Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Evaluate New Nutritional Philosophies Through a Critical Thinking, Traditional Foods Lens

June 27th, 2013 · 121 Comments · Food for Thought, Special Situations

Walking into the “diet/nutrition” section of a bookstore is overwhelming, the sheer quantity and variety of books absolutely staggering.

I wandered into that section in a bookstore last week and started scanning titles. Almost immediately I began thinking about how many different diets one could embark on and how crazy it was that there were six full shelves of books JUST on diet and nutrition:

Diet and Nutrition Books in Bookstore (5) (475x356)

Not to mention the entire bookcase, three columns wide, behind me that addressed ill health: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, as well as allergy-free cooking and coping.

Diet and Nutrition Books in Bookstore (6) (475x356)

Then I turned the corner and found 15 more shelves of diet books.

Diet and Nutrition Books in Bookstore (9) (475x356)

Everything from Paleo to vegetarian, from “eat more,” to “eat less;” eat the right fat, eat no fat; low sodium, low fat, low calorie, low everything else; eat to get smart, eat to avoid cancer, eat to feel great, eat to look sexy; avoid aging, avoid disease, avoid dieting; listen to your body; break your body’s habits, train your body, control your body; listen to the fireman, listen to the doctor, listen to the chef, listen to the medical association, listen to the fat guy, listen to the first lady, listen to the pop magazine; cut carbs, cut sugar, cut exercise; balance your hormones, balance your pH, balance your metabolism; diet like the Mediterranean, like the French, like the cavemen, like the Aztecs, or even like the Dukan, whoever they are; do a cleanse, get happy, get thin, get a flat belly; get a miracle, do it fast, do it for life.

Wow.

How anyone ever decides what to eat is baffling!

How to Evaluate a Nutritional Philosophy or Diet Plan

Whether you’re in a bookstore, reading the news, watching television or just browsing online, you are presented with a myriad of suggestions, some more forceful than others, about what you should eat to be healthy, to be thin, to be nourished. How does one evaluate the validity of all these claims?

Since many are at opposing ends of the same subject – Paleo vs. plant-based diets, for example, or pH balancing vs. the Weston A. Price Foundation’s perspective – they can’t all be right. At least not right for everyone. And some of them – I’m hoping more likely the “Get flat abs in 9 days!” and the “Miracle diet to get you sexy NOW!” type stuff – simply have to be wrong, dead wrong.

Today’s post was originally intended to be part of “common sense week,” but I don’t always quite have enough common sense about time to realize what is possible to squeeze in 24 hours. ;) Luckily, common sense should never go out of fashion.

A New Diet? A New Fad? Or a Lifestyle Recommendation?

Perhaps you’ve noticed the buzz about the new-ish book, Trim Healthy Mama. I feel like it’s suddenly everywhere (except in that bookstore, where I had hoped to browse it for myself).

I am going to lead off by saying that I have NOT read the book at all, only others’ Trim Healthy Mama reviews and explanations. Please don’t read this post as a description of the book, a review of the diet (lifestyle), or even a knowledgeable critique of Trim Healthy Mama.

I’m going to attempt to share with you my thinking as I evaluate a new idea in nutrition and health, using Trim Healthy Mama – which I haven’t read, did I mention that? – as an example of steps to take before you read 500 pages of text or spend $35 to explore an idea.

Step One: Get an Overview

This may seem obvious, but you can’t evaluate something if you can’t at least understand it, more or less. If a diet or nutrition book you’re looking at won’t let any of its main ideas out of the covers, it often feels too secretive to me to be worthwhile.


In the case of Trim Healthy Mama, I did some reading and talking with friends who were trying the program.

My incredibly rudimentary knowledge of the THM program is as follows:

  • Don’t mix carbs and fat – especially if you’re still working on losing some weight instead of maintaining.
  • An “on plan” meal that is “carb” based – called an “E” meal for “Energizing” – can only have up to a teaspoon of fat.
  • An “on plan” meal that has fat – called an “S” meal for “Satisfying” – has to have less than 10g of carbs. It looks a bit more like a Paleo meal of meat and veggies.
  • “Fuel Pull” (FP) meals, often snacks, are neither high in fat or carbs, and are good for weight loss. Think fresh fruit, veggies with no dip, low-fat dairy or meat.
  • Once you’re not doing weight loss anymore, you can have 20% of your meals as “Crossovers” mixing fat and carbs.
  • You can get a really good idea of how you’d eat on the plan by perusing the Pins on the THM page.

Some points about the plan that people love:

  • No foods are truly “off limits” because if you can’t have them in one kind of meal, you can just have them in the next.
  • You don’t have to restrict amounts of food.
  • It’s really, really working for a lot of people.

In order to avoid mixing carbs and fat, the authors recommend using a few less common ingredients:

  • gluccomannan powder
  • peanut flour
  • stevia – white powder extract
  • Dreamfield’s pasta
  • protein powder

And finally, even though the plan itself says that foods aren’t really off limits, it sounds like if you want to lose weight, the following are not “on plan:”

  • grapes
  • milk
  • white potatoes
  • white flour
  • white rice
  • sugars
  • large amounts of corn

The plan also is lauded for not having to make special meals for those not on the plan, like your children…except that kids can and should have maple syrup and honey, according to the book, as well as more combination meals and snacks than adults. So it doesn’t really end up working out with everyone eating the same stuff all the time.

Note: See the comments for examples from people using THM demonstrating how they easily accomplish the “differences” between children’s and adults’ nutritional needs.

Step Two: Ask Lots of Questions

farm fields tractor smaller

I feel very comfortable with a traditional foods philosophy. It resonates well with me that we should be eating foods that are grown the way God designed them to grow, are prepared in ways that don’t chemically alter the food into a lab experiment, and in amounts that make sense.

I like to eat foods that have been eaten by humans for hundreds of years or more, and I stay away from recent inventions (in the food world, that is). I try to consider how humans would have grown/harvested/prepared food before things like electricity came along.

I don’t always do everything exactly traditionally. For example, I’ll still smash the heck out of frozen bananas to make faux “ice cream” with my Blendtec, which is clearly not a traditional preparation, but I will consider that at least bananas are a whole food.  It’s a balancing act.

Some questions I would ask when flipping through a new diet/nutrition book include:

  • Is there anything that feels intuitively wrong or “off” to me?
  • Would people have been able to do this long ago?
  • Does the theory include processed foods?
  • Would the plan be sustainable for you?
  • Does the theory demand (or tempt you to use) the same food all the time? (since I wonder about How Much is Too Much? sometimes)
  • Is there a hidden component that may cause success in spite of the main point?

Step Three: Get Some Answers

It deserves to be said again that I have not read the 600-page Trim Healthy Mama book, but I’ll demonstrate for you some of my initial thinking about it.

I started looking into the philosophy after people asked me about it or praised it at least three times in one week. It definitely caught my interest and begged some attention.

When you’re evaluating a nutritional philosophy, read everything you can. Read reviews on Amazon if it’s a book, read bloggers who follow this plan, read any applicable studies if there are any.

Once you understand the basics, you can ask questions about certain ingredients or methods and Swagbucks search your way to some information. I’ve spent far too long looking into the THM plan (hours and hours, ugh), but it kind of fascinates me, and I am uber-thorough whenever I start looking into something.

Here are some of the issues I evaluated:

It Feels Off: Stevia

Many people start with question number one and pause at the use of white stevia powder, which is kind of the only way to have a semi-sweet “treat” on plan which includes any fat, since you can’t mix fat and carbs. Stevia is in a lot of the Trim Healthy Mama recipes and is definitely recommended.

Some traditional foods folks don’t like the idea of stevia at all. They think it’s not real food, and some have heard that it causes infertility. But consider: South American cultures have used it for over a thousand years, and they’re still procreating…also, Nourishing Traditions says green peas will prevent pregnancies, but I never withhold those from my kids.

I think stevia is fine to use, BUT the liquid is clearly less processed than the white powder. I’d put well-made liquid stevia, and definitely the green leaf stevia, firmly in the “real food” category. I could make it at home, and it’s been used for centuries or more in other countries.

However, white powder stevia, although my husband uses it daily in his yogurt, is a stretch on the real food scale. A big one. It has to be made in a lab, and I don’t think there are a lot of long-term studies done on consistent, daily use of powdered stevia. I’ll let my kids have some liquid stevia at times – I don’t treat it like artificial sweeteners, which are poison – but I wouldn’t serve it to them every day. I have no particular reason for that, just a hesitancy.

I’m disappointed that the Trim Healthy Mama plan recommends white powder stevia, and even more disappointed that they include Truvia anywhere near the “okay” list, since Truvia, a brand associated with PepsiCo or CocaCola (I don’t really care which), is mostly erythritol, corn byproducts, and a little stevia. I think all of this is a deviation from “strict whole foods” which at least one of the authors claims to follow.

The use of stevia and the non-combining foods rule means that even though there supposedly “aren’t any foods you can’t eat,” there are plenty of foods and recipes you have to alter, like when Stacy made the chocomole from Healthy Snacks to Go – that one was easy to make into a Trim Healthy Mama legal recipe, but many of your favorite baking recipes would be out the window.

I don’t throw the book out the window yet…but I pause.

Traditional?

(photo source)

The question, “Would people have been able to do this long ago?” is tough to answer.

They COULD have…stevia is traditional, and anyone can eat meat and veggies without carbs and then carbs without fat…but I don’t know that it’s a very intuitive system, something that people would have stumbled across because they felt better when they did it (like perhaps avoiding eating grains raw, for example, or figuring out how to soak dry beans to make them both edible and digestible).

On the other hand, I have to ask the Devil’s advocate question: Did traditional peoples have any need to lose weight?

Probably not.

Their systems weren’t messed up by an overconsuming culture that has dumbed down our sense of satiety and our relationship with food so much so that most guts in America are probably out of balance and damaged. They had no need for weight loss or healing diets, so in some sense, it’s not a fair question.

Processed foods vs. whole foods

I already mentioned I’m not a huge fan of the stevia, and I’m really not sure about the protein powder they advocate. That said, I understand there’s a lot of research in the book, and I haven’t looked into the protein powder any more, so I can’t pass judgment. My husband likes to make protein drinks with whole foods protein powder and raw milk, too, so no stones thrown here.

However, a number of the foods the authors recommend to make “on plan” meals end up being highly processed. You all know me well enough by now that anytime some name brand food is recommended (required?), especially when that food is “new and improved,” I’m going to be the biggest skeptic in the house.

UPDATE: I’m not trying to throw the whole THM plan under the bus here, although the post has been interpreted that way. I think if you’re going to try THM, you should evaluate some of the parts as I do here. The GREAT part about the plan is that no one has to use any of the pieces I’m taking issue with.

A hard core Weston A. Price member could easily adapt the way they currently eat to follow the THM plan without adjusting their core nutritional principles. That’s awesome. Thanks to some commenters who were very generous with their time and knowledge to help us all understand that the processed foods are definitely NOT required, just an option for those who are not ready for a whole foods transformation.

dreamfields pasta

imageWhen I saw that the authors of THM recommended a special pasta with carbs that don’t digest…imagine me shaking my head and beginning the Swagbucks search for Dreamfields pasta.

Let’s look at the ingredients:

Enriched semolina, [semolina, iron (ferrous sulfate), and B vitamins (niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)], inulin (vegetable fiber), wheat gluten (plant protein), xanthan gum (food fiber), pectin (fruit fiber), potassium chloride.

This is not whole foods. Synthetic vitamins enriching white flour, xanthan gum is debatable on safety, inulin must be the insoluble fiber that somehow magically makes the other carbs pass through, and added gluten…don’t get me started. Not an auspicious start.

Now let’s tackle the manufacturer’s claims that this product is low glycemic, with 31 grams of carbs that can’t be digested.

First, do we really want to be eating things that aren’t digestible…on purpose? Particularly things that are man-made to be indigestible. It seems better to NOT put something through your intestines that will just shoot through. What else might it be doing as it’s not being digested in there? I don’t know the answer, but that question makes me really stop and think.

Second, is it really low glycemic? There are a handful of dissenters in the reviews at Amazon who have taken their own blood sugar and gotten incredibly high numbers after eating Dreamfields or noticed bloating like they have with any other grain. There are others who disagree, so it’s possible that it reacts differently with different people…but like one commenter said, I wouldn’t share this pasta with a diabetic family member.

I saw Dr. Oz do a questionable segment on indigestible carbs, called resistant starch. The idea was that you don’t digest the carbs in certain fancy flours, green bananas, and pasta cooked al dente. Dr. Oz recommended cooking all pasta a few minutes less than the recommended cooking time so that your body didn’t digest it. (And how do we feel about that?)

Guess how Dreamfields pasta must be cooked? Quite al dente, or it turns to mush. Perhaps the low-carbers spending over $3/box would be better served with cheap pasta cooked for 5 minutes.

Finally, what does the research say? The manufacturer’s studies and claims don’t hold up well against this online doctor’s independent testing (fascinating blood sugar charts at that post), the product is questioned pretty seriously by a popular low carb dieting site, and in a genuine scientific study on Dreamfields, the results were abysmal and the glycemic index was high.

Although that study hasn’t been reproduced and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, it calls into question the marketing claims of this “new” food product. With that many questions, it’s not something I’d rely on for my good health and nothing I’d bother giving my kids.

One last note: (Remember that I haven’t read the book) A review on Amazon also picked on the use of this pasta, and some commenters there corrected the reviewer, saying that Dreamfields was just an extra option for those not willing to make their own noodles. The original commenter came back with this:

Dreamfields pasta is mentioned 21 times in this book as a pasta alternative. Your other options are konjac root noodles, yam noodles, or spaghetti squash “noodles” (or other veggie “noodles”).

I love spaghetti squash, but it’s expensive most times of year. We only eat it in the fall. I have no idea what some of those others are, but I suppose if they’re vegetables, I can’t take issue with them…right?

low fat dairy

milk jar (3)

For “Fuel Pull” and also “E” meals, low fat dairy is a must (and drinking plain milk is out). This doesn’t resonate all that well with me either, since fat doesn’t make you fat, and I happen to buy into the whole fat dairy theory (see creamline, above).

In defense of the THM use of low-fat and fat-free dairy, people will say that it’s still a whole food: you can skim the cream off your milk, drink the skim milk in one meal and use the cream at a different meal, and it’s totally natural and traditional.

Which is true…if you’re a pig.

Traditionally, when farm families would skim the cream to sell or to make butter or ice cream, the skim milk would go to the pigs. Milk fed pigs, once fattened up, are delicious.

You’re all catching the irony, right?

So I don’t think using some fat free dairy is evil. I don’t think it’s anti-whole foods. But I do think it’s not traditional, and it’s just one more tick mark on the “maybe not for me” list about Trim Healthy Mama.

Silk brand almond milk

I just peeked at the THM Facebook page to see what the buzz was there, and I noticed that one of the authors uses and recommends Silk brand unsweetened almond milk.

Traditional food? Eh. You can make it at home, which is fine, but it still seems to start leaning toward the “too many nuts” issue that I find with the way some people eat Paleo.

The ingredients are a bit cleaner than I expected, but still not ideal:

Almond milk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Natural Flavor.

VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.

Synthetic vitamins and minerals? Eh. Gums and lecithin? Eh. I would miss my raw milk far too much…

Sustainable?

Every time I’ve described this plan briefly to a friend, their eyes get wide and they say, “That doesn’t sound like something I could keep up.” On the other hand, Stacy says it’s an absolute lifestyle and something she and her husband will be able to sustain forever.

Perhaps it’s easier once you’re used to it…the sustainability question is something each person needs to answer for themselves, but I will say this about Trim Healthy Mama: from what I understand, they offer a lot of grace on the “oops” days and the compromises, which I think goes miles toward keeping people trying instead of throwing in the towel.

messy yogurt baby

The plan also calls for different foods for kids. For example, kids can eat legumes, wheat, milk, and honey, but those on the weight-loss plan, at least as far as I understand, cannot. It sounds like the authors do buy foods that are only for their children, which quite frankly, would drive me nuts.

We eat as a family, and I don’t make separate meals for my kids, so to add that to my daily routine just doesn’t sound palatable.

I also take issue with wheat being more for children than adults. I understand that THM is largely about glycemic index, and that wheat can really mess people up on that scale. But there are a lot of arguments against wheat because of its hybridization, and I would say on that front that it’s even more dangerous for kids and their less-developed digestive systems. We kept wheat out of our youngest’s diet for 18 months, and at 22 months currently, he’s only had wheat a handful of times, always whole wheat and soaked. So many questions about that issue…

On the other hand, I do respect that the authors are taking care with children and viewing them differently. I’d hate to see parents on a “diet” (this is not supposed to be) who harm their kiddos by making them eat “diet food” that isn’t what their little bodies need. (Fat free milk, anyone?)

And on the third hand, because that’s how I’m feeling today, if Trim Healthy Mama isn’t a diet plan, why do kids have to eat differently? Perhaps it comes back to “did traditional people diet?” Is all our dieting, and the fact that perhaps we are supposed to eat things as kids and not adults, a result of our fallen world, carb-heavy society, and general bad food choices?

Comparing THM with the Paleo diet/lifestyle, I am sure there are plenty who would say that eating Paleo is not safe for children. I have a hunch the THM authors would be among them since they say kids need carbs for energy.

When Paleo eaters use a lot of almond or coconut flour to mimic baked goods, are they really eating as people did so long ago? Or is something like a Whole 30, where you’re not allowed to bake anything, no substitutes for the old unhealthy standbys, more realistically “Paleo?”

These are the questions I like to ask as I evaluate any system of eating or diet plan.

What Really Works?

What’s most astonishing about the Trim Healthy Mama plan is how quickly it has caught on and how many fervent proponents there are, people who are finding incredible success and really feel as if they’ll be able to sustain their weight loss.

In fact, many of them are probably already typing frustrated comments without getting this far down. I hope I haven’t judged too quickly – again, I’ll remind you, I haven’t read the book or tried the plan.

I have to ask one last question, though: Is it “The Plan” that really works for weight loss, or something else?

For example:

  • Switching to a whole foods diet in general can have incredible impacts, and in order to eat “on plan” one really does need to eat a lot of whole foods, vegetables, and healthy, “clean” eating. If this is a new lifestyle for someone, that alone could cause weight loss, regardless of carb/fat balancing.
  • Since many meals must be low carb, I’m guess that for most people, their diets overall are lower in carbs, therefore grains, than usual. Again, that alone can make a huge impact on weight and general health.
  • With the combining rules, most people’s favorite baking recipes, as I mentioned above when I talked stevia, are out the window. If folks are eating fewer baked goods and sweets since it’s a lot of work to adjust old recipes or try new recipes, then they’re consuming fewer empty calories.

coconut palm sugar (8) (475x356)

  • No sweeteners? How many Americans, while dieting, have honestly cut all sweeteners? The first question I would ask someone who has a huge success with THM is, “Have you ever cut all sugars out of your diet before?”
  • Although the plan says it doesn’t cut a lot of things, cutting all sugars and all white flour already is a huge step and would drastically change many Standard American Diets. Additionally cutting white potatoes and corn chops out a ton of normally eaten carbs and starches. That’s huge. I know some people have already tried Paleo or grain-free and it didn’t work for them, while THM did, but for many, cutting all that junk would be plenty of changes, both for feeling overwhelmed and for losing the weight effectively.

When you’re evaluating any new way of eating, ask yourself: How many parts of this are different from how I eat now? What is different for the people who are having success, and is it the new plan in its totality that is working for them, or is it one certain part of the plan – perhaps not its central tenet?

On Successes and Fads

At some level, one can’t argue with success. It’s incredible to read of the many people the Trim Healthy Mama plan has helped, whether in Amazon reviews, on blogs, and on the THM website or Facebook page.

On the other hand, I’m curious to see where this goes.

All sorts of diets have success stories (calm down, Stacy, I know THM isn’t a diet, but I have to use words everyone knows). I really respect that the authors did a ton of research, and who knows? Maybe they’re 100% right on the food combining front, and they should just stop allowing processed foods on their plan. Then again, maybe they’d lose half their customers if they didn’t.

If it’s a fad, it’ll peter out. People won’t be able to sustain it.

The authors themselves are bold enough to put the word “fad” right on the cover, claiming their plan is NOT a fad. Only time will tell, since by definition, a fad has to go in and out of style, right? Winking smile

How to Evaluate a Nutritional Philosophy

Since “diet” is such an ugly word for many people, let’s call our topic “nutritional philosophy,” shall we?

Since this post is not supposed to be all about Trim Healthy Mama, but rather an example of how you can evaluate whatever nutritional philosophy you come across, let’s review the basic steps:

    1. Get a rudimentary understanding of the plan/philosophy. Read about it wherever you can (as long as you find some sources not affiliated with those who stand to make a profit).
    2. Ask lots of thoughtful questions:
      • Is there anything that feels intuitively wrong or “off” to me?
      • Would people have been able to do this long ago?
      • Does the theory include processed foods?
      • Would the plan be sustainable for you?
      • Does the theory demand (or tempt you to use) the same food all the time?
      • Is there a hidden component that may cause success in spite of the main point?
      • What is the background?

  1. Read Amazon reviews, and be sure to get into any comments on people’s reviews – that’s where conversation can really get going. Also, don’t believe the most laudatory or the most derogatory. Some people are just mean-spirited, and some are just wrong. (And authors can’t do much about those…I should know, since The Family Camping Handbook kind of got a meanie 1-star review. Some commenters did a nice job of setting the record straight, but I don’t know how many people click through to those.)
  2. Consider yourself. What do you think you would be able to sustain? Does it feel like a good fit for you? If you can try out the plan for a time, see how it feels, physically, emotionally, socially.

I remain pretty fascinated by the whole Trim Healthy Mama plan, and I probably should read the book at some point. For now, I just need to figure out what’s for breakfast tomorrow…and dinner…and lunch. You gotta eat!

What “lens” do you like to use to view various nutritional philosophies? How do you decide what’s right for you?

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121 Comments so far ↓

  • Samantha

    I found this very interesting and you did raise some good questions. I have been doing THM since Feb and I love it. If I could recommend anything; please read the book! You keep stressin that you haven’t read the book but also are telling us that it’s important to look at everything all different angles and ask questions.
    I think some of your concerns are very valid but one thing you will notice, from reading the book, is that is caters for food purist (like yourself) to the typical SAD family. While some of the ingredients might not sit well with you, for the take-away mum who is overweight and hates cooking, THM helps everyone make food choices that are right for them. I am more of a purist, so I pick and chose what I follow and use. But the principles of THM are what ring true to me and my husband. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Exactly!! It’s about the basic core idea – and you can make that idea work if you want to eat convenience foods or if you want to culture your own dairy. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Helen

    What a timely post for me! Struggling this time around with the baby weight, and a good friend (reader of your blog as well) swears by THM but she is also a local/whole foods person. She has eight kids and had to figure out how to stop losing weight since THM was working so well for her! I am intrigued and want to read it, so I am hoping that my library will purchase it as I certainly can’t spend that amount right now. I doubt I could follow this long term and like you, I don’t want to have to make separate meals for myself.

    I actually currently have the amazon reviews up and have been working through them today. I generally take amazon reviews with a grain of salt. I do think it is odd to ‘have’ to buy special products, but they are godly women, as is my friend. So I sort of want to believe in the plan and am trying to reserve judgment until I can read the book. But I also checked out the FB page as part of my research, and seeing people talk about defatted peanut butter powder, something I did use back in my dieting days, and other processed products, I became concerned. I think I just need to watch my total calorie intake. And who knows, maybe I won’t lose this weight until the baby is weaned anyway!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Helen

    And i forgot to say I am loving the fitness plan on the fit2be site, and a lot of people seem to follow the fitness there and it goes hand in hand with THM, which was another ‘plus’ for me. Have to weigh my personal pros and cons.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Terri

    Very well written post. You explained your points for evaluating a diet (for lack of a better word), then gave an example of using that system to evaluate a diet, then restated your points. It reminds me of something I wrote once, years ago, about how to evaluate options in child birth. I wasn’t trying to tell anyone what to choose, only giving some principles for HOW to choose. I loved this post.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Emily

    Really well written! I have read the book and been following the plan (not too strictly, since I’m nursing and they allow for more Crossovers and S helpers during this season) for a few months now. I really, really appreciated the balanced view this book took and how it could appeal to the more food purist types (me) and also to the “Drive-Thru Sue” types. I think that where a lot of people would look at Nourishing Traditions or even Kitchen Stewardship :) and throw up their hands in despair at the overwhelming amount of work that can be involved in eating like this, THM is more accessible for the everyday gal. Personally, I am more of the purist type, so I skip on the Truvia and Dreamfields and just follow the main principles (fuel separation). THM did help convince me to dump the honey and maple syrup for the most part for now, and I am feeling better. I do use stevia, but I always have. I’m OK with that ingredient. I don’t really cook separate meals for my kids, just add butter to their oatmeal and leave it off mine, or I will skip the potatoes at supper, or they get cheese on their salad and I pass (but only for that meal, I get cheese later). I love that it doesn’t involve giving up any entire food group, it seems very balanced that way. Also that they have microwave recipes – now I don’t even OWN a microwave, but again this can really help make the whole thing seem a lot more accessible to certain types of people. I would recommend the book to a lot of people that I wouldn’t even bother mentioning Nourishing Traditions to.
    To top it off, I have really loved a lot of the ideas and recipes. You should definitely get yourself a copy and peruse it more thoroughly (though I think a lot of your concerns are totally valid). No online summary or review can really describe a 600 page long, well researched book :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Emily,
    I do hear the recipes are great! You’re so right- 600 pages can’t be mushed into a quick review or blog post. I like the balance you describe…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I love your comment. :-) <3

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Dawn

    Thanks Katie! I heard about the book from Stacy, and wondered how long before you looked into it… :) I will agree with previous commenters, the authors are on different parts of the food journey or spectrum, and give suggestions that are more and less “real food”, but like you, are very understanding about all of our different places on the food journey. That said, there is enough of a bow toward real food (not at all common in “diet” books) that the real foodie can definitely find ways to make it work. There were a few things that bothered me, the stevia, the pasta, etc., but you nailed them, and I just take the more real food approach. I’ve found a powdered stevia that is as close to natural as I can get, but I primarily rely upon the liquid. I just skip the pasta, we relied too much on pasta before we had to go gluten free, and since then pasta is just a rare indulgence, and I’m happy to make it for my family and skip that particular part of the meal (last time I made chicken, eggplant parmesan, and pasta, so I just skipped the pasta and was plenty full).
    You have been my primary source, though I’ve gleaned info from lots of blogs, on my real food journey, and honestly I think this plan fits well with your approach to real food. You look to be a nice healthy body type, but my own has about 40 extra lbs, most of that coming on after I had kids, and this, which is almost more of a meal planning structure, has been perfect. The only real change I’ve made to my real food kitchen (which is already gluten free) was to switch my own milk from a small local dairy to 1% from whole, and move to stevia instead of honey, sucanat, etc. in most things (oh, and I have always drank smoothies for breakfast, so I added the gluccomman to those, but not protein powder, I use gelatin instead, and I stick to my new 1% milk on those, though I do already use almond milk for cooking since my family is dairy allergic). The rest is really just meal planning for me. The kids sometimes get smaller portions of the main dish, and then get an extra side for themselves, but I’ve never made a separate meal and am quite sure I never will! :) And I don’t often use their recipes, being real food saavy makes it easy to modify my own recipes to E or S (or FP).
    And the few off-plan items? Well, I’ve found myself using your terminology… If they are real foods, then they are compromise foods, “cheats” according to the plan, and not to be overdone, but if they really aren’t real food in the first place then I have just turfed them for the time being.
    So, with all my real food insistences, am I FLYING toward my goal weight? Nah. But I am making far more steady and reliable progress than with anything else I’ve tried, 1-2 lbs. per week, and I don’t feel like I’m on a diet nearly as much as the whole need to eliminate gluten did, and that was more for health than weight (and while I enjoyed the Wheat Belly book, I didn’t really lose any weight when we went gluten free, so I’m glad that wasn’t the main reason we did it!).
    Thanks for all you do, and I do encourage you to read the book. Once you have, I think you will find the meal planning philosophy quite manageable, and the philosophy very common sense and real food friendly.

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  • MaryEllen@ImperfectHomemaker

    I’ve never dieted (haven’t needed to), but I have seen so many people go on their different diets, plans, whatever, that I’m wondering if there is any need for such a thing. It all seems too complicated to me. (Maybe I would change my mind if I were overweight.) I’d so much rather just eat whole foods, lay low on sugar but enjoy a little every once in a while, and try to eat a good balance of protein, fats, and carbs without overthinking it and stressing about every single thing that passes our lips. I will say that I had hidden food sensitivities that have made me feel more energized and I even dropped a few pounds once I eliminated those. My curiousity has definitely been piqued by all the THM buzz, and I’ve wondered what the deal was. But I’m not the type who likes to be restricted like that, so I haven’t looked into it any further. Again, it all just seems too complicated for my liking. It’s hard enough to get food into my family’s bellies without worrying about whether I put the right things together. I’d rather just let my philosophy be simply “eat healthy food”.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carrie Reply:

    Exactly how I feel. I just can’t see our ancestors worrying about food combining.

    And the low carb thing? I thought we had disproven that already! I can think of several ancient cultures who thrived on a mostly grain-based diet. (Whether it was some Africans with sweet potatoes or the Aztec with their corn… what about Asians and rice?)

    I applaud these people for making positive changes and losing weight.. but as was mentioned above, it’s probably the cutting sugar that’s mostly responsible. And having meal plans and eating mindfully (and more real ingredients instead of packaged junk) will cause weight loss.

    I go back to the philosophy of the French. French people eat bread, wine, chocolate, they don’t eschew carbs… and they live longer than we do, and they’re thinner. A French woman would not deny herself entire food groups.

    I think in all this weight loss discussion we forget a fundamental thing: that our modern American culture is sedentary and lazy. We have huge TVs that take up an entire wall, we drive everywhere. We sit and passively entertain ourselves with screens. We do “exercise” occasionally instead of moving all day long like our Great-Grandmothers did. (She didn’t worry about batwings under her arms when she had to beat a cake by hand!) We have Roombas and all sorts of fancy equipment so we don’t even have to work hard to keep our homes clean. We hire people to cut our grass instead of pushing the mower ourselves. It’s our lifestyle, all day long every day that’s making us have problems with weight.

    I can’t see Caroline Ingalls worrying about her weight. All food was good if she could get her hands on it. :-)

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    Audrey Reply:

    Amen!

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    Julieanne Reply:

    It’s interesting that the two meals Jesus provided in the Bible fit the THM plan: one is an E meal (fish and bread), and the other is an S meal. :)

    THM isn’t a low-carb lifestyle eating plan. It’s just that people who eat the THM way carefully select the types of carbs they eat, and don’t combine them in the same meal with a lot of fats.

    As far as the wheat goes, there are hardly any products/recipes that call for wheat. The only two I can think of from the book are Dreamfields pasta (which is not recommended for purists, only the mamas who still want pasta that will work for them), and Joseph’s brand low-carb tortillas, lavash, and pita breads, which are a combination of flax, wheat, and maybe barley? I can’t remember what the package said. And even with those products recommended for people who aren’t purists, they recommend having the pasta only once a week or a couple of times a month, and not to overdo having the Joseph’s products.

    The Asians and rice is really not a good comparison for healthy eating. The diabetes rate in China is soaring because so many people are now able to afford to buy/eat a lot more white rice.

    THM doesn’t deny any food groups. Wine is allowed, preferably dry wine, if I’m remembering correctly.

    Sweet potatoes are allowed; I will have a baked sweet potato for lunch about once a week. Yum! But then I only put 1 tsp. of butter on it, and don’t add any other fats to that particular meal.

    THM’ers can definitely eat bread, wine, and chocolate. We actually eat a lot of it! :) Chocolate, that is! :) But it’s certain ways of fixing the chocolate and the bread (true sourdough or Gwen’s Nest refrigerator sourdough bread).

    THM agrees that all God-given food is good! :) THM agrees with Caroline Ingalls! Where THM makes changes in the eating plan is when people are overweight. Honey, molasses, sucanat, etc. are great sweeteners, unless people are overweight. So THM encourages those kinds of things for people, as long as they aren’t overweight or having issues with diabetes or blood sugar problems.

    Our entire family has been doing THM for six months now, and we love it now more than we ever did before! We’ve lost a combined weight of almost 70 lbs., and we feel so much better. My husband no longer snores (he snored loudly all night long even when he was thinner); my hair is growing back thicker and softer than ever; the bumps/pimples on the backs of my upper arms have disappeared. My daughter’s excema has disappeared; my other daughter didn’t struggle at all with the mild winter depression that she has had ever since age 8.

    Our family was eating a real foods/whole foods diet for about 4 years before we began THM. But even homemade sweet goodies, even those sweetened with evap. cane juice sugar or honey or molasses or ??? still cause people to gain weight. We drank raw milk for a year; still gained weight. We limited our calorie intake but still ate whole foods; still gained weight.

    THM has really done well with our entire family. One daughter had no need to lose weight; she eats the same meals as us but adds in cheeses, real maple syrup, other normal things that she used to eat “before.” I definitely don’t have the time to cook two separate meals!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I love you, Julieanne. :-)

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    Julieanne Reply:

    Love you, too, Stacy, and I do hope that my multiple comments here on this blog post aren’t designed to be negative at all, just addressing some of the concerns people have who haven’t yet read the book. I really do recommend the book and becoming a member of their THM Facebook page. Just reading through comments and questions on their THM Facebook page will quickly show many how this program works well with so many different types of mamas, no matter how they are used to preparing foods. :)

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    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I totally understood what you were trying to say. All your comments are spot on and 100% fully accurate. :-) Thanks for chiming in with such grace and patience!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julieanne,
    I tell you what, it is so awesome to read about all the amazing changes in your family because of this plan! Seriously, I’m glad you’re commenting and I don’t mind the frequency at all. Love the part about Jesus’s meals (what was the second one? I know the Bible decently well, but…there’s a lot of fish and bread).

    Still reading, still learning for me…

    Thanks!
    :) Katie

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    'Becca Reply:

    I’d like to know what meal you’re thinking of, too, because the one that comes to my mind mentions only bread and wine (E) but that was at the end of a Passover meal which probably included some kind of meat and some kind of fruit or veg, but the Bible doesn’t say what they ate.

    Fish has fat. Good, healthy fat. A full portion of most fish, prepared in a way that doesn’t purposely drain off the fat, would contain more than a teaspoon of fat. So I’d say fish+bread would be a “combination” meal.

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  • Angie via Facebook

    No picking here…but since I am a THM and it has helped me tremendously while still eating the same whole and traditional foods I always have…I don’t believe you have a completely accurate picture of the “plan.” I love when you ask questions and make your readers think. This time, I’m a bit disappointed in the seeming lack of thoroughness of looking in to the plan. I think your review could prevent some people from looking in to the plan at all since it feels like a pretty negative review. Just my two cents. :)

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    Dawn Reply:

    I have to agree. Having read the book, I was disappointed that you hadn’t read it before giving negative reviews of parts of it. You clearly didn’t have a good understanding of some aspects. I sort of wish you’d chosen something you HAD read to use as your example review, you know? Having read the comments below, I feel like your review gives folks the wrong impression to many folks.
    This is a meal planning structure, combining protein with carbs OR fats, the reasoning for which is explained very well (as a PhD in Biology I say that), there is very little that is “off plan”, and no strange ingredients required to make it work (though the authors suggest a few favorite items that they find useful, and they don’t even agree with each other about some of those). This is the closest “weight loss plan” or “diet” that I’ve ever seen to the real food philosophy. If weight loss is not your goal any longer, you simply eat “crossover” meals which is a regular meal to a real foodie, but if you are still hoping to lose, you minimize the interactions between fat and carbs within 3 hours of each other, due to the way our bodies use them. They have lots of recipe, most of which are useful as guides as to how the authors do the program. That said, I’ve simply paid more attention to the carbs and fats in my own recipes and modified them accordingly. And I’ve never cooked a separate meal for my family, I just may skip one of the sides I’ve prepared for them, or save my portion for later. There is nothing low carb about this plan, though one might eat a low carb meal for dinner.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Dawn,
    Thanks for your feedback – I’m still glad to help folks who are about to try THM sift through what parts they want to try and what parts they don’t.

    It’s awesome to hear all the “real food” aspects of it.
    :) Katie

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  • Beth via Facebook

    I like your post. You must have trained me well in the past year because (even though I have plenty of weight left to lose) as soon as I heard a little bit about Trim Healthy Mama, I heard about the lowfat milk and said, “I’m out. Not worth it.”

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    THM doesn’t ever say to drink lowfat milk. For those who are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or have weight to lose, they encourage those people to not drink milk, period. It’s liquid carbs, gals, so even if it’s healthy, it’s messing with people’s blood sugar levels. :) There are some recipes that use lower fat yogurt or cottage cheese, but people are free to use the higher fat versions if they choose. THM offers a ton of flexibility, which is one of the main things I love about it!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Sustainable and maintainable for ANY and EVERY food mindset. :-)

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  • Jamie via Facebook

    I’ll have to take a look, sounds interesting.

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  • Kerrie via Facebook

    I feel the same exact way you do. I have the book but am not sold on it yet. We raise chickens so it seems completely unnatural to separate the egg yolks and whites and they do loose me on the powders and pastas, low carb breads. I have lost weight on Barry Sears plan “the zone”. No funny business there. Just balanced fats, protein and carbs. All can be done with real foods. Recently they have come up with things like low carb bagels, etc to make it more appealing to others which I don’t like, but his original plan is great, balanced!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    There are plenty of recipes that include the whole egg, without separating it. But for recipes that are E meals, that combine healthy carbs without a lot of fat (like Trim Healthy Pancakes, for example), it’s important to use egg whites in that. We still buy the same amount of farm fresh eggs as we did before THM. We just also make sure to have enough eggs for the egg whites for our yummy pancakes, too! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I have backyard chickens and follow THM daily. :-) In fact, yesterday we had boiled eggs for breakfast with strawberries. YUM.

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  • Cathy via Facebook

    I guess the one thing that gets to me about all negative comments about THM (not just yours) is that people assume that everyone HAS to use the few questionable items that are recommended. I (and many others) don’t use many of these and am still able to make this work simply by changing when we eat certain items. Things like Dreamfields are suggested as an occasional food only to be consumed no more than once a week. I think you’d really need to read the book and truly see the purist/non-purist banter between Pearl and Serene to appreciate the suggestions in the original context. But overall, I think your review was about as balanced as could be expected from someone who hasn’t read the book….I just expect reviews to come from someone who has, you know?

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  • Regina via Facebook

    Sounds interesting, but more like a fad.

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    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    The front of the book says “No More Fads.” It’s actually a lifestyle change and not a diet. Diets are fads. This is maintainable for life.

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  • Kim via Facebook

    I think you should have definitely read the book before trying to do a review on it. Some of your comments were out of perspective with what the book is saying. I enjoyed the fact that one sister is a “purist” who would never use Dreamfields Pasta, and the other will on occasion, because for her family, that works. Their slightly different views and lifestyles go on throughout the book, giving a very balanced perspective for a great variety of people. I loved the book, and have begun the plan because it just makes sense to me. I am losing weight, but more importantly, I feel better than I have in years. I would recommend it to anyone to read through and consider, but I know one plan may not be for everyone. Reading the book all the way through for yourself just makes sense if you are going to write a review on it.

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  • Amanda

    Thanks Katie! It certainly isn’t a diet plan I would follow. Too many things vary from “tradition.” However, IMO, the reason that people have success on it would be because they are AWARE of what they are eating. When we become conscious and think about it, it’s easier to lose weight.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carrie Reply:

    “because they are AWARE of what they are eating. When we become conscious and think about it, it’s easier to lose weight.”

    Exactly!

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    Julieanne Reply:

    Oh, wow. We ate a whole foods diet, and were really aware of what we ate, but it caused me to become pre-diabetic, even watching what I ate. THM is the first thing I’ve done that has helped me lose weight, and now my lab work is fabulous! My doctor said last week I could quit taking my medication! Woot! I love THM and what it has done for my family.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Whole Grain Jane! :-)

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    Julieanne Reply:

    Exactly, Stacy! :) Even “Whole Grain Janes” can become diabetic. So can raw foodies, juicers, and the like. A constant stream of carbs throughout the day can really do a number on a person’s pancreas, and I’m living proof of that – as well as changing the way I’ve eaten, using THM, has enabled me to stop my meds. After six months, this is still completely sustainable for my family, and we are thrilled with the results!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    What a great testimony, Julieanne! :) Katie

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  • Kristin via Facebook

    Dont eat corn, wheat, or soy. Dont eat processed diet or gluten free foods.
    Carbs do not give you energy. Its a fallacy. The healthiest eating is under 55 on the glycemic index. Fat is not bad for you, neither is cholesterol. Wheat shrinks your ldl particles to the point they get trapped in the body and not flushed out. Read Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis. Its the only book you need.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    They actually refer to that book in their book – and they say that corn should be eaten RARELY, they do NOT recommend soy, and only fermented or sprouted wheat.

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  • Julie

    I’ve read the book and it’s decent but not a plan that I could really see myself keeping up with. The Truvia, low fat dairy, and protein powder recommendations really turned me off.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    Truvia is for the “Drive-Thru Sue” types of mamas. Stevia is the recommended sweetener for purists. Some THM’ers grow and dyhdrate their own stevia.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    None of those ingredients are necessary for the diet to work. I have several friends on the plan who don’t use those and are still doing great! :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    What do your friends use in place of the Stevia or Truvia? I am seriously looking at this and have bought the book, but I am still trying to figure out how I would sweeten. Would you be able to replace the powdered sweetener with liquid stevia?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    You can make your own “truvia” using erythritol and stevia, which is what I do….avoids additives. Or some of the ladies just use stevia – NuNaturals or Now extract are the two with the least amount of processing. And yes, some ladies do just use the liquid. The recipes take a bit of tweaking, but most of the time the amount isn’t exact anyway…”stevia to taste.” :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anne via Facebook

    Kristin, that works for you. On that diet, I would shoot myself before the week was out. On the other hand, I can drop meat out of my diet completely (and have, on occasion) and do just fine and have all sorts of energy. We are all different and some are wheat-intolerant and some are dairy-intolerant and some aren’t. I think her way of evaluating a diet plan is good.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Pearl and Serene actually both come from a vegetarian lifestyle – and they speak on that in the book. :-)

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    'Becca Reply:

    I agree with Anne. I eat wheat nearly every day, mostly whole wheat. I eat a lot of rice, mostly white rice. Not so much corn, but I eat organic non-GMO soy foods like edamame or tofu about once or twice a week. I eat eggs, dairy (mostly full-fat), and fish regularly but hardly ever eat any other meat. I do need protein and fat, but it doesn’t seem to matter whether they come from animal or plant sources. But I cannot cope without carbs. A low-carb meal makes me feel hungry again right away (unless it contained enough fat to make me nauseous) and it’s a bad, scary hunger that makes me angry and desperate.

    I just had my blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides tested. All are great. My weight is normal.

    I think human metabolisms either come in a couple of different varieties genetically or are diversified by early experiences with food. The perfect diet for one person does not work for everyone.

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  • Vixie

    I have enjoyed your posts but I have to say that I am a bit put off that you would review a diet when you haven’t read the book. That just doesn’t seem to be a logical process at all. You had some facts but you also missed many other facts and viewpoints.
    I agree with the premise of your article and I think that the questions that you raised about any diet plan should have been the gist of your article. Those questions and comments about any plan were valid enough to stand alone in the article. Then you could have left your review of the plan at a time when you had actually read the book and some solid knowledge, not just hearsay.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Vixie,
    Thanks for your honesty – I’m seeking the balance between actually forking over the $ and time to read the book and figuring out if that investment is worth it to me…and trying to help others figure out a strategy to do the same. We can’t all read all the way through those myriad books in the top photos…

    I tried to be really fair and hope I at least was balanced in what I did understand…hopefully I’ll learn a lot more in the comments! :) Katie

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    Tina H. Reply:

    Just an fyi – I checked out the book from my local library so you could go that route.

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    Julieanne Reply:

    Katie, I thought your review was quite thorough for someone who hasn’t actually read the book, but I kept thinking, “It’s obvious you spent hours researching this book, and literally, in the same amount of hours, you could have totally read the book and also learned a lot about women’s and men’s hormones, and a ton of other issues that are addressed in the book that you weren’t able to get to in your review. :)

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    Vixie Reply:

    Good point!

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    Bethany Nash Reply:

    I agree. I don’t think your method for evaluating whether or not to buy a “diet” book is bad, but by using a specific book in your post, and then researching the plan without actually going to the source is a disservice to the authors and to your readers.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julieanne,
    Someone else mentioned that on Facebook, and I thought…”Well, shoot. That’s typical for me to try to be “efficient” or “frugal” and end up doing the opposite.” Blah. I really should read the book now and get all the good parts and just skip the parts I don’t like! I don’t think I could personally do it, though, partly because I don’t know that I’d be willing to separate my milk…I do too much already, and with gluten free living, I’m struggling to find enough options to eat as it is.
    Thanks, Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    Most everything in the book is gluten-free, so I don’t think you’d end up changing as much or doing as much as you think you would. I think you would actually be pleasantly surprised! :) And about separating your milk, I’m not sure what you mean by that. Trim Healthy Mama doesn’t actually have us drinking milk, although our skinny kids/husband can do that just fine and get away with it. :) This book has actually opened up tons more eating options for our family. It’s been such a blessing! Oh, and all of the neat recipes that people post on their Facebook page – yum! I can’t wait until Pearl and Serene’s second book comes out! They are currently writing it and working on it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julieanne,
    Since I make my own yogurt from whole milk, I’d have to separate that in order to eat yogurt (I think, right?) at least if I wanted fruit in it, I assume.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    I’m sorry, I’m still not sure what you mean. Do you mean to separate the yogurt and the fruit into two separate meals? Or to make your yogurt with skimmed milk so you could have it with fruit? We eat yogurt with fruit regularly, but I didn’t ever make homemade yogurt. I really enjoy the Greek yogurt, and select a type that has few ingredients in it and is more naturally made. But even homemade yogurt made from whole milk would be fine with sliced strawberries in it, or just a few of other types of berries. Or, you could decide for yourself that this is one of the foods that you’ll just continue to eat the way you’ve always eaten it. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julieanne,
    You’re probably right, that I could still eat full fat yogurt with the berries we regularly use…Our milk is straight from the farm and always whole, but with a creamline – so if I wanted low fat or fat free yogurt for recipes with carbs or whatnot, I’d have to separate my own milk…same with needing low fat milk for recipes. It’s a pain! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I do that…and then make delicious homemade butter with the cream. YUMMY!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Vixie Reply:

    No, Katie, you are right in the fact that we can’t read all of the information in the myriad of books. However, you weren’t reviewing those books, only THM. I really think that you did the authors a disservice by your “review” and that you owe them an apology.
    As far as learning from the comments, I’m sure that you have learned something. However, as I have taught my own children and my students the best way to learn about something is to go straight to the primary source rather than reading what other people have said about it. It’s the scholarly and responsible thing to do.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Emily via Facebook

    The fact you would review a book you have yet to read or even look through is shocking to me. It seems so irresponsible. How can you say with any authority about anything in the book? You have missed so much information because you chose the lazy way to review a book…by reading the blogs of others. You have a responsibility to your readers to give them the very best information you can. This was not it. Shame on you.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tracey via Facebook

    Judging by these comments, it looks like they woke up ;) I’ll read your review after breakfast. :)

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  • Amber

    Katie,
    Nice post! I see your point of view on pretty much everything! I am curious though about the SweetLeaf Stevia Clear Liquid link to amazon- (do you?) why do you personally believe this is a best choice of liquid stevia? I have a hard time with it because it contains “natural flavors” on the ingredient list. What do you think of that? I have a hard time with that “ingredient” because who knows what it really is.
    Thanks!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amber,
    I interviewed the CEO of Sweetleaf and was very impressed by his commitment to quality. I don’t see “natural flavors” on the ingredients list for the clear stevia, just the flavors. ?? I’m pretty sure it’s just pure extract…but then again, a blog colleague who uses stevia regularly mentioned that she feels NuNaturals stevia is sweeter than Sweetleaf, although I’m not positive if she meant drops or powder. Hmmmmmmm…personally I think the Sweetleaf POWDER had the least aftertaste, but my husband disagrees. For the liquid I thought they both tasted the same…but now you got me wondering.
    Great question!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tammy

    This is a great post, Katie!
    I can give you some insight on why they put carbs and fat at different meals, protein has a neutral affect on our bodies. Fat and protein has a relatively neutral effect on our bodies, but fat and carbs combined have a negative effect on our bodies. (I will find the book to give you chapter and page for this.) This is from the “Protein Power Plan” by Drs. Eades, a married couple who discovered that reducing carbohydrates, not entirely restricting them, but reducing them, reversed: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity in patients.
    They took this clinical information and really began researching why this all changed. They found that paleo dieters in history had healthy teeth and bodies. Those like the Egyptians had bad teeth, were obese, and had numerous other health problems.
    For me, I used my experience of low-fat dieting that left me bouncing higher and higher and contrasted it with the science of “The Protein Power Plan” 20 years ago and found that made much more sense.
    It helps to have the whole family on the same diet – foods we eat, versus the connotation of trying to lose weight. With certain allergies, that is not always possible. For example, my older daughter drank soy milk when regular milk upset her stomach. The younger one drank almond milk because I found I was allergic to milk and soy and wanted to help her since milk upset her stomach at the time. They can now both digest milk without allergic reactions.
    My research on whole, skim, pasteurized versus raw milk has led me to the same conclusion, though I tend to buy low-temperature pasteurized milk as it lasts a little longer. As milk was so expensive when we were living on a very low income for an extended time, milk was restricted to those who needed it most and meals. Raw milk now tends to turn before we can get it drunk because of those habits.
    I think the best any of us can do is to eat as naturally as we can to the best of our ability. Pocketbooks sometimes limit how healthy we can eat, but each family must do our best.
    Exercise will help our bodies be lean regardless of which foods we eat, but eating the right foods for our bodies can help us stay healthy on the inside – teeth, bones, immune system, heart, insulin response, endocrine system, etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jasmine N via Facebook

    I do THM. It has helped me. I love your blog and have several of your e-books. I think you just have to find what works for you and go there. My husband would never consider eating THM. I used to have bulimia. The Lord helped me to get past that. This past year since starting THM I feel like I can enjoy foods without worrying about what it will do to my body. It is a much better plan than WW or other things I’ve tried in the past. It does promote healthy eating, and if you pay attention to Pearl and Serene, Serene does not use a lot of the products that you mentioned as “processed”. Those are for mama’s who don’t have the time, or don’t want to take the time to take the purist route. There is a huge learning curve to it, but it is the first time I’ve ever eaten a certian way trying to lose weight and not felt restricted like I’m on a diet. I enjoy the food I eat, and am satisfied.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Jasmine, I understand where you’re coming from. I have a history of under-eating and over-exercising. THM has freed me and lets me enjoy food without worrying. :-)

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  • Tsandi Crew

    I think this article is well thought out and well said. There are some simple diets that are a little old fashioned but work; The Air Force Diet: eat fewer than 60mg of carbs a day, and you will lose weight. Requires a carb counter. But I know it works.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    THM says not to exceed more than 45 carbs for an E meal setting. :-)

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  • Delina

    Whenever I hear someone proposing an eating healthy plan, my first thought is, “follow the money and examine the worldview.” For example, how much are the government recommendations about what’s healthy influenced by agri-business and big pharma?
    Also, people’s worldview influences what they recommend. When someone who is into animal rights and doesn’t believe animals should be killed for food, then they are going to recommend things that are not necessarily healthy for humans.
    So, one of the questions I ask is, how much does a group’s ideology play into its recommendations about what our diets should be? For example, if someone is Buddhist and believes that we reach a different spiritual plane through food, then they are going to recommend things based on that vs. nutrition alone. Another group like this is the Seventh-day Adventist church, they promote vegetarian and vegan diets, not because they are healthier (though this is is what they claim), but because their prophet said this is how people who are preparing for Heaven should eat.
    For me, these are conflicting interests that taint the facts. Advice from these sources should be taken with a large grain of salt (sea salt, not iodized salt, of course).

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  • Terri via Facebook

    As near as I can tell from reading your post, it wasn’t a “REVIEW” of THM. It was a primer on HOW to rate a diet or eating plan. The principles of how to do that can be done on any diet plan, and you were just giving an example of how the rating or analyzing could be done on THM. Very well done.

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  • Audrey

    Great post Katie! I’ve had some of these same thoughts/concerns. It seems everyone I know is on this “diet”, I’m interested to see if they can sustain their weight loss and this style of eating. Time will tell.

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  • Natalie

    Katie,

    Again you helped me to work through the problems I saw with this eating plan when I saw it on Stacy’s blog. It makes more sense to me to just eat traditional foods that I can make at home, much more enriching and less expensive. I borrowed Nourishing Traditions from the library and made some notes, but I’m glad that I don’t need to fork over more cash to read another eating plan. I have lost quite a bit of weight just by following a traditional diet and getting away from the processed SAD diet. Thanks for all you do!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Natalie,
    I’m so happy to hear that eating real food has done good things for your health! I do encourage you to read the comments here, including my own, because I don’t think the THM plan is a bad thing…I would just follow it through the lens of real food if it was something I felt I wanted/needed to try. In fact, my husband is wondering how he can lose 5-10 more pounds, and I keep joking with him, “You should try the meal combining thing.” He’ll grumble, “I don’t want to be a trim healthy mama…” even though I’ve told him tons of men are successful with it. He feels like he’d miss out on too much…but maybe he and I should both read the book! ;)

    Like Gwen says in this thread, if traditional foods work for you, you don’t need to go looking for something new (actually, she says the reverse, that people wouldn’t need THM if real food was working for them, because there are plenty of people who are still overweight even while eating a really clean diet).

    Hope that clarifies things! :) Katie

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  • Jamie Kaiver

    This post could not have come at a better time for me! I am currently taking a philosophy class and am doing an assignment where I have to connect philosophy characteristics (conceptual clarification, logical thinking etc) to my personal like and my eventual profession (nutrition). So thank you very much!

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  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I only have one point to make and then I’ll hush. I think you’re looking at this through the wrong lens. You assume that everyone on earth wants to live a Whole Foods Diet. That’s not true. Trim Healthy Mama is written for EVERYONE – not just someone who wants to be on whole foods. It’s written for WAPF people and it’s written for Drive Thru Sue. In the book, you’ll see that the sisters often disagree. One is a fan of occasional convenience foods and the other won’t even use a microwave. Do you HAVE to use Dreamfields? Absolutely not. Does Drive Thru Sue need that instead of a Big Mac? Yes.
    It’s very well researched and has a wonderful Biblical basis.
    Also, I think it’s unkind to refer to those who drink or use skim products as though they were fattened pigs. As for the low-fat dairy, they explain that very well in the book.
    The book is about a basic concept – a concept that has worked for many people, including us. You can make that concept work for you if you want to eat whole foods or if you want to eat Truvia.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    By the way, I love you…but you know that. ;-)

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stacy,
    I know you’re a fan of the plan, and I didn’t mean in any way to disparage the success of those who love it. I’m all about balance, too, but certain processed things make me so wary…

    Thank you for your comment, although I’ll disagree with you that I was calling anyone who drinks skim milk (my former self included) a pig. I was just saying that in traditional farming cultures, it’s my understanding that the skim milk was offered to the pigs, not the people. That’s all.

    Don’t worry, I still love you – quick question though, because I keep thinking of things I”m eating and how I couldn’t eat it on the THM plan, because the fat and carbs are in the same recipe. How many of the recipes in your book are you not able to eat anymore on plan?
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Nikki Reply:

    I know Stacy personally and can vouch for her book being totally awesome for a whole food diet. And most recipes can be adapted for thm. Stacy has been really awesome about modifying traditional recipes to fit thm so as to take her whole food recipes and make them thm friendly. And they are still just as tasty :)

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nikki,
    I love Crock On! I bet I cook from it more than any other single resource I have, because I was so deficient in slow cooker recipes, and we love chili powder and cumin as much as Stacy apparently does. ;) In fact, we had the pork roast wraps today and the white beans and ham are soaking for tomorrow. So I definitely wasn’t questioning the whole foods-ness of the book, but I was thinking about the pasta/potatoes (and even those beans, maybe?) recipes that mix fat and carbs and wondering what Stacy is doing with those. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I’ve just taken a new look at how I prepare food and I’ve been able to make old recipes work with just a little tweaking. So, I still use my crock pot recipes often.
    It’s not about “what I can’t have” but instead about what I CAN have and do my body well.

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  • Lori

    I think your article was very well written. I have the book and am learning the plan. One of the points about THM that I think you missed was that the alternating between S and E meals keeps your metabolism high and that also contributes to the weight loss.

    I always enjoy what you write. It is always thought provoking. I have learned a lot about whole foods from your articles. Enough to know I will probably not be a whole food purist but will try to make those the majority of my meal ingredients while also enjoying the convenience of some foods that you might consider processed.

    I grew up on a dairy farm drinking milk that my mom had skimmed the cream off of. We would never have fed that to the animals unless it had gone sour.

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  • Heather Anderson

    I have not read all the above comments, so this may be repeating something already said, or not…First of all, I want to say that I love the guidelines that you give to evaluate a diet. So many “eating plans” come and go, contradict each other, and cause confusion. I would add one more guideline from a Christian perspective. Let me preface this first – I don’t believe how we eat saves us or makes us better Christians. That being said, I believe that there is a lot of wisdom to be gained from looking at what was eaten in the Bible, and by Jesus. But that goes back to traditional diets, which it certainly was. Vegetarian and paleo diets were not in the Bible, at least not long term. Every food group was eaten, in moderation, traditionally prepared, often together.

    I do want to say in defense of this book somewhat, one of the sisters is very purist and would not add the pasta and some of the other less “real” food, where the other sister will allow for cheats. She does acknowledge them as cheats though.

    Thanks again for a thoughtful post, encouraging thoughtful evaluation.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    That’s one of my favorite parts of this book – the Biblical stance of the sisters! :-)

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  • Martha via Facebook

    It’s open in a tab…haven’t read it yet though!

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  • Shauna Perez

    I have read magazines and bought a raw foods book from the authors of THM since 2004. Over the years, they have taught me a lot about eating more naturally, and I have always felt that your site was just another step in my self-education in the field of nutrition.

    I have also been a student of diets for many years. I have always been a healthy weight, but my husband has needed help. For years and years, if he was not losing he was gaining. So I was his self-appointed chef and dietician.

    It was reading about the Atkins diet that started me on abandoning my high carb, low fat ways of the early 90′s. And eating a modified form of it (I was nursing at the time) helped my energy levels and attention. A few years later, another plan (Eat Right 4 Your Type) suggested as a type O blood-type I was more suited to a meat and veggie based diet, and again the energy came back and brain fog left.

    Fast forward 5 years, and your site made me investigate GAPS and gluten free, and all of this journey has helped me understand what in those eating plans worked for me and why.

    I think we are just all unique, and it takes trial and error. Adhering to a diet more like your ancestors would have eaten is easier for your body to handle (advocated by Eat Right 4 your Type). Those who have a strong hunter-gatherer type heritage (esp. Hispanic and African) do not do well on grain-based diets, which is a huge reason for the problems in America with diabetes and obesity in those populations, especially if they are on limited incomes and/or food assistance programs.

    Modern day changes in our activity, food preparation and food sources obviously have increased the problem of obesity, and I believe you and your site have given inquiring minds the tools to see what they can do to take back their food and their bodies. I applaud you and all of those researching how to bring back order in our fallen world. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement you give.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Thanks, Shauna, what a journey you’ve been on! I’ve been super interested in the blood type diet into, too, but I haven’t looked into it much at all. I love that it takes personal health differences into consideration, and it fascinates me.

    This also does:
    “Those who have a strong hunter-gatherer type heritage (esp. Hispanic and African) do not do well on grain-based diets, which is a huge reason for the problems in America with diabetes and obesity in those populations, especially if they are on limited incomes and/or food assistance programs.”

    It’s so true that those populations have a struggle with diabetes, and I always thought perhaps it was an income/education thing because I hear more about the issue in economically depressed areas (I have a few friends in the medical profession in Detroit), but if the problems are the same among well-educated, well-to-do African Americans, then the blood type/heritage theory is pretty compelling.

    So much to learn, always…

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Shauna Perez Reply:

    The comment about the heritage is basically from my experience with my husband and my conclusions from my research. He is Hispanic, and exercises like the dickens and has been on multiple diets trying to ward off his “heredity” all these years. When I read both Atkins and Eat 4 Your Type I sensed that the food types now eaten are a big source of the problem. This would apply to Native Americans as well.

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  • Sheila via Facebook

    I hadn’t heard anything about THM before, except seeing ads for it, so after I read yours I read a few reviews. And I think I’m with you; it sounds not quite real to me. What I’d like is some evidence that we’re supposed to separate out our carbs and fat. Lots of foods naturally contain both, and traditionally people always consumed them together. They go together like … well, like bread and butter! And what about always putting fat on your veggies to help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins?

    And of course there’s personal experience — when I eat carbs with no fat, I have a huge crash.

    The food sounds healthy enough, and you’re sure to lose weight if you cut out all white flour, sugar, and potatoes (but why grapes??), but the fussing about between “E” and “S” meals just seems like a gimmick to me. Where’s the evidence that this works? If you’re eating both meals in the same day, they’re going to mix around in your gut anyway.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    Much of the evidence is actually in measuring people’s blood sugar spikes using glucose monitors! :) Pearl and Serene have done a ton of this, themselves, and also done a ton of research on how food combinations can actually make blood sugars spike. There are quite a few diabetics now using THM successfully and able to eat well and feel very satisfied without having their blood sugar levels spike unhealthily. That says a lot for this kind of lifestyle eating plan, that the data is backing it up. Some families have been using this style of eating for several years now and are still finding it very successful for them! After six months using THM, I am now able to quit taking my medication for my metabolic syndrome/pre-diabetes, and my doctor is very excited for me! She told me, “Whatever you are doing, keep on doing it!” That’s some scientific evidence for you, not just emotional hype. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    You might want to try eating your carbs with a good protein source alongside it instead of adding fats. You might find that you don’t have those deep blood sugar crashes that also cause weight gain. Just a thought.

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    Vixie Reply:

    Actually, you wait at least three hours from an S or E meal before you have the opposite type. Your food won’t be “mixing around in your gut” because the previous meal will have been digested.

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  • Gwen

    So, what you’re saying here is that in order to evaluate a diet or way of eating, you first have to have a solid handle on what you already believe or know to be true about foods, right?

    Because I have a lot of issues with the “traditional foods” ideas that you recommend here as your benchmarks.

    For one thing, if you’re eating traditional foods, and that is really working for you to maintain a healthy weight, then why are you considering other diet methods in the first place?

    If some components are not working for you, then it may be necessary to be open to experimenting outside of that arena of thinking, in which case, the ideology may not apply across the board.

    Meaning this: Trim Healthy Mama is not attempting to be a modified Whole Foods diet plan. So it’s not going to meet all of the criteria of a whole foods ideology as you lay out. Some aspects of the plan will adapt easily if you adhere to whole foods, and others may appeal more to ladies who are not whole foodists.

    What you want to ask, and NEED to ask is ‘are the processed products (or ideas that I conflict with) central to success on this plan?’

    I can tell you that the answer to that would be “No.” You can adapt your own food convictions and tastes to the premise of THM without buying even one processed or special product.

    Sweets? Grow stevia, grow fruit…
    Wheat? Sourdough, fermented, or sprouted grains are promoted as healthy carbs.
    Want pasta? Spaghetti squash may be your solution.
    LOVE dairy, and don’t trust low fat? Enjoy it with S meals!

    These are all things people would have been able to do long ago. In fact, I have an Aunt that lives in Albania and hikes into the nearest town to buy things at market. She is successfully doing and LOVING THM without ANY processed or special products at all. Her diet is very traditional.

    Re: skim milk products– I’ve actually interviewed friends who had very traditional food history, and they did get the separated cream and skim milk as daily food, and as it sat, it cultured.

    I don’t doubt that skim milk *may* have been used to slop pigs by those who had access to lots of dairy, but I hardly think that is an across the board, historically accurate assessment of how milk products have been used through the ages. Many cultures do not even raise pigs.

    But to really bring this into focus, we’re not talking about bodies who have lived ‘traditional’ hard working lives with traditional foods ‘needing’ THM to control weight.

    We’re talking about people who have issues with insulin resistance from years and years and years of “regular” American diets. Who sometimes have a few years of ‘health foods’ or whole foods under their belts. And who are still not happy with their weight.

    Cleaning up a SAD with whole foods is awesome, but I know ***PLENTY*** of whole food Mamas with ample backsides and jiggly bellies. And frustration over their whole, grass fed, organic foods making a whole LOT more pudge than is healthy.

    I can show you the testimonials of MANY a whole food Mama who put on lots of weight on great, nourishing whole foods, and who are LOSING that weight on great, nourishing whole foods THM style. :)

    I would consider myself a semi-whole foodist. I appreciate quality foods. But my years of enjoying those foods packed major amounts of weight on my frame.

    I’ve lost 35 pounds of that with THM. Easily.

    And to be VERY honest, I can’t imagine ever going back to the way I ate before. I just love the food and the understanding of how to best support my body, as well as my kids bodies, who are NOT as insulin resistant.

    Speaking of family cooking, really the meals for the family are very easy to do. Generally, just adding in a snack or side dish will be enough to provide a full ‘crossover’ for weight gain/maintenance or growing kids. Really simple.

    You’re correct in saying that going off of sugar was a MAJOR component of my losses. But I’ve dieted before, and avoided sugar, and THM is the FIRST time I’ve ever felt truly FREE of my cravings for sugar.

    I would never be able to sustain a truly sugar free lifestyle (meaning low glycemic sugar sources only, like fruit), without the knowledge, understanding, and simple recipes to enjoy sweet things without spiking my blood sugar. So in a way, THM was the best way for *me* to find a method of going (and staying) sugar free. I can have my cake and ice cream and eat it too. :)

    But honestly, after watching my body heal, and learning how to gain or drop my weight with S & E meals, I can tell you that going truly sugar free is only a small part of what makes THM work.

    I’d like to also suggest that the BEST way to evaluate an eating style is to actually read the book, so that you really understand the ‘why’ and the way the puzzle pieces all fit together. Several of the issues that jumped out at you are really not lynchpins of the plan, only options that stand out to you because you disagree with them.

    What you’ve assembled here is a way to gather enough information to reject a way of eating based on your existing food beliefs. Which, I dunno…seems kind of easy if you are very devoted to one approach to food.

    By just jumping on a few little ‘trigger foods’ here and there, you *can* build a case for rejecting almost any (non-whole food) way of eating. But you may be throwing out the pig with the skim milk…or something like that. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Gwen,
    That’s awesome that you have had such success – one of the reasons THM continues to intrigue me. I was asked by a number of people what I thought about it, and I didn’t know, so I started poking.

    Your closing is a just criticism:
    “What you’ve assembled here is a way to gather enough information to reject a way of eating based on your existing food beliefs. Which, I dunno…seems kind of easy if you are very devoted to one approach to food.

    By just jumping on a few little ‘trigger foods’ here and there, you *can* build a case for rejecting almost any (non-whole food) way of eating. But you may be throwing out the pig with the skim milk…or something like that.”

    And I appreciate your humor! More reading needed on my part, clearly. Thanks for visiting! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Gwen Reply:

    My closing is a critique in your logic behind this post.

    Let’s say you only wear size 6 shoes, in real leather, and you shop exclusively at the size 6 only shoe store, and they carry real leather shoes. But friends have found GREAT looking shoes at great prices at another store.

    Why would you go to that shoe store and do a walk through, and then give them negative reviews for having too many other sizes, and selling shoes that are not made of leather.

    What if they DO have size 6 leather shoes, and for a better price than your regular store?

    See where I’m going with this? :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Gwen,
    I am checking out the THM plan to see if I find my size of shoe, in the material I prefer… ;)

    I think if I ran a website for people who only wore size 6 leather shoes, it would be a good idea for me to write a post about how to make sure they find shoes they like in a big huge store, so they don’t end up buying faux leather shoes on accident.

    So I do see where you’re going – you’re saying I shouldn’t knock the whole plan because I don’t agree with part of it – but I AM trying to give the THM authors the benefit of the doubt in this post, but also help MY readers, who wouldn’t be here if they didn’t already appreciate real foods, to sift through the options in the plan and figure out how to make it work for them.

    Is my logic off in this post? I’ve read it again word by word, a few times, to make sure I wasn’t being unfair. I don’t think I have been. You’re right in saying that I spent the most time discussing the parts I didn’t agree with, but that’s because those are the parts I had to look into most closely and thus have the most quantity of information. I can’t say as much about the food combining basics, because I don’t know as much about that. I don’t think it could be dangerous, though, so I certainly wouldn’t tell my friends who love their shoes to stop doing it….I’d just counsel them not to treat their shoes with too much Truvia.

    I’m so glad you had amazing success with this plan, and your experience with the true reduction in sugar cravings is just the sort of anecdotal evidence that really makes and impact on me personally when I’m figuring something out! Thanks again for visiting…

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Gwen Reply:

    I was under the impression from the title of your post that you were illustrating how to critique a food philosophy to know if it’s compatible with a whole foods lifestyle.

    You do have LOTS of great points in your post about how to do this.

    My issue is mainly that you’ve spent lots of time in the post exploring and illustrating foods that you find to be incompatible with a whole foods lifestyle from the plan. On the surface, this would seem to indicate that THM has ‘failed’ a whole foods critique.

    However, this is not really useful info in determining if the *philosophy* behind the food plan is compatible with whole foods.

    Your issues you point out with some of the foods simply illustrates that some people (including one of the authors) utilize the food plan without applying whole foods principles to it.

    While this might be helpful for your reader to know, it’s really pretty off topic to whether or not the food plan is compatible with a whole foods mindset. In my mind, this is a dis-service to your readers and to the authors, since it’s shifting the focus off of your initial purpose in writing.

    Honestly, pinpointing incompatible foods really has nothing to do with whether the plan works for whole food lovers. We have lots and lots of purist ladies on the Facebook group (which I help moderate), and they are still maintaining their own principles in choosing foods, and successfully following the THM plan.

    The ideas of allowing ladies to choose their own food sources and style of eating was very important to the authors…one sister is whole foods, and one is not. They both wanted the book to leave the area of food choice open to personal conviction, which makes the plan do-able for anyone, and anywhere in the world. It’s one of the things I love about the book, in fact.

    I totally understand your desire to stick with whole foods, and to support your readers in staying true to a whole foods mindset. I just hate to see the focus be so much on finding fault with individual foods vs. really exploring whether whole foods principles can truly be enjoyed and implemented on the THM plan.

    I’d love to see you read the book, and do a trial run, and then post about whether or not the principles work for you, and what THM looks like in a whole foods kitchen. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Gwen,
    Um. Yes. You are totally correct. Touche. Bazinga. You definitely caught my flawed thinking, or at least the flawed title of the post. :/ Sometimes I just get a-typing away and lose track of my thoughts….

    I’m actually really glad that you, Stacy, and Julieanne were so vocal in the comments here – I don’t mind being highjacked when people know more about a subject than I do! I hope I can find time to do something with the plan, at least read up on it more, if not try it out…but I’m still a little scared of all the rules!

    Thanks for the encouragement – I’ll be sure to see you around the Facebook page if I do jump in with both feet. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Serene in Singapore

    Wow! Such passionate discussion on a food plan :D I come from a GAPS and now Paleo background. All this due to allergy issues (eczema mainly and some sinus issues) that my family and I suffer from.

    I heard about THM from a friend and I have exactly the same reservations as you have about the book. With all food plans, as with all cures, there will always be those who find success with it and those who do not.

    Always having to think about food combining is tiring imo. It seems highly unnatural. Of course, over time we can and will get used to it. But I am wondering if I want to spend my time doing that.

    GAPS and Paleo has done nothing for my eczema but it has made me very aware of how certain foods make me feel.

    I keep thinking of the foods they used to eat and think – would they have so much time to analyse how and what they ate? How sad that this is how far we have fallen.

    Anyway, thanks for the pseudo review :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julieanne Reply:

    Ha! Love the comment about the pseudo review, but I still believe, Katie, that you did well with the knowledge that you had, even though you haven’t read the book yet.

    I’m mystified about people getting stressed about the food combining concept. It takes most people about a week or so of making up a menu plan, for them to figure out whether they are putting the right foods together. Each recipe clearly states whether it is an S or an E meal, or an even more weight-losing meal called a “Fuel Pull”. It’s really not rocket science, nor is it hard! If it was hard, there wouldn’t be thousands and thousands of us THM’ers who have been doing this for 6-9 months and are very happy with it all.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Serene,
    And GAPS and Paleo get a bit tiring for me! ;) I think it’s all what you “get” used to, like Julieanne said. If the eczema is not disappearing, it makes me wonder what is the root cause? Food and health are SO hard to figure out, but you’re definitely on the right track with learning an awareness of how foods make you feel. That’ll be the first key to healing, I”m sure – it’s just pinning down all the keys.

    We live in a STRANGE food world, don’t we?

    :) Katie

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  • Evelyn via Facebook

    I kept seeing THM around the webs and checked out the website (not because I was searching for a new eating regimen but just because I like to keep abreast of what is going around in dietary theories as much as I can) but anytime I look into a “nutritional regimen” and see “low-fat” dairy products listed as a suggestion anywhere I quickly dismiss, regardless of recommendations for no calorie sweeteners (whatever they are) or other specialty products (I use cheap pasta from the store probably at least half the time I make pasta, which is really only 2 or at most 3 times a month really). I have learned for the most part to read through nutrition advice through a traditional food lens knowing I can make substitutions for more real foods but recommendations for low-fat dairy to make a plan work just doesn’t make sense to me, I’d personally rather skip milk altogether than use skim milk although it sounds like you could still use full fat cheese, cream cheese and full fat sour cream, some butter etc.) However I do know that most packaged foods (that aren’t specifically diet foods by being low fat or low carb) are engineered to make you eat more specifically by combining large amounts of carbs with large amounts of fats so I can see in that aspect how their recommendations could help. Despite that, I agree with another commenter that I know if I eat too many carbs without fats that I crash and have no energy pretty quickly. But if I eat too much protein and fat without enough starchy or quick digested carbs I don’t have energy for long either. And I don’t feel great on a lot of grains so I try to get most carbs from veg and make sure to include starchy veg and some dried fruit (like dates with peanut butter and coconut oil, tastes kind of like a reese’s :) and a little fruit for myself. However, I see your post more as a “how to evaluate a nutritional regimen” post more than a review of THM and it is definitely more how I think about things when I am considering tenets of an eating plan. Although, I think it’s funny to call researching an eating plan by internet, as one commenter said, the easy way of looking into it vs reading the book. :) I mean, if I were to base my opinions of THM solely by reading your blog post here I could see how that might be considered “the easy way” but it is obvious just like all your posts that you spent time looking up everything you could find on it. Researching that way may give you an unbalanced perspective on the whole eating plan because you haven’t read the whole book but it certainly isn’t “easier” lol

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  • Deborah via Facebook

    The neat thing about THM is that it is something you could do as a traditional purist or as a Frankenfood geek. Obviously, those reading your blog (including myself) would lean toward the traditional-way being smarter. For the past 10+ years I have been moving toward a more Nourishing Traditions way of eating, but just couldn’t get there. This diet gave me the tools and recipes to make meals for the whole family that incorporate my NT eating. I am eating more NT than I was before the diet! The meals are so sensible and not expensive that they make it easier for me make healthy food for the family. (I do have a Stevia dessert once a day. Several people do THM with NONE of the specialty ingredients, but I needed help getting sugar out of my diet – even coconut sugar was affecting the way I felt and stopping me from losing weight.)
    My biggest “traditional” issue was the egg separation. I always thought that was stupid to separate eggs. Someone pointed out how VERY easily they separate – and that swayed me a bit! Maybe God made eggs so easily separateable so we could do that to them! I only use just egg whites about once every two weeks when I make the Trim Healthy Pancakes for the family (cottage cheese, oats, egg whites – absolutely delicious!) I put the yolks aside and use them in the next morning’s egg scramble. It may not be traditional purity, but it is yummy and I’m still getting the whole egg.
    Like you pointed out in the review, they probably didn’t separate eggs (or carbs and fats) often in the good ‘ol days but they also didn’t have the health issues we have. I have had a sluggish metabolism and thyroid issues. I am quite sure the problems were my fault, and that eating more traditionally has only helped me – in a baby step way. This THM diet has raised my metabolism, increased my nursing supply, raised my body temperature, caused me to start ovulating again, and helped me lose weight! And I eat so. much. food. I have had Dreamfields pasta a total of 1 time – just out of curiosity. I use glucomannan to thicken gravy. I’ll have a Joseph’s low carb pita about once a week. Other than that, I am eating a balanced diet of whole foods that is yummy and satisfying. I am so thankful for the THM diet. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but love that it is adaptable to a great variety of people.

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  • Bits & Pieces | Natural Moms Talk Radio

    [...] at KitchenStewardship wrote an excellent post about evaluating new nutritional philosophies (aka diets) with critical thinking. When the internet is a abuzz with the latest diet guru’s book, we need some tools to help us [...]

  • Cori

    I am a purist / Traditional foods believer and also do THM. I have not changed to foods I eat, just the way I combine them. As has been said, it really is a situation of catering to all types which I am ok with since people will be benefited greatly by just giving up sugar & processed meals. I love stevia. It is a herb. I just am careful with the kind I get.
    Though I do love the traditional foods approach, I have to admit that I have been discouraged to see many people who follow it do have extra weight, so I see their point on balance. We are not the same as people were hundreds of years ago. We don’t walk everywhere. We are surrounded by chemicals & junk even when we try. It is the sad state of the world we live in.
    The whole low fat dairy was hard for me too at first but I view it as a temporary sacrifice to loose a few pounds. My kids eat the same meals I eat except that I basically make them a crossover meal. Ex. I eat eggs alone or maybe a few berries ( S meal) I let the kids add toast ( soaked etc) No prob! I eat oatmeal with only some berries & 1tsp fat ( butter / coc oil ) no milk. ( E meal) The kids add whole milk or extra fat to theirs. Easy! See how it is possible to make the same meals essentially, but still beef theirs up to be more appropriate for kids? I have thin children that do not need to loose even a pound & they haven’t.
    I have really enjoyed THM & find it easy to follow as a purist. No dream field pasta, I just avoid pasta since I already did unless it is a vegi version ( zucchini strips, cabbage thinly sliced etc)
    I do the glucconan because it is natural but It was not terrible expensive ( lasts forever since u use little) . I think THM is perfect because of the fact that it caters to both types. I can go on eating my simple basic foods, but “drive thru Sue” who never cooks & has a palate formed by years of processed food.
    Just my 2 cents! Love your site!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    That’s awesmoe to hear! :) Katie

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  • via Facebook

    I worked hard not to use the word “review” and hope that if people do try the THM plan, they can use the research I did do to decide for themselves whether they use certain foods, or not. What I do love is the balance the authors provide and the fact that, as I’ve been told by many, you don’t have to use the “non-traditional” foods I mentioned in my post. Emily Kim Cathy Angie

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  • Deborah via Facebook

    I’m hoping the authors will provide a copy of the book for you to do a full review! It would be fun to see if you thought the same way after reading or liked it a bit more.

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  • via Facebook

    Sheila I’m sure you and I both should just read the book! ;) I do know you can still put fat on your veggies (and should, that’s an S meal), but just a little butter on your bread. Once you’re at goal weight, things change a little. But I know…I’ve been thinking about it a lot this weekend, and I keep thinking of things I would have to skip/change – popcorn with butter, cheese and crackers, banana bread…so many things that, like you said, have carbs and fat. On the other hand, I’m not really trying to lose weight, so…I’m not a very good test subject.

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  • Sheila via Facebook

    I know, me neither. I am happy with my weight; what I’m not happy with is the way my blood sugar fluctuates so wildly and I feel sleepy after every meal. Pretty sure I need to just bite the bullet and cut out ALL sugar and white flour, which I haven’t had the guts to do yet.

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  • Cathy via Facebook

    I know it wasn’t a “review” technically but it comes across as such being that it is the only book chosen to be evaluated by your criteria. If you had evaluated several different plans it would be different. And BTW, I didn’t mean my comment unkindly, just honestly…I hope you understood that. My best to you.

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  • Stacy Makes Cents

    Katie, you were right. I was wrong. I admit it…you were right. Next time, I’ll listen to you. :-) Thank you, my friend. You keep me honest.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oh, my dear…a rare moment. Love you!! {hugs} Humility is a great virtue and blessing…

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    Lisa V in BC Reply:

    Stacy,

    this comment made me check out your blog – I’ll be going there more now for some recipes :)
    (I just saw your cheesy rotini recipe and can’t wait to try it for dinner!!)

    Blessings & Thanks for being humble enough to come back here and post this little comment!
    Lisa V in BC

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  • Anna

    I hope you don’t mind that I shared your link on fb:) while I don’t feel 100% the same as you, we share a lot of the same concerns about thm. Thanks for writing your thoughts on this!

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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