Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: Trim Healthy Mama Plan

Many of us have been there. Most of us, in all likelihood. Overweight and out of shape, desperate for a change, so many people keep trying out new diets and meal plans.
Sisters Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison were there once. They went through every diet craze, listened to the buzzwords, tried to incorporate the latest "it" foods. Eventually, they came to the understanding that no diet is going to make you healthy for life. What they, and most of the rest of us, need is a lifestyle change. And thus, after years of dietary tweaking and one successful but over-long self-published book, Pearl and Serene have made that change.

With their new book, Trim Healthy Mama Plan, Pearl and Serene offer readers a streamlined introduction to their lifestyle.

Their last book, despite its wordiness and typos, became a bestseller. There are tons of Trim Healthy Mamas (and husbands and families!) all over the place, and online blogs are full of meal plans and recipes that are "on" the THM plan. This book, along with its companion Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook, are sure to be well-received by readers already familiar with the plan, and to become favorites for new readers.

But what is this plan? Without giving away too many details, here is the gist. All meals have some form of protein as their centerpiece (and by protein, I mean meat; the program is doable for vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy, but nearly impossible for vegans). Some meals are "satisfying" and have lots of fat in them, others are "energizing" and contain more veggies, beans, and grains. Some meals are both at once, although the main premise is that switching back and forth between fuel sources (fat and carbohydrates) is what will get the body to start burning its own fat. The only foods that aren't on the plan are truly unhealthy ones. Snacks and desserts are definitely okay. No calorie counting, no set menus, no designated portions. Food freedom!

Personally, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this style of eating, although I can understand why it appeals to so many. And I must admit that I nearly closed the book when I read that Pearl and Serene based a lot of their ideas on the Bible.
Instead of looking to the next guru, we looked to the Bible. Who could know better than our Creator? Thankfully the Bible holds sound advice, simple advice. So simple it is profound.
While I am certainly not a religious person, I also certainly hold nothing against those who are followers of any particular spiritual path. But I suppose I also don't really think of the Bible as having the answers for what we should be eating. It's not exactly a focus of the various books of the Bible, although certainly food is mentioned off and on. And after all, there are a lot of things that were advocated for in the Bible that we simply don't do these days.

Religious overtones aside (and yes, there are little bits of religion scattered throughout the book; some readers will find them inspirational, although I just found them distracting), Trim Healthy Mama Plan is a pretty well put-together book. There is a fair amount of research on various components of food. The basics of the different meals are described in detail. There are a slew of chapters that focus on various types of people (such as people who work away from home, people who are trying to move past a junk food lifestyle, pregnant or nursing mamas, vegetarians), and those chapters do feature a few specific meal ideas, which is what many readers will want at the beginning. Other chapters discuss various "superfoods" (and they're not the super foods you're thinking of; gelatin and oolong tea and spices are just a few of the foods these ladies heartily recommend), how to eat out on the plan, and the concept of "cheat" meals.

One other thing that does bother me a lot about this book is the authors' attitudes toward vegetables. Yes, they advocate eating them. They recognize that vegetables are full of nutrients and fiber and complex carbohydrates. But every so often they also talk about them in an annoyingly negative manner:
Hold on, are you envisioning having to stuff dry salad and brittle broccoli into your mouth? Think again! Broccoli is a whole different animal when it is tossed with S fuels of melted butter, a little grated cheese, and a sprinkle of high-mineral salt and black pepper. You won't feel forced to eat your salad greens when they're drizzled with generous, anti-inflammatory olive oil or creamy dressing and topped with lots of other yummy fixings like bacon bits or nuts. No Spartan rabbit food for us Trim Healthy Mamas!
Can we please just get past this misconception that vegetables don't taste good unless they're covered with oil and cheese? Because it's not true. Vegetables are delicious when they're prepared properly. The people who don't like vegetables are the people who don't know how to cook them right. Enough said.

Anyway. While I have no interest in adopting the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I can see why a lot of people think it sounds amazing. Does it work? Pearl and Serene say it does, as do hundreds of people who have reviewed the book or who feature it in their blog posts. If it works for you, then I'm certainly not going to bash it. We're all different, and different eating habits work for different people. If the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle appeals to you, then go for it!

Even though I'm not interested in the plan, I did very much enjoy reading the book. Pearl and Serene write in such a friendly manner and are so encouraging that I found myself smiling and nodding along. So we'll just end this review with a bit of that famous encouragement: "You got this!"


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own!

This post was shared at the Happy, Healthy, Green & Natural Party Blog Hop on 2/29/2016.

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