Since then, I've received questions nearly every day about how I did it with traditional foods. As well as emails and comments from readers who say they're so encouraged it could be done after all with traditional foods (many of whom were ready to give up but decided to take a second look).
For awhile now, I've been promising that I would share more about that journey. And that's what I'm doing today — sharing my tips for doing Trim Healthy Mama with only traditional foods.
A quick disclaimer: The 13 tips I share in this post are all in terms of “I” and this is because I'm not authorized to teach Trim Healthy Mama to anyone. These 13 tips are the things I would tell myself if I were starting all over again. I'm not telling you what to do, understand. 😉
Speaking of starting all over again… Keep an eye out for this Friday’s podcast: “If I Were Starting Trim Healthy Mama With Traditional Foods All Over Again…”. In that podcast, I share five more tips (with myself), including which foods I would absolutely never try again if I were starting all over. (And what they did to my insides.)
Before I get to the tips, let's get some basics out of the way.
Trim Healthy Mama Basics
A very simplistic overview of Trim Healthy Mama (THM) is this:
There are two types of foods that provide fuel — carbs and fats. As we age or get more sedentary, we need less of these fuel sources, yet we are probably eating the same amounts we always have. Which means, we’re getting more fuel than we need.
Uh-oh. What happens to the excess? It gets stored as body fat. Uh-oh is right.
The simple way around this is to avoid eating both types of fuels (fat and carbs) in any given meal or snack, while always eating protein — it’s important.
So the meals are composed of either carbs and protein –OR– fat and protein. That’s how any one meal or snack provides your body with just one fuel source — and therefore nothing extra to store as fat.
And honestly, the fairly easy (in my experience) weight loss probably has a lot to do with reducing excess caloric load, too. When you’re careful about keeping sugar down, for instance, you simply don’t eat extra calories. Which don’t get stored as fat, etc.
In the THM world, here are the important acronyms that describe these types of meals/snacks and what they mean:
- E = Energizing (protein and carb)
- S = Satisfying (protein and fat)
- FP = Fuel Pull (protein only, eat sparingly on its own or often with E or S)
Again, you can read my story of losing more than 30 pounds in 1 year here. I am still following Trim Healthy Mama, and nearly a year later, have maintained my 30+ pound weight loss.
Here's a link to the brand-new plan book (a huge improvement over the first version). And, here's a brand-new THM cookbook, which is also a huge improvement over the previous style of recipes in the first version.
And now… a baker's dozen of tips for doing THM with traditional foods…
1. Yogurt is my bestest THM friend.
Though you can buy organic yogurt, it’s one of the easiest things to make at home, and saves you quite a bit in doing so! Especially because you can end up eating a lot of it when doing Trim Healthy Mama.
The yogurt is actually healthier and works better on THM if you make it yourself. One reason is you can add gelatin — which thickens it and is really good for us. Also, you can ferment it for 24 hours to completely reduce the lactose (milk sugar). The lactose reduction makes it even more S-friendly than the six to eight hour fermented store-bought yogurt.
If using non-homogenized milk, the cream separates to the top during the culturing, and you can skim it away after its chilled. This means you can turn your yogurt into a Fuel Pull (only protein, neither fat nor carbs). Use the skimmed sour cream in S meals or to make cultured butter.
If using raw milk and using the gelatin to thicken it (because raw milk yogurt doesn’t set up without gelatin added), it’s more diverse in probiotics than yogurt made with pasteurized milk.
Here's how to make homemade raw milk yogurt using your Instant Pot. Or go here for my recipe that uses a dehydrator (you could use a cooler instead).
Also, I show how to make raw milk yogurt with gelatin inside Traditional Cooking School’s Cooking Outside eCourse. Though in that recipe you’ll see how I make it outside in the summer (when I avoid cooking in the house), the yogurt can be done in the dehydrator indoors as well.
2. Cottage cheese is my next-best THM friend.
Did you know that cottage cheese can be naturally low fat?
I make it with skimmed raw milk. Or, I buy organic low fat cottage cheese. Either way, it’s a perfect cheese (FP) to go with your E or S meals. Tip #3 is highly related to this, but needs its own spot in the list. 🙂
My recipe is here. Use cow milk and skim the cream off for another purpose before beginning the recipe.
3. Instead of mayo, use blended low-fat cottage cheese.
E ideas: Toss with chicken breast or wild salmon for chicken salad or salmon salad, then eat with sourdough bread for a great E meal. Add stevia and cinnamon to create a delicious “sweet” spread for sourdough toast or pancakes, or as a dip for jicama, in an E meal or snack.
With either S or E snacks/meals: Add herbs to turn it into a dip for veggies. Thin it down with apple cider vinegar and/or water and add herbs/spices to create a salad dressing. Mix with salmon or chicken and stuff into cooked egg white halves (pictured above).
4. Who needs cheese, anyway?
Seriously, stop bemoaning the fact that you can’t have regular cheese in your E meals (I'm saying to myself). Instead, cottage cheese or yogurt as toppings are delicious. Save the cheese for S meals and enjoy fully.
5. Use non-denatured, grass-fed whey protein.
If you’re going to pursue protein powders, here’s the one I recommend: Vital Whey Protein. It’s non-denatured and from grass-fed cows.
I did use this a lot in the beginning (in yogurt smoothies) but I don’t buy it anymore. I am good with the amount of protein that’s in my yogurt (and other meat sources) naturally.
So really, I don’t think this is a necessary expense. It's nice to have around, though. Certainly when traveling, it's quite handy!
6. Traditional Cooking School’s sourdough is PERFECT for breads.
On THM, you can still eat bread. Only you want to eat small amounts and preferably soured. This is because the souring reduces the starch; the sourdough culture has eaten it during the souring time.
Well, our no-knead sourdough and the english muffins are not only super easy, they're sourdough, and they have no fat in the dough or for cooking. (More info here or go here for my free no-knead einkorn sourdough bread.)
These are the only breads I eat, and I use einkorn grain because it has less gluten and less starch than modern wheat. Einkorn is better overall for me, because modern wheat triggers the return of my seasonal allergies. We have a whole class on einkorn inside Traditional Cooking School.
Also, THM pancakes make great breads. I use pre-soaked oats in the recipe. It's a recipe where you blend oats, egg whites, and cottage cheese together and fry up like pancakes. Use as bread.
7. Traditional Cooking School’s grain-free coconut flour wraps are amazing in S meals.
Absolutely amazing! I have to credit my friend Jami Delgado for this wrap recipe. She shared it in our Allergy-Free Cooking eCourse in one of the grain-free lessons.
Tacos, wraps, sandwiches, alongside eggs… Whatever S meal you’re having, one of these wraps will go alongside it for dipping, wrapping, or anything bread-like you’d like to do.
8. Cook a whole chicken, debone it, and separate it into S and E parts.
The fatty parts of the chicken are the dark meat (thighs and drumsticks). The lean part of the chicken is the breast. So when you debone your whole chicken, keep the parts separate. Use the thighs and drumsticks in S meals. Use the breast in E meals (like chicken salad or sandwiches).
The easiest way to cook whole chickens? Crockpot. 🙂
9. Hemp milk (or other homemade non-dairy milks) make great “creamer” for healthful beverages.
A bit of hemp milk and stevia in tea (or DIY Herbal Coffee) is absolutely delicious.
Hemp milk on its own is not sweet like regular milk and some people don’t care for it. Almond or hazelnut milk, or even homemade coconut milk (from defatted coconut shreds), are more mildly flavored.
We have instructions for all sorts of dairy-free nut and seed milks in our Allergy-Free Cooking eCourse.
10. Sweet Leaf stevia has no aftertaste.
Most people that I talk to who have tried and eschewed stevia in the past are pleasantly surprised by the no-aftertaste Sweet Leaf stevia.
I use Sweet Leaf stevia in warm and cold beverages, my “lemonade”, smoothies, and even desserts. (Though I don't have special desserts too often; dark chocolate suits me fine most of the time.)
11. A lot of your existing traditional food recipes can be THM-ified easily.
I hardly ever use the THM recipes. (Except the cheesy cauliflower side dish from the original cookbook — it's awesome.) Not to say the cookbook isn't worth getting. I do have it, both of them actually, and I look at them for inspiration more often nowadays.
Most of the time since I began this, though, I've THM-ified our existing meals and recipes. Like…
Spaghetti sauce goes over spaghetti squash (for me). This is an S meal.
For my S meals, I keep starches out of soups and casseroles and skillet dishes. The rest of the family serves the starches on their plates together with the rest of the main dish, and I leave the starches off mine.
Or, I will have the non-starch sauce or dish with a big heaping green salad. Or put a cut-up hamburger right on top of a big salad. I call this hamburger salad and it's yummy.
For an E meal, I'll make wild salmon salad or chicken salad using blended cottage cheese as mayo and then eat it on sourdough bread. (Or wild salmon salad or chicken salad the usual way with real mayo and a coconut flour wrap is an S.)
Once you get in the hang of it, you will easily be doing the same. And the main reason is that with whole food cooking, you know what ingredients you're using (nothing hidden) so you can rearrange and get it to work.
12. Noodles? Use Vegetables!
Spaghetti squash, shredded cabbage, or zoodles (zucchini strips) make fabulous noodles. So you can still have “noodles” in your S meals, too.
More info on these types of grain-free noodles is in our Allergy-Free Cooking eCourse.
13. Your favorite superfood supplements work right in!
All are still so good for you on Trim Healthy Mama.
I have my cod liver oil with an S meal or snack.
And those are the 13 tips I'd give myself if I were starting this journey all over again!
If you've done Trim Healthy Mama with traditional foods, what tips would you add?
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).