Heard of Trim Healthy Mama and want to know more? You will learn the basics and start understanding the THM plan in no time!
Trim Healthy Mama is a weight loss program that focuses on separating carbs and fats at meals. There are also some other things like eliminating sugar and eating protein with every meal in an effort to avoid blood sugar spikes.
I have personally followed the Trim Healthy Mama plan since March 2018 and lost 60 lbs that I gained while pregnant with my second child. Then my husband lost 40 lbs and improved multiple health issues that he was having.
If you want to learn more about this way of eating, I’ll share the basic principles that will help you to succeed and some tips I’ve learned along the way. THM can help you whether you want to lose weight, increase your energy levels or just live an overall healthier lifestyle.
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Trim Healthy Mama – Understanding the THM Plan
The very core of the THM plan is to separate fuels when eating in order to help perpetuate maximum movement on the scale each week.
But when you first start looking at all the acronyms associated with THM, it can seem like a foreign language. Don’t worry – I’ll make it totally easy!
Understanding THM Fuel Types
Let’s start with a quick & easy definition for the fuel types on Trim Healthy Mama.
THM S Meal
A thm s meal is essentially a low carb or Keto meal. There are some small differences but if you get that principle, you will do well with S meals.
An example of an ideal S plate would include healthy fats, protein, non-starchy vegetables and would be low in carbs.
THM E Meal
E meals include healthy carbs and are low in fat. Not all carbs are created equal though! Examples of allowable THM carbs would include (but not limited to): sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans or fruits like apples or pineapple.
An example of an ideal E plate would include a healthy carb source, protein, non-starchy vegetables and would be low in fat.
THM XO Meal
A thm XO meal includes both fats and carbs in one meal.
An example of a XO (also referred to as a “Crossover”) would be a significant source of both fats and carbs. So a steak (fatty meat) + a serving of brown rice (Healthy Carb) would be a crossover.
The example above has too many carbs to be an S meal & too much fat to be an E meal. So it bridges the two together (and blends the fuels vs. separating them).
Eating XO’s all the time may not result in losing weight as quickly as you would like. But don’t write them off completely! A lot of us find that an occasional XO meal can actually help us to start losing again.
THM S Helper
An S helper is an S meal that introduces a partial carb source. For example, bacon, eggs and a piece of sprouted toast is an S helper.
THM Fuel Pull Meal
A thm fuel pull (FP) is what I call a “nothing” food. If you have ever followed Weight Watchers, it is like a zero point food. A freebie.
You have two options with a FP. You can have an entire fuel pull meal. An ideal FP meal would consist of foods that do not have a significant source of fats or carbs. An example might be a skinless chicken breast (rotisserie or grilled) with green beans.
Your other FP option is to use them in other fuel meals since they are freebies. Here is an example of how to use green beans (FP) in an S & and E meal)
Pork Chops (S) with Green beans (FP) = S Meal
Chicken Breast (FP) with Green beans (FP) & a Medium Sweet Potato (E) = E Meal
My Favorite Recipes
There are always a handful of recipes that you just make over and over. I’m not talking about complicated desserts (although this 2 layer pumpkin cheesecake is worth repeating) but rather just simple meals that you can whip up on a Tuesday between school, work, ballet & soccer.
Here are some of my go to easy meals:
Cottage Cheese Bowls – There are E & S options listed. Fun Fact? I hated cottage cheese before THM but adding in fun mix ins make cottage cheese pretty appealing.
Lean Ham & Beans – You can make this meal in 15 minutes and it is one that my whole family eats!
White Chicken Chili Pantry Meal – Everything you need to make this is in your pantry & it comes together in 15 minutes!
Getting Started On the Trim Healthy Mama Plan
As a beginner, THM can seem a bit overwhelming. In fact, the first time that I did THM around January of 2017, I did it a week or two and quit. Why? Because I make it into a second job.
You don’t have to make it hard! Follow these tips to make it easy to start eating the Trim Healthy Mama way.
- Read the plan book. I can write all the cliff notes in the world to give you the gist of it but if you are really serious, read the book. It really is helpful to understand the details of the plan and you will feel more confident in your approach.
- Pick A Protein – When you are ready to start planning meals, remember that you want to pick a protein regardless of the type of meal that you are eating. The protein helps to keep you full and may help to keep your blood sugar stable.
- Separate Your Fuels – Eat s meals, fuel pull meals and e meals in a rotation. You don’t have to follow a particular pattern. I follow the “feed my body what it feels like” method. You can read more about THM Fuel rotation here.
- Eat Simply – I don’t recommend trying to create a bunch of complicated recipes your first week. Just try what you are comfortable with. Grilled meats and roasted veggies are just fine when you are starting out (and still some of my faves as a veteran).
What Can’t You Eat on THM?
Now that you know how to separate your fuels, you need to learn the foods to avoid while following the Trim Healthy Mama Diet.
Here are a few of the major things that we avoid:
- Sugar – A big sugar detox is in your future! It isn’t fun but it is so healing for the body once it is done. I know you will feel better after you quit the sugar.
- Artificial Sweeteners – THM does not allow artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. The on plan sweeteners are natural sweeteners such as Stevia.
- White Flour – White flour is not used on this program. Sprouted grains are an allowable carb for e meals if you are looking for an on plan bread option. Here is a list of breads you can find at your local grocery.
There are also a few myths surrounding a few foods. Many people that read the original book without listening to the podcasts or reading new updates may believe that potatoes and bananas are off limits.
However, the sisters have come back to clarify that both are ok to consume in moderation in e meals.
Is THM Just Another Fad Diet?
I 100% think it is a sustainable approach to eating healthy. My husband and I typically follow this way of eating about 90-100% of the time.
We do occasionally go off plan for certain holidays/special events. I’m also a sucker for when my 3 year old decides to share some of his sweet treats (don’t worry, the sharing isn’t frequent!). And if that little blue eyed boy gives me a gummy worm, I savor that moment with my baby & exercise what we refer to as food freedom.
Food freedom is the ability to give yourself grace when you go off plan.
Back to fad dieting. Since THM focuses on eating whole and clean foods, I feel that it is pretty much impossible to label it as a fad diet.
With that being said, some of the complicated recipes and multiple ingredients could cause some people to view it as having fad tendencies. But if you take the simple and easy approach to THM that I do and just eat healthy food, it is definitely possible to follow this plan long term.
THM Special Ingredients – What is the Deal?
I actually wrote an entire post on this topic. You can read it in it’s entirety here but I will give you the short version now.
You don’t need special ingredients to succeed on the plan. You can go years without buying 200 flavor extracts, weird teas and flours. I’ve never tried matcha and don’t know how to pronounce Baobab. (Now I’m feeling a bit uneducated so here I go to Google).
In fact, 3 years in and most of my meals are just real, whole foods that you can find at your normal grocery store.
So why does THM promote a lot of these special ingredients? I have my opinion but I’ll give you a couple.
- They Sell Them – The THM store has a variety of sweeteners, protein bars, extracts and baking blend. They even sell personal care products. I have tried quite a few of these over the course of time and they make good products. Of course the sisters would promote products that they produce, sell and believe in – any good Boss Lady would do the same!So my advice would be to buy it if you want to. If the convenience is appealing or you just love the blue skies colada hydrates (slow, unashamed hand raise), get them. Enjoy your special stuff.But don’t think it is a requirement.Do you remember Atkins when it first came out? People were able to eat low carb before the Atkins brand came out with protein bars and TV dinners. And you can do the same with THM if you want to. Or you can buy the protein bar – totally your call.
- Special Ingredients are Fun – What sounds more appealing? #1 is an apple. #2 is a sugar free apple streusel with a cinnamon “sugar” oat topping and caramel glaze.Probably the second one sounds a little more enticing.The special ingredients are sexy, fun and more like recipes that you might be used to from your pre-THM time. And I think that is why special ingredients get a lot of “screen time” on places like the THM facebook group! But if you don’t want to buy a bunch of special ingredients you can still find fun and free recipes on my blog and even in the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook (marked as NSI – no special ingredients). Like how about THM FP Dippin’ Dots that only use one ingredient and take about 5 minutes to make?? That is fun too. It is also cheap & can be found at your grocery store.
Now I don’t want to sound like I hate special ingredients! They have their place.
For example, if buying some special extracts helps you to create a sipper that gets you to stop drinking soda – go for it!
If you just like trying all the newest THM trends. Great!
What I don’t want is for someone to see a recipe with 10 things that they have never heard of and think THM isn’t going to work for me. It doesn’t fit my busy life or my budget. Because I promise you that you CAN do it without those special things.
The only special things that I use on a very consistent basis is an on plan sweetener. On rare occasion I may also use some on plan flour or the THM baking blend. Other than that, I am special ingredient free normally aside from some store bought convenience foods.
On Trim Healthy Mama you will hear the 3 hour term frequently.
The recommendation is to eat every three hours in an effort to keep your blood sugar stable (and I also think it helps to avoid binge eating when you don’t eat for many hours and then you are starving and as a result overeat).
Meals and snacks can basically be viewed as the same. While I do eat less for snack time, the items that you can eat are the same. The basic rule is to eat enough to keep you full for 3 hours.
As a general rule, we don’t measure, count calories or macros on the THM diet.
What I Love About the Trim Healthy Mama Lifestyle
Aside from the fact that it helped me to lost 60 pounds postpartum? Yeah, that kind of takes the cake but here are a couple of other things.
- Back on plan in 3 Rule – If you go off plan for whatever reason, the “rule” is to hop back on plan in 3 hours. Starting back at your next meal is something I never did before eating this way. If I ate something “bad” or off plan, I would start saying ok, I’m going to start back on Monday (even if it was only Wednesday).
- No Counting/Measuring – I hate counting calories and measuring out 12 chips to put on a plate. I’ve never counted macros but I’m betting that I would hate that too. Not having to do that makes my life a lot easier.
- Portions That Work For You – There is no such thing as a one size fits all and I’m glad that this way of eating doesn’t make that assumption. The amount that I eat may be way too much for some or way too little for others but if it works for me that is what matters.
Weight Gain & Stalls on THM
If you are eating on plan and rotating your fuels properly, you should not gain weight. Quite the opposite. You should be losing weight if you are rotating E meals, S meals and FP meals.
However, there can be a learning curve to the plan. For example, my husband dropped a ton of weight last summer by eating mostly S meals & 1-3 E meals a week.
But lots or women that are in menopause or post menopause find that eating more E meals and lighter S meals help them to achieve optimal weight loss.
I’m in my mid-30’s, a female and moderately active. I find that I can do primarily S meals (even some heavy S meals with plenty of cheese or dairy) and then about 5 E meals a week and lose weight at a moderate pace.
So if you are gaining weight on THM, I would first try to rotate your fuels a bit and see if you can find that sweet spot. I also wrote a post on things to do if your weight loss stalls on Trim Healthy Mama. Try some of those tips out if you are struggling.
And of course if you want to gain weight using THM, you can eat more Crossover meals which would mean eating meals high in fat and higher in carbs in one setting. Crossover (XO) meals can also be good for pregnant or nursing mamas.
But don’t be afraid of those XO meals even if you are trying to lose weight. I love a XO now and then and find that sometimes I lose even while eating those.
Trim Healthy Mama & Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure & High Cholesterol
First, let’s start with the good stuff. While I am a “nursing school drop out” as my mom likes to say (in the most loving way of course), I am not a medical professional. This is just my personal experience but please, please speak to your doctor before starting a program.
My husband was diagnosed the summer of 2020 with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and his previously diagnosed hypertension was through the roof.
Since THM focuses on keeping blood sugar levels stable, it seemed like the perfect route for us to try and reverse diabetes and insulin resistance.
It worked for us! He lost 40 lbs, decreased his insulin medication, decreased his BP meds and avoided having to start cholesterol meds. You can read the entire post here – his before and after pic is worth it!
Want more resources to help you on your THM Journey?
- THM A to Z – A complete guide to all things Trim Healthy Mama
- Ultimate THM Grocery List
- THM Food Analyzer App – This free resource is great for figuring out what fuel a jicama or a black cherry is! Just type in the food & bam, the fuel will be listed.
- Family Friendly THM Dinner Recipes
- Free Trim Healthy Mama Meal Plan Template