Antibiotic-Free Diet for Health and Weight Loss?

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Let me state from the outset of this post that I am a layperson when it comes to nutritional health research. However, that does not prevent me from accessing the vast amounts of information online and elsewhere (and taking a college class in nutrition here and there) in my quest for answers to my insatiable desire to learn more about health.

I recently watched Dr. Oz’s show and his interview with Dr. Martin Blaser regarding the deleterious effects of over-used antibiotics on human health and obesity.1  Not only is there a link between prescribed antibiotics and obesity in America, but antibiotics in our meats, dairy products and eggs seem to be a problem, as well. (I highly recommend that you watch Dr. Oz’s program to learn more. See link in references below.)

Why do antibiotics that make us fat? Sharon Begley references Dr. Martin Blaser in a 2013 Reader’s Digest article: “The rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use,” says Dr. Blaser. “Early exposure to antibiotics may prime children for obesity later in life.”

Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria that cause infection, so sometimes you need to take them. However, those same antibiotics kill a lot of the good bacteria in the gut, as well. Studies show that a deficit of healthy, probiotic flora in the intestinal tract causes or leads to weight gain.2

To make matters worse, some antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin) can increase the prostaglandin ghrelin in the body as much as six times. Ghrelin increases hunger, which leads to overeating. Ghrelin also increases abdominal fat.3

Sharon Begley further explains the reason farmers add antibiotics to food: “The drugs alter the gut bacteria in cattle, pigs, and other animals, substituting bacteria that are better at extracting maximum calories from feed, which makes the animals plump up.”4 If antibiotics make humans fat, of course they make animals fat and when we consume animal products pumped full of antibiotics, they must be making us fat. I should have made the connection before.

This means that our intestinal flora could control whether or not we gain or lose weight. Research shows that thin people have a greater number of bacteroidetes (good bacteria or probiotics) in their intestinal tract than overweight people.

So, my question is: How do we increase the bacteroidetes in our guts?

Ray Sahelian, MD wrote on April 6, 2014 that ingesting the probiotics like acidophilus could replace the harmful bacteria in the gut.5

Another way to increase bacteroidetes in your intestinal tract is to consume raw, whole, unpasteurized, grass-fed, antibiotic-free cow’s or goat’s milk. These types of milk contain the probiotics acidophilus and lactobacillus, as well as the enzymes necessary for digesting proteins in the milk.6 As some of you know, I have been on a mission to locate raw goat or cow milk, because I am allergic to dairy products. I wanted to find out if I would have the same allergies to unpasteurized milks. I have recently had the joy of purchasing a share of a cow and am reaping the benefits of freely consuming delicious, whole, raw dairy products without a single allergic side effects! (And for those of you wondering, it is an A1/A2 Jersey cow.)

To further increase bacteroidetes in your intestinal tract you can consume more prebiotics, a type of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut. According to microbiologist Andrew Gewirtz of George State University, bacteroidetes increase in the presence of fructans. Fructans (short for Fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS) are the compounds found in asparagus, artichokes, garlic, and onions.7 FOS or Fructans are also found in high amounts in Jerusalem artichoke, blue agave, chickory, bananas, barley, wheat, jicama, and leeks. Interestingly, FOS has been used as a sweetener in Japan for years.8 This may possibly be yet another key to the mystery of trim, healthy cultures.

I, like so many thousands of other people in America, have been consuming lean chicken breasts and egg whites in order to lose weight and inches of fat, not realizing until Dr. Oz’s interview with Dr. Blaser that the antibiotics in the meat could be inhibiting my efforts. Since that show, I have begun making the switch to organic proteins. Of all diets this is probably one of the healthiest and easiest, so I might as well experiment on myself. (By the way, organic means antibiotic-free when it comes to meat, dairy and eggs.) After nearly two weeks I am still not completely antibiotic-free, because I don’t want to waste the foods I have already purchased. As soon as we finish up the antibiotic-infused foods in our house I’ll really get down to testing this antibiotic-free diet.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and if any others of you are trying the “antibiotic-free diet” or have been on it for some time already, I’d love to hear from you. I have a lot of questions: Is it working for you? Have you lost weight? Have you been able to keep it off? Have you lost fat? Have you lost inches? Have you gained muscle mass? Are you healthier? Is your immune system stronger?

Thanks for reading!

1. http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/fat-drug-how-antibiotics-make-you-gain-weight

2. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265434.php)

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520055519.htm

4. Begley, Sharon. “When Germs are the Good Guys.” Reader’s Digest. October 2013: p. 112.

5. http://www.raysahelian.com/bacteroidetes.html

6. http://www.robinsonfarm.org/FactsRawMilk.html

7. Begley, Sharon. “When Germs are the Good Guys.” Reader’s Digest. October 2013: p. 111

8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructooligosaccharide

Bananas and the THM Diet

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Serene and Pearl have a lot to say about bananas. Here are some quotes from their book:

“A word about bananas. God made them and they are a wonderful food. We buy them for our children, who are growing and still very insulin sensitive since they have young cells and run around all day. We very rarely eat bananas ourselves, as they are more like potatoes, and can easily fatten an adult. If you don’t want to say a complete goodbye to them, stick to half a banana as a limit when eating E style. Fill up on something else and we have plenty of choices for you.” page 83

“Can we remind you again to please steer clear of bananas, or use only half a banana in an E smoothie?” p. 247

A Question and answer from the Book: I thought bananas were healthy. This is the first time I’ve been told to not eat them. What about other fruits like watermelon, pineapple, and mangoes?

Yes, bananas are healthy. God made them for a purpose. They are excellent for growing children and for people who struggle to keep on weight. !e reason for this is that they are much higher in sugars than the other fruits we suggest. Tropical fruits on a whole have less fiber and more sugar. This doesn’t mean you should totally exclude them from your diet. You can have small amounts of these with E meals, e.g., mango in some salsa, pineapple in some cottage cheese, small piece of watermelon, or half a banana. Personally, we stay away from bananas, but we had addictions to them in the past. Three in one sitting was not beyond us, so they are trigger foods for us.  p. 596

Note: Pearl and Serene recommend using banana extract in several recipes if you still want that banana flavor.

“We call bananas and other high glycemic fruits healthy since God made them, but only for those whose blood sugar can handle them. If something is chock full of vitamins and minerals and yet causes your waistline to expand and spike your blood sugar levels, which is aging and inflammatory, it is not healthy for you.” p. 596

So, how many carbohydrates are in a medium-sized banana? Twenty-seven (27). The THM diet allows 45 grams of carbohydrates in an “E” meal and only 4-9 grams of carbohydrates in an “S” meal. (Essentially zero grams of carbohydrates are allowed in an “FP” meal.)

Does this mean you can go ahead and eat a ¾ of a banana in an “E” meal or snack and not gain weight? Well, you might, but I can’t. When I eat a even 1/2 of a banana I may not gain weight that day, but I know I’m likely not going to lose any weight.

 

Grams of Carbohydrates and Fats Allowed in Weight Loss Meals

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Basically, in my understanding, when you’re eating a high healthy fats meal, you have to keep carbohydrates to nearly zero. When you’re eating a moderate carbohydrate meal, you need to keep the fats to nearly zero.

Here’s a chart to help you:

Grams of

Healthy Fat Meal

Moderate Carbohydrate Meal

Nonfat, Carbohydrate-Free Meal

Carbohydrates

5-6

Up to 45

As close to 0 as possible

Fat

Limitless?

4-7

As close to 0 as possible

Not a Trim Healthy Mama Expert

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I thought I’d just write a quick note reminding everyone that I’m not an expert on the THM diet. I’m completely new to it as of a few months ago. I have read the book through a couple of times now and I’m still learning as I go.

I started writing this blog when a couple of people told me that they couldn’t understand the diet based on the book. I agreed that there were a lot of confusing elements in it. Since I’m adept at writing, editing, and rewriting as part of my profession, I thought I’d make it easier for my friends to follow the THM eating plan by attempting to clarify some things.

Again, let me restate: I am not the expert. Others on my blog have pointed out my misunderstandings and I appreciate their input. I’m the first to admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I thought only a few friends would read this blog, so I was surprised when I started receiving emails alerting me that I had followers to my blog. It makes me a little nervous, because I’m afraid my readers will expect me to know everything about this diet and how it works. I don’t.

In spite of my lack of knowledge and understanding, I continue to be amazed at how, even when I make mistakes, and even when I’m not adhering to the THM diet perfectly all the time,  I’m still losing weight. That’s the beauty of it. I want to share the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating with more people, because it’s brilliant and it works!

In conclusion, even though I may not get everything right all the time, the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan is working for me. The food-combining is revolutionary and effective. I’m just a huge THM fan trying to figure it out as I continue heading steadily toward my weight loss goal. I’m enjoying the process and I hope I can help you do the same.

Nonfat, Carb-Free Bread Recipe

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Finding any sort of low carbohydrate bread for a nonfat, carb-free meal is a challenge. The cloud bread recipe I posted earlier is a good one for more of a white bread appearance and flavor, but it can’t be eaten in a nonfat, carb-free meal.

The following recipe is okay for a more whole grain flavor and texture, but I’ll admit it is bland. If anyone can come up with a better bread recipe, I’d really like you to share it. (Should I add more salt, seasonings, slather it with mustard for a sandwich? I’m not sure.)

1-1/2 c almond meal flour
5 T psyllium husk powder
2 t baking powder
1 t sea salt
2-1/2 T apple cider vinegar
3 large egg whites
1 c boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, psyllium husk powder, baking powder and salt. Mix until dry ingredients are well combined. Add in the eggs & vinegar and mix into a thick dough. Add boiling water and mix until well combined and dough is slightly thicker than pancake batter.

Form into 4 to 6 rounds (about 4” in diameter) or one large sub/loaf and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes for smaller rounds; longer for one large loaf. Remove from the oven and allow to completely.

My 2014 “Trim Healthy Mama” New Year’s Resolution

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I really enjoy the Trim Healthy Mama diet and have steadily and slowly lost weight. But I must emphasize the slow part. I have discovered one negative to the Trim Healthy Mama diet—and it’s entirely my fault: I have become lax in my workout. I was sick for a week; then I became busier and that led to more excuses and sheer laziness. My thinking was, “Why exercise when it’s so easy to lose weight just by eating according to the THM diet?”

So, for my New Year’s resolution for 2014, I will stick to my very effective THM way of eating, but I resolve to get back to my regular exercise routine. Not only will I speed up my weight loss efforts, but I will be stronger and healthier, as well.

Speaking of being stronger and healthier, I was thinking that the THM diet is perfect for those who have physical injuries, are sick, or are so overweight that exercise might be next to impossible. You can start the diet, lose significant weight, get healed up from injuries and illness; then, when you’re ready, incorporate exercise according to your doctor’s recommendations.

I can do this! And so can you!

Happy New Year!

Nonfat, Low-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients Grams of Carbohydrate Grams of Fat
Dry Ingredients
1 cup oat flour (You could substitute flax or spelt.) 58.5 0
1 t baking powder 1.2 0
½ t soda 0 0
½ t salt 0 0
½ t cinnamon 0 0
2 T peanut butter 6 16
1 c xylitol 48* 0
Wet Ingredients
1 T molasses 15 0
2 T egg white 0 0
¼ cup applesauce 7 0
½ tsp vanilla 0 0
2 cups quinoa flakes 218 0
.25 cup semisweet chocolate** 41.3 0
.25 cup baking chocolate 8 14
Instructions:Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12’. Makes 30 cookies
Total carbs and fats in entire recipe 403 30
Total divided by 30 cookies 13.43 1.2
Number of grams of carbohydrates and fats allowed in a single THM snack 45 4-9

*There are 4 grams of carbohydrates / tsp in NOW brand.

**Please Note: I have also made this recipe with unsweetened baking chocolate. Doing so cuts the refined sugar to zero and reduces the carbs considerably.

Low-Carb Flours

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  • Flax flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Oat flour
  • Defatted peanut flour
  • Psyllium husk powder
  • Quinoa flour

I recently made some low-carb chocolate chip cookies using oat flour. I’ll share the recipe in my next blog, but I thought I’d let you know that I used small chunks and shavings of unsweetened baking chocolate. The xylitol in the cookies is enough to sweeten the chocolate. Again, if you’re accustomed to eating less sugar, the sugar-free cookies taste great. Otherwise, you might want to add more xylitol to the recipe.

Happy New Year!

Counting Carbohydrates and Limiting Fats in Nonfat, Moderate-Carb Meals

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Sometimes I really wish I could add a little more fat to nonfat, moderate-carbohydrate meals, but add too much fat and you’ll start packing on the pounds. (I try to keep moderate-carbohydrate meals or snacks to no more than 45 carbohydrates.)

So, how many grams of fat are in 2 teaspoons? It varies according to the fat in question.

2 teaspoons of peanut butter = 4 grams of fat.

2 teaspoons of almond butter = about 6 grams of fat.

2 teaspoons of Earth Balance margarine = about 7 grams of fat.

What about egg yolks? One egg yolk is equal to 1 Tablespoon. However, there are only 4.5 grams of fat in an egg yolk. Trim Healthy Mama experts advise no more than 4 grams of fat per nonfat, moderate-carbohydrate meal and yet there can be up to 7 grams of fat in 2 teaspoons of some foods, like almond butter or margarine. My conclusion? 4.5 grams of fat has not caused me to gain weight in a nonfat, moderate-carbohydrate meal, so I often go ahead and leave the yolk in my egg. However, that means no margarine—not even the thinnest spread—on my toast. I think it’s a good trade.

Nonfat, Low-Carb Meal Plan Ideas

Macaroni and Cheese: Low-carb Dreamfields pasta with 1 tsp of Earth Balance, a splash of almond milk, and some grated nonfat cheese (like skim mozzarella and parmesan)

Fried egg, skim mozzarella cheese, turkey breast on sprouted grain toast

Carbs + Fat = Weight Gain

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For the past three days I decided to take a break from my diet by mixing a few fats and carbs in one or two meals per day. I didn’t go crazy, but I ate a banana with some peanut butter and 10 plain M&Ms, enjoyed a sandwich with regular, rather than non-sprouted bread, savored a pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, and ate some low-carb pancakes with some real maple syrup on top.

The first day my weight remained static–no gains, no losses. I can handle that. But, the second and third days I gained weight–not a lot; just a couple of pounds, but I think I have just provided a measurable case study once again proving the science behind a nonfat, low-carb diet (like Ornish or Pritikin) and healthy fats diet (like Atkins). I can have either a healthy fat meal or a nonfat, low-carb meal, but I can’t mix the two. For me:

Carbs + Fat = Weight Gain

Maybe you can mix the two, but I certainly cannot without negative consequences.

Happy Holidays!

Antibiotics and Weight Gain

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Just as a side note today, I want to mention that, in spite of steadily and joyfully losing weight on the THM diet, I have experienced a two-week setback, due to a urinary tract infection and taking the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.

Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria that cause infection, so sometimes you need to take them. However, those same antibiotics kill a lot of the good bacteria in the gut, as well. Studies show that a deficit of healthy, probiotic flora in the intestinal tract causes or leads to weight gain. (See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265434.php) The short version: Taking antibiotics can cause weight gain if you don’t keep pouring in the probiotics as a countermeasure.

To make matters worse, some antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin) can increase the prostaglandin ghrelin in the body as much as six times. Ghrelin increases hunger, which leads to overeating. Ghrelin also increases abdominal fat. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520055519.htm)

Any way you slice it, antibiotics make you fat. So, do what you have to do to heal your body if you have to take antibiotics. All the while, keep up your probiotic intake. (Make sure you don’t take probiotics within two hours of taking your antibiotic or you’ll waste your efforts.)

Then, when you’re all well again and off the antibiotics, keep taking lots of probiotics and eat probiotic-rich foods, like kimchi, real fermented sauerkraut, real fermented dill pickles, miso, yogurt, kefir, etc. You’ll soon be back to losing that temporary excess weight and abdominal fat.

Low Carb Cloud Bread

Blk & Wh James on Beach

For your protein-based, healthy fat meals there’s very little grain or bread allowed, so I searched the internet and found this recipe for bread made largely of whole eggs. The recipe takes a bit of extra time and effort, since you have to whip the egg yolks and whites separately, bake; then store the bread rounds in plastic bags overnight, but this is now my favorite low-carb bread recipe. I think in the future I’ll experiment with adding some psyllium husk, ground flax seed, or glucommanan. Enjoy!

Cloud Bread

3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons whole milk cottage cheese or 3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 gram of xylitol or other sweetener

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Separate the eggs very carefully, there must be no yolk in the white.
3. In one bowl, mix together the egg yolks, the 3 T. of Cottage Cheese OR Cream Cheese and the one packet of Sweetener until smooth.
4. In the other bowl add 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to the whites and beat the whites on high speed until they are fluffy and form nice peaks.
5. Very carefully fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until mixed, but try and not break down the fluffiness of the egg whites too much.
6. Spray two cookie sheets with fat-free cooking spray.
7. With a large spoon, “scoop” the mixture into 10 even rounds on the sheets (about the size of the top-half of the McDonalds hamburger bun; roughly 3/4 inch thick and 4 to 5 inches across).
8. Bake on the middle rack. Here is when you have to watch them, because the cooking time the same on any two batches. It is somewhere around 1/2 hour, but it could be less or more. You just need to watch them until them become nice and golden brown like a pancake.
9. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack or cutting board.
10. While warm they are crumbly and similar to cooked meringue – but don’t let this fool you! Once completely cool, seal them in a ziplock storage baggie or a tupperware overnight. They will totally change their consistency, to something much more like bread – a softer texture that is nice and chewy. If you do not like softer chewy bread, then eat them as they are, nice and crisp.

I even added some pecans, cinnamon, and xylitol to a couple of rounds and enjoyed what was very similar to a cinnamon roll.

Copied from http://www.food.com/recipe/carb-free-cloud-bread-411501

Starchy, High-Carb Vegetables vs. Non-Starchy, Low-Carb Vegetables Chart

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Because the starchy (high carbohydrate) vs. non-starchy (low carbohydrate) vegetables are so important to keep separate in the my low-carb/nonfat and healthy fats diet, I came up with yet another chart to help me keep them straight.

Here’s a recap: low-carb/nonfat meals can contain either starchy or non-starchy vegetables (although the starchy, high-carb vegetables must still be limited). Nonfat/no-starchy carbs meals and high healthy fat meals cannot contain starchy, high-carb vegetables, unless they’re strictly limited and there are no other starches or grains in the meal.

Non-Starchy Vegetables1

Starchy vegetables2

  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Yard-long beans
  • Beans (dried)
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash, winter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yams
  • Parsnips
  • Plantain
  • Taro
1 Copied from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/non-starchy-vegetables.html 2 Copied from http://www.md-health.com/Starchy-Vegetables.html

Lowfat Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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Okay, so I’m not a chef, so let me make that clear from the get-go. Also, I have been off of refined sugars for almost 8 months now (with a few innocuous weekly cheats now and then), so my sweet tooth is significantly diminished. I say this as a caveat, because I think this pie is deliciously sweet, whereas someone who’s used to eating sugar may think my recipe is pretty bland.

Lowfat Pumpkin Pie

1-1.5 cups nut/seed milk (almond or hemp)

1 T egg white

½ tsp glucommanan powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups mashed pumpkin

½ c nut flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup xylitol

¼ tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9” deep pie pan with cooking spray.
  2. Put 1st 5 ingredients in blender. Add pumpkin. Add other ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into pie pan and bake 60 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. Cool. Chill. Top with Reddi Wip.

Exercise and Nonfat/Low-Carb Meals

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I have been on this THM diet now for a little over a month. I lost 6 pounds right away and now, although I’m so glad I haven’t gained back anything, I have stalled again. I know how that goes in weight loss. Some weeks you lose weight in ounces and pounds; other weeks you lose centimeters and inches in various parts of your body. Thankfully, this stall in weight loss is not a failure, as I have lost a whole inch in my waist, hips, and upper arms! So, if you’re on this THM journey, don’t despair. When your weight loss stalls, measure yourself and you’ll likely be happily surprised with your progress!

Many of you have asked me about my daily workout regimen. I’m not an athlete and I get bored super easily, so I change what I do almost daily—which I now know is good for weight loss and muscle gain, since the body can never get stuck in a rut. I exercise six days a week for anywhere from 20-60 minutes doing anything from swimming laps at the local gym, taking ballet classes, doing pilates and yoga, walking, hiking, cycling, jogging, and HIIT Crossfit (the easier at-home versions without barbells). I love to talk, so if I can do any of the above with a friend (either in person or on the phone), it makes the time pass more quickly so I don’t get bored.

Honestly, the nonfat, low-carb meals are the least fun of weight loss foods, so I tend to avoid them. However, let me remind me of Pearl and Serene’s definition of a “Fuel Pull” meal: Fuel Pull refers to your body’s ability to pull fuel from stored fat. The meals are low in both fats and carbohydrates. Those meals, combined with exercise, push my body to the next level and help me to shed more unwanted fat and ounces (if not a full pound). And, truth be told, “Fuel Pull” snacks are some of the easiest to throw together and eat quickly, since the prep work is minimal and largely mindless.

When I have a busy day ahead, I often pack for meals on the go—great for those all-day shopping trips or long commutes. My on-the-go go-to “Fuel Pull” meal plan is often as follows:

Breakfast: “Fuel Pull” chocolate glucommanan smoothie

Snack: handful of nuts and some celery sticks

Lunch: Wasa crackers spread with Laughing Cow or Weight Watchers cheese, topped with turkey breast, lettuce and slices of tomato or cucumber. Sometimes I add slices of avocado too—but don’t go over ½ an avocado in one meal.

Snack: glass container of nonfat Greek yogurt, xylitol, cocoa powder, and strawberries (stored in a cooler)

Dinner: skim mozzarella cheese wrapped in a slice of turkey breast with any type of easy-to-eat “FP” vegetable (cucumber spears, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, etc.), and either more avocado or some low-fat, low sugar, low carb mayonnaise.

Dessert: If I have some “FP” cake or brownie made up ahead of time I’ll take that with me, but otherwise I eat another of my strawberry yogurt blends. The cocoa powder helps to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

Looking back over my food diary, no matter how busy I have been or how much I have eaten on my “FP” days, I have never failed to lose between .5 and 1 pound –even when I mixed things up and ate a non-“Fuel Pull” meal somewhere in there. I can’t complain about that!

THM “Fuel Pull” Tuna Wraps Recipe

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If you’re used to reading my blog, you’ll know I am a long-time fan of probiotic-rich foods. For Trim Healthy Mama “Fuel Pull” days I like to make tuna sandwiches wrapped in lettuce. Here’s my simple recipe:

THM Fuel Pull Tuna Wraps

 Ingredients:

1 can of tuna (or salmon)

1 tsp.  light mayonnaise (optional)

2 T nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tsp kefir, plain

2 T “real” probiotic-rich sauerkraut (homemade or from a whole foods, health food store/section)

1 T “real” probiotic-rich dill pickle relish (from a whole foods or health food store/section)

Seasoning to taste (sea salt, pepper, Italian, etc.)

1 large lettuce leaf

Method:

Mix all and spread in a lettuce leaf. Add strips of red bell pepper, a little nonfat mozzarella cheese, sunflower seeds or some additional sauerkraut, if you’d like. Wrap in the lettuce leaf and eat.

Note: I also like making creamy, ranch-style “E” salad dressings with all of the above except the tuna and lettuce leaf.

Comparison of THM “S” Foods to other Diets

Nourishing Traditions book photo

In comparing the “Trim, Healthy Mama” (THM) diet to other diets out there,  I find that the “Satisfying S” foods are similar in many ways to the healthy fats and proteins of the following diets: GAPS, Paleo, Nourishing Traditions, The Maker’s Diet, and The Schwarzbein Principle.

The biggest difference is that THM would not allow certain starchy carbohydrates to be eaten with the fats–at least, as long as you’re trying to lose weight. For the same reason, THM authors advise never eating fruits or fruit-like vegetables with your “S” meals if weight loss is your goal. That means tomatoes are not allowed. Also, they advise not eating nuts or avocados in “Deep S” weight loss meals, so almond flour, peanut flour, and substituting avocados for butter or oil are out. After you lose the weight and want to maintain, you’re free to add in “S Helpers” like tomatoes, almond flour, peanut flour and even grains with your “S” meals.

One thing I have noticed is that it’s easy to find low-carb “E” and “Fuel Pull” recipes on the internet, but “S” and “Deep S” recipes are more of a challenge–mainly because fats–even healthy ones–are still seen by many as unhealthy.

Here are a few examples of “S” recipes and substitutes:

  1. Pesto pasta with meatballs smothered in cheeses, but the pasta has to be made of zucchini or spaghetti squash or maybe  glucomannan “miracle” noodles or kelp noodles (I cheat and use pine nuts as S Helpers in my pesto.)
  2. Deep-fried donuts dipped in powdered Truvia or xylitol and maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon or cocoa powder, but the donuts would have to be made of something low-carbohydrate and non-nut, like coconut flour, flax meal and psyllium husks.
  3. Ice cream made with cream cheese, THM skinny chocolate chunks, THM-approved sweetener, and maybe some butter or coconut butter. Mix, freeze and eat as ice cream. (I haven’t tried this yet, so if it’s bad, I’ll remove it from the list; if they’re good, I’ll leave it.)

*Note: I know that raw nuts and seeds are promoted as being super healthy–and they usually are–but the high phytate levels therein can cause kidney problems, so sometimes roasted is better–or just eliminating nuts and seeds and substituting other ingredients. You can pre-soak seeds and nuts in water and a little yogurt, but it’s such a bother, I don’t do it anymore.

My THM Diet Progress

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The THM diet is truly amazing. Out of curiosity I looked back over my past years’ records posted to SparkPeople.com. Just as I thought—on the days I ate THM-style meals, I lost weight and almost every one of those meals happened to be a “Deep E” meal. I tried some high healthy fat meals, but they were all mixed with carbs, so it’s no wonder I never lost weight. At least I finally know the reason behind all that gaining, losing and stalling!

Now that I have discovered the key to THM’s meal cycling plan, I am enjoying “S” meals filled with satisfying, healthy fats. Bring on the yummy, fatty, healthy oils and let me live off the “fat of the land!” I’m feeling more full and less hungry. My cravings are much lower with “S” meals. (The glucomannan recipes are a big help.)

I have never enjoyed any diet more than this one, because it is so successful! Another discovery: I’m losing more weight more rapidly when I eat about 2 “Deep S” meals and 1 “Deep E” (refuel) meal per day…and I stall or gain weight every single time I “cheat” with the slightest bit of starchy carbohydrate eaten with a fat. Lessons learned. Everyone is different, of course, so you might not want or need the same combinations of foods, but experiment and see what works for you! You have a good chance of really figuring out what works and what doesn’t with the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan.

THM “Crossover” Foods

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 “Crossover” meals are like “S Helper” meals in that they are weight maintenance meals; not weight loss meals. They don’t allow for weight loss, but they are designed to keep you from gaining back weight you’ve already lost.

Crossover meals are important. Serene and Pearl claim that their “S” and “E” meal plans work so well that even when you reach your desired weight you may keep losing weight unless you incorporate some Crossover meals. (Boy, how I would love to have that problem! Maybe someday soon I’ll be writing about that?) Crossovers are protein-based, but incorporate a balance of E and S foods.

“Crossover” meals give you more food variety, yet are designed to ensure that your blood sugar never spikes too high and that your body will not burn your own body fat. Serene and Pearl write in their book, “Your body will first burn the glucose from the starch in the meal, then it will burn the fat contained in the meal.” There is no weight loss involved in a Crossover meal.

One thing you need to remember is that every one of the THM meals is protein-based. In fact, the authors warn, “Continue to adhere to the good advice to not eat more than two pieces of bread at a time, no matter what stage of this plan you are on.” They also explain that, even once you reach your goal weight, you can never eat a carb-centered meal and expect to maintain your weight.

I have not yet purposely attempted a “Crossover” meal on the THM diet, they reflect the way I’ve been eating all my life—and what kept me from losing weight for so many years. In looking back over my meals these past few weeks of trying the THM weight loss plan, I see that I accidentally ate Crossover meals on certain days of this THM diet and that explains why I did not lose weight on those days. (Great discovery and so easy to get back on track!)

Crossovers are basically healthy, clean meals, but they contain that weight stalling combination of fats and carbs that the THM diet so carefully separates. In case you forgot, I’ll reiterate here: You cannot eat a fat with a starchy carb and lose weight. I now look at fat-carb combinations as deadly and I will only (purposely) try Crossovers once I have reached my goal weight (which is only 9 pounds away now).

Examples of “Crossover” Meals

Meals

E & S Foods

E Foods

S Foods

Meal Example 1:

Beef and Vege Stir Fry

Leafy green salad

Vegetables, quinoa or rice

Cheddar cheese, creamy dressing, beef, coconut oil

Meal Example 2:

Turkey Sandwich

Lettuce

Sprouted bread, turkey breast, tomato slices, nuts

Butter, cheese

Snack Example 3:

Apple

 

Apple, peanut butter

Cheddar cheese

Meal/Snack

Example 4:

Corn chips

 

Whole grain corn chips, salsa, beans

Cheese, sour cream, full-fat Greek yogurt

Meal Example 5:

Baked Sweet Potato

 

Baked sweet potato, chili beans

Cheddar cheese, sour cream, ground beef

 

THM “S Helper” Foods

quinoa photo (quinoa)

I’ll tell you about “S Helper” foods, but first a few personal notes….

I am about three weeks into the Trim Healthy Mama diet and, although I’ve had a couple of errors (and I know why, as noted in former blogs), my progress continues to be steady overall and I’m completely amazed! It’s slow at only .1-.3 pounds per day, but after being stalled and unable to budge the scale for so long, I’m happy with any progress at all!

People have asked me if adding workouts have helped me to lose weight. The answer is no. I have been doing about the same level of exercise for the past several years and haven’t altered my plan during my THM regimen. I get bored easily, so I change things up a lot. Some days I walk, hike or jog (or a combination of all three) for 30-60 minutes, some days I do a short 10-20 minute HIIT Crossfit-style workout, sometimes I take a one-hour ballet class, and sometimes I’ll swim laps for 30-60 minutes. I work out 5-6 days per week. Despite all that exercise, I worked super hard on dieting years and saw very little progress until I started on the THM food cycling plan.

I followed the THM weight loss cycle for about three weeks before attempting to experiment with “S Helpers.” I’m finding that I’m most consistently losing the most weight and keeping it off when I stick to more “Deep S” days. This is surprising to me, because the foods are so rich, creamy, and delicious with all the chocolates and puddings, creamy sauces, coconut milk smoothies, etc. All the foods are filling, yet the numbers on the scale keep going down! It’s nothing short of miraculous! In fact, I thank God every day, because it has been a huge frustration in my life to try all the “right” ways of eating that seem to work for everyone else but me. Now I finally know that–at least for me–eating the right foods in the right combination is the key to weight loss and weight maintenance.

About “S Helpers”

In their THM book, Serene and Pearl explain that S Helpers are carefully selected, THM-approved carbohydrates and healthy starches added to “S” meal plans. They do not recommend them until you’ve gotten good at following the THM weight loss plans for at least two months. Well, I guess I’ve cheated a little in this regard, because I tried some “S Helper” meals before I reached the two month point. I agree with the THM authors that adding “S Helper” carbohydrates to “S” or “Deep S” meals will slow your weight loss. That’s definitely what happened to me. However, I also agree that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the loss is steady and consistent.

Here is a List of Approved “S Helper” Foods:

  1. 1 piece of sprouted Trader Joe’s, or Ezekiel bread, or 1 thin slice of homemade sourdough bread, or ½ piece of homemade regular whole wheat bread
  2. 1 medium Trim Healthy Pancake or Pan Bread
  3. ¼ -½ cup of cooked quinoa (it’s more gentle on blood sugar than most other grains)
  4. ¼ cup (no more) of cooked brown rice or other starchy grain (it’s harder on blood sugar)
  5. ¼ -½ cup of cooked oatmeal
  6. 1 extra small serving of fruit, such as ½ apple, ½ orange, or 1 mandarin
  7. ¼ -½ cup of cooked beans (you can use a more liberal and generous ½ cup serving of chana dahl)

Note: My “S Helper” was a handful of sweet potato chips. Serene and Pearl don’t even list sweet potatoes as S Helpers, but I was able to add a few and still continue to lose weight.