The Trim Healthy Mama Plan: Inside the Bestselling Diet

The Trim Healthy Mama Plan: Inside the Bestselling Diet

Photo: Penguin Random House

When sisters Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison first devised the concept for the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, they were both desperate for a new solution to their food woes. While Barrett wanted to lose weight and drop about two sizes from her frame, Allison was underweight and bloated, after subjecting herself to an extreme raw foods diet.

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“We’d been on all the hard diets, all the fad diets, we’d tried everything and in the end our health was definitely lacking. We were just so done,” says Barrett. The sisters began searching for a new solution — and after exhaustive research, they finally landed on something that worked. “As soon as we found a sane and simple approach we were like, ‘Yee-haw, grandma!’ We had to tell the world,” Allison recalls.

The Basics of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan

If you’ve fallen prey to diets advising you to shun carbs, fat or sugar entirely, you’ll be happy to know that on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, no food groups are banned. The concept is fairly simple. You’re allowed to eat protein, veggies, carbs and fat — as long as you avoid eating both carbs and fat in the same meal. “When you’re going to do healthy carbs, pull back the fats,” Barrett says, “Or when you’re going to do healthy fats, pull back the carbs. Then, when you stick it out, weight loss naturally happens.” Though neither Barrett nor Allison have a formal background in nutrition, they say their plan can balance your blood sugar levels, help you learn how to manage your calorie intake and naturally enable your body to burn more fat.

“We’re about celebrating food. We just do it in a way that’s kind to our hips.”

The sisters experimented on themselves and discovered that their approach helped Barrett lose her unwanted pounds — while giving Allison a new approach to healthy eating that was sustainable and nutritious. In 2012, they self-published the original 640-page Trim Healthy Mama book. Despite zero dollars spent on advertising, word spread — and the book became a New York Times bestseller.

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The newest versions of their book, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan and the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook go on sale September 15, 2015. “People who loved a good read loved our first book, but other people were like, ‘This book is too long — you talk too much!’ In this new book we’re giving them the basics,” Allison says.

Finding Freedom in Food

The most important thing to know about the Trim Healthy Mama Plan is that it is not a ‘get slim quick’ solution. “We promise people they may lose no weight in the first month!” Allison says.

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Despite that disclaimer, many readers say they do shed pounds — with testimonials on the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page revealing stories of women losing anywhere from 10 to 150 pounds on the plan. Part of the reason the diet works might just be the gentle approach it takes to eating. “My advice is give yourself lots of grace. Don’t expect to be perfect on the first day; it’s going to take you a few weeks,” Barrett says.

Barrett and Allison encourage the occasional indulgence, and say the plan is doable whether you’re a home chef and food purist, as Allison describes herself, or for those who occasionally succumb to the lure of the drive-through window, like Barrett. While the book isn’t packed with scientific studies backing the diet’s efficacy, their mission is clear: smart, sustainable food choices, aka everything in moderation. “We’re about celebrating food. We just do it in a way that’s kind to our hips,” Barrett says.

Though both women are indeed mamas, they say that the plan isn’t meant exclusively for mothers. “This is a plan for people who stink at diets,” Allison says. “If you pick up this book and think ‘I stink at diets,’ this is a plan you cannot fail on — because you’re allowed to fail.”