Friday, February 22, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama: a book review

Usual disclaimer:  I have no monetary interest in this book, nor do I receive any sort of remuneration for this review.

Our daughter shared this book with us when we had our Christmas together.  Wick ordered it.  I read it.  We are trying to eat a new way: not new foods, for the most part, but a different way of combining certain foods.

Basically, the idea is that within each meal there should be a source of good protein, and either plenty of fats or a higher amount of carbs.

The theory is that one should not combine large amounts of carbs with large amounts of fats.

The authors, sisters Pearl and Serene, use a friendly, chatty style to convey their messages.   Sometimes it feels like sitting in their living room, listening in on their lively conversations.

The overriding message for me is to be more thoughtful about what I eat, focusing mainly on unprocessed foods, instead of depending on pre-made, prepared foods, or going through the drive-through.

The sisters have a long history of searching for healthier ways of eating, from vegan to raw foods.  They share their experiences honestly, both successes and failures, and their research is ongoing.

They begin with sharing their Biblical view of how God intended for humans to eat, and near the end of the book even address hormones, sex, and relationships.

It took me several readings to feel that I was coming even close to understanding how the way of eating works.  I still struggle with when to eat S (satisfying, or higher fat) meals and snacks, and when to eat E (energy, or higher carb) meals and snacks.  I keep going back to the book, and gain a little each time.

For me there are only a couple of issues.  First is the lack of specific guidelines for S or E meals.  The only time I can find a mention of specific carb counts is very near the end of the book.  The sisters say that they do not want their readers to be constantly counting calories, fats, or carbs, but I at least need a little more of a specific guideline.

Second, regarding the recipes:  They are good.  However, the format is problematic for me.  There is a list of ingredients at the top, followed by numbered steps for preparation.  Here is my problem:  due to mobility issues, I try to gather all the ingredients on the table so I can sit down and prepare.  It is frustrating to get half-way through the steps, only to find that a required ingredient was left off the list at the top.

Another recipe issue concerns amounts, which are often vague or unstated.  Since the recipes involve several ingredients with which I was totally unfamiliar, I have no idea where to even start seasoning "to taste".  I had never used stevia, Truvia, Glucommanan, almond meal, or flax meal.  I had no idea how they would react in a recipe, or how to adjust if the taste or texture was off.  The ingredients are quite expensive to waste and then throw away if something does not turn out well.

It is possible to eat according to plan without the special ingredients, but meals will be somewhat limited and could get boring.  The recipes and the special ingredients expand options, and make meals and snacks much more varied and interesting.

Of the two sisters, Serene is the purist, and Pearl is more ... um ... liberal.  Serene will go to great lengths to eat purely, whereas Pearl is more willing to allow shortcuts and time savers.  For example, Serene refuses to use a microwave oven, while Pearl freely zaps her recipes.

We have both found our blood sugars are more stable than before.  We are looking forward to our next lab visit to see how other numbers, such as cholesterol, have reacted.

If you are looking for a 20-pounds-in-20-days weight loss plan, this is not for you.  It is a way of eating to be healthy and fit, with weight loss as a sort of side effect.  Results for us have varied.  In just over five weeks, I have lost four pounds, while Wick has lost ten.  Yes we want to lose weight.  But more than that, we want to be healthier.

We have tried literally hundreds of diets in our lifetime, trying to lose weight.  Losing is often not so much a problem and maintaining the loss.  Most diets don't give much explanation for maintaining.  One is either losing, or going off the diet and then regaining.

I realize some will say that I have not fully explained the content of the book.  I did not intend to.  I am merely making some random observations of what to me is important about this book and these sisters.  They make me laugh; they make me cry;  they give me hope.

For the first time, Wick says this is a way of eating he can do for the rest of his life.  I feel the same.

If you decide you are interested, you can not only get the soft-cover printed book, but also the electronic version.  And once you have read the book, you will want to check out the Facebook sites for ongoing support.

Authours: Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.  Publisher: Prescott Publishing.  ISBN: 978-938945-00-7.