems a bit odd, then it might not be for you. But if trying something with a little more structure and rules is what you need to kick start your weight loss journey, then give it a try. There’s no real danger to trying out the THM plan. The question to always ask yourself when deciding on a diet is what is your plan when the diet is “over”? Sustainability should always be the determining factor. With Noom, we thrive on sustainability, as we have no crazy rules. If learning how to make better decisions for you and your body sounds like something you want for the long run, then shut down Pinterest, get off that social media influencer’s Instagram and start making your health a priority.
Author: Maggie Hudspeth, RDN