Monday, February 24, 2014

My review of Trim Healthy Mama (THM) - The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good: The concept of separating carbs and fats for weight loss is effective, sustainable, and healthy.

The bad: The Frankensweeteners and stevia recommended as "natural" sugar alternatives can cause serious harm, including miscarriage and infertility.

The ugly: The authors of the book and those running the THM  boards on Facebook and elsewhere do not want this information to become public.

Read on below for an in-depth review of the book, the concept behind it, its potential pitfalls, and how to actually make it work AND be healthy doing so.



Maybe you have heard about the latest "rage" in weight loss - the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) book by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. The book came out about 18 months ago, and has gained popularity especially over the past year. So much so, that Amazon regularly sells out of it completely. 

The good:

Most weight loss plans follow one of the following ideas: 

(1) Reduce overall caloric intake. This causes the metabolism to slow down, stalling weight loss. It is also hard to sustain, as the human body is not programmed to run on empty for extended periods of time. People struggling with weight in the first place likely will not have the will power to consume less calories than they are needing for months or even years to reach their goal weight. It's easy to fall off the wagon, and yo-yo dieting ensues.

(2) Cut out fats. Eating healthy fats is CRUCIAL not only for overall health, hormone balance, and brain function, but it is also an integral part of losing weight. People do not get fat from eating healthy fats. In fact, quite the contrary is true. Of course, modern, altered "fats" such as margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and other denatured products are very unhealthy, but they should not be allowed to give fats in general a bad name.

(3) Cut out carbohydrates. While an over-consumption of simple carbs is the main culprit behind excess weight, carbs should not be cut out from the diet entirely. "Give us this day our daily bread" in the Lord's prayer should put that issue to bed for good. Again, as with fats, there is a huge difference between healthy carbs, and those that are, indeed, destructive to good health.

The basic weight loss concept underlying the Trim Healthy Mama book falls into none of the above categories. The authors recognize that healthy, traditional fats play a crucial part in achieving and maintaining healthy weight, and do a good job of explaining this. Likewise, they do not advocate for "low carb" or "paleo/primal" diets, because they know that carbs play an important role in fueling our bodies. 

They then go on to explain quite nicely how our bodies respond to both types of primary fuel - carbs and fats - and how the metabolizing of them interferes with one another. 

Their conclusion for weight loss, in a nutshell, is this: do not consume fats and carbs in the same meal. To be more specific, a fat-fueled meal (called an "S" meal in the book for "satisfying") should contain no more than 10 g of net carbs, while a carb-fueled meal (called an "E" meal for "energizing") should contain no more than 5 g of fat. 

Furthermore, not just any carbs and fats are plan approved. Denatured Frankenfats are out, while butter is promoted (rightfully so). Simple carbs, even in "healthy" forms such as juice, are not "on plan" - only complex carbs that have been properly prepared through soaking and/or sprouting and/or sourdough fermentation are allowed. 

Some others have criticized the program, saying it is incompatible with a whole foods lifestyle, but I have to disagree on that point. The plan can be as packed with whole foods as one wants it to be. Remember, the only critical underlying premise is not to mix carbs and fats in the same meal. One could easily make their own sourdough or sprouted bread, make their own almond milk, etc. Likewise, instead of using egg whites from a carton, one could simply separate their own, homegrown eggs, and use the yolks in another meal. There is nothing inherently "denatured" to the program itself, though some of the foods that are recommended or included in the recipes call for weird ingredients, such as "defatted peanut flour" or a highly processed type of whey protein. There is absolutely no need to choose those particular recipes. 

For the vast majority of people, even if they decide to use some of the stranger ingredients suggested, the "on plan" foods will still be a great improvement from the standard American diet. In fact, even just cutting out liquid carbs and other simple starches like pasta will do wonders for their waistline.

As far as the recipes in the book go - they are a good starting point for getting ideas, but taste-wise, they are mostly "meh" at best. The THM Pinterest page, however, is packed with wonderful recipe ideas from all over the web, as are numerous other websites such as Gwen's Nest.

Should you buy the book? Maybe. If you have never read "Nourishing Traditions," or books such as "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" that debunk modern food myths, Trim Healthy Mama will help teach you about nutrition. 

However, please be warned not to jump into the program both feet first until you read the rest of this post.

The bad:

I have already mentioned that some of the ingredient suggestions are a little fad-ish, but whatever - they are not integral to the program at all.

My one, big, huge, main problem with the THM program is with the supposedly healthy and safe sweeteners that are "on plan". While the authors correctly speak out against artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, aspartame, etc., they then go on to allow only two types of sweeteners for the THM plan:

(1) Hydrogenated sugar alcohols, i.e. xylitol and erythritol. These are about as healthy and natural as their names suggest. Their safety (or rather lack thereof) has already been covered in other articles readily available online, such as Natural News, Crunchy Betty, and The Healthy Home Economist. So for the sake of time, I will just point my readers to those resources readily available online.

(2) Stevia. This singular ingredient is really what is giving me a bad taste for the whole program, and why I am reluctant to recommend it to anyone without going into a big speech explaining why the on plan sweeteners are to be avoided, and how to substitute for them.

Before I go off on stevia specifically, I would like to address the problems associated with any zero-calorie sweetener, no matter how "natural" it claims to be, or even may be. From aspartame to stevia, and everything in between, sweet foods that are not accompanied by actual carbohydrates wreak havoc on human metabolism. Our bodies are programmed to expect carb-based fuels when we taste something sweet. Accordingly, the body prepares for this by releasing insulin, and getting ready to metabolize the incoming fuel. Which may never come, if we are really just downing a diet soda, or coffee sweetened with stevia. Again, this topic has been covered by others extensively, such as on Empowered Sustenance. It is a well-known fact that sugar-free foods cause weight gain, as evidenced by overweight people everywhere guzzling diet sodas.

But back to stevia. It's an herb, so it's natural, which automatically means it's healthy, right? WRONG. Arsenic is a natural substance, too. As are many other poisons, venoms, and toxins.

Stevia, like a number of other herbs, has traditionally been known to cause infertility in both men and women. So much so, that women in South America (where this plant grows) were known to drink it as tea as a form of birth control. 

But unfortunately, it doesn't end there. The reality is, that stevia, like a number of other herbs, can and does act as an abortifacient, or an "implantation preventer." I recently blogged about herbs of this type in my post "Sarah, the Healthy Home Abortionist." If one believes that life begins at conception (as we do), use of such herbs during the reproductive years of a woman's life should be out of the question. 

Will every pregnancy end in miscarriage if you use stevia? No. Will stevia cause all women to become infertile? No. Some women are affected by herbs more than others. In fact, ironically, the healthier you are going into it, the more effectively your body will respond to herbs. Some women are affected more than others specifically by stevia because of the fact that it is in the ragweed family. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, chances are stevia will affect you worse than those who do not suffer from these allergies. Since we cannot know exactly how it affects each of us individually, we should just stay away from it altogether, rather than playing Russian roulette with the lives of our unborn. Just because your cycles are starting on time, does not mean you didn't have a "silent" miscarriage due to the damage done to your hormone levels (an aspect well explained in the article on Empowered Sustenance), and thus your reproductive system, by stevia.

Another common, negative side effect of stevia stems from the fact that it lowers blood pressure. While this may be great for those suffering from hypertension, people with naturally low blood pressure such as myself may find that stevia lowers their blood pressure to the point where they experience headaches, start seeing black spots, have tunnel vision, or even black out. This in spite of the book's claim that: 

(Page 184)

The ugly:

I really was not looking forward to writing this part, but feel it has become necessary because of the growing popularity of the THM program. 

Time and again, the question comes up in various THM groups on Facebook of whether or not the plan-approved sweeteners are really safe. These type of discussions are always, without exception, quickly dismissed along the lines of "Yes, they are, and it's all covered in xyz the spot"


The fact of the matter is that the THM book only very briefly touches on the safety concerns regarding stevia, in a total of 2 paragraphs. The only source they point their readers to verify the safety of stevia is the website www.stevia.net - I am certain there is nothing partial on that site, right? By that same token, why not go to www.splenda.com and read all about how healthy and beneficial their artificial sweetener is, complete with "scientific studies" to prove their point. 


(page 183 and 184)

I have talked to a number of women who directly blame stevia for their inability to become pregnant, or for a miscarriage - myself being one of them. The authors' above claim to the contrary is either not true, or they are simply shutting these women down before giving them a chance to explain their point. 

The question specifically of whether or not stevia causes miscarriage is shut down and deleted from any public discussion almost immediately. Even on threads where members specifically ask, "Is this safe? What are everyone's experiences?" other members are not allowed to weigh in with any advice that contradicts the "stevia is safe" dogma, not even if they accompany it with saying something along the lines of "the plan is great, it works if you use raw honey or maple syrup, but I, too, do not feel that stevia is safe, and think it may be to blame for infertility or miscarriage." One of the administrators, who deleted all my comments on the thread (all of which repeatedly stated that the program itself is great, and effective, but that stevia should be avoided), wrote to tell me that: 

I will not allow any other posts like the ones I've removed to stay up on the board, because it plants unnecessary and unfounded seeds of fear in the minds of other ladies.

Hm, where have I heard that lingo before... Oh, that's right, it's the same line the pro-GMO companies use. "We can't label foods as containing GMOs, because it will unnecessarily frighten consumers." I guess the THM administrators do not think their readers are smart enough to be presented with both sides of an issue, and come to a conclusion for themselves. If stevia is so safe and harmless, there is nothing to fear. If I told you bananas cause infertility and miscarriage, the National Banana Board would at best get a laugh out of me, but certainly not go on a crusade to shut down all such claims by anyone. If doubts need to be hidden and scrubbed in a concerted effort to silence them, maybe there is a reason they keep "persistently popping up," as the authors themselves put it. Maybe, just maybe, there is truth in it? 

The same administrator also told me: 
The allegations you're making against the use of stevia are so far as I can tell based simply on anecdotal evidence alone.  
Anecdotal - maybe. Sort of like the author declaring stevia as safe because both herself, as well as other ladies she knows, became pregnant while using stevia. People also become pregnant while taking birth control pills, or having IUDs in place, both of which are much stronger and more effective than stevia. All scientific research starts out with anecdotal indications for or against an issue, which is what then motivates a closer examination by way of a study. Seeing as we live in a society that by and large heavily promotes birth control, and does not think that life begins at conception, I do not think that there are any laboratories, universities, or research labs interested in spending time and money to find out just how stevia affects the uterine lining, and what percentage of women will suffer a "silent abortion," in a country where thousands of babies are consciously aborted every single day. This information is hard to come by for birth control pills, whose express purpose is the prevention and interruption of pregnancy - how much more so for an herb that few people care at all about?

The truth of the matter is that there is virtually no research available on how stevia affects fertility and the female reproductive system, either negatively or positively. We are, therefore, forced to come to a decision based on anecdotal evidence, rather than to simply assume it's safe. Shouldn't the burden of proof be on them to show that stevia does NOT negatively impact fertility, and cause miscarriage? There are only two publicly available studies that investigate the effects of stevia on fertility, and both came to the conclusion that it reduces fertility.

To be fair, I would like to mention that there are a number of women who follow the THM plan, lose large amounts of weight, overcome PCOS, and as a result, are able to become pregnant. Clearly, not all women miscarry every pregnancy if consuming any amount of stevia. Like I said, for the majority of women, overcoming their addiction to simple carbs, and adding healthy fats to the diet, will greatly improve their overall health. But this does not negate the fact that stevia is still harmful. It's just the least of a severely overweight person's health problems.

From my own anecdotal evidence, I used stevia very sparingly (every few days in small amounts) for about 4 or 5 weeks, before discontinuing its use because it was making my blood pressure drop dangerously low, to the point where I was on the verge of passing out every time I used stevia. In spite of my very minimal consumption of it, I suffered TWO early miscarriages in two consecutive cycles, once while still using stevia, and the second shortly after discontinuing it. I know miscarriages are common and occur for a number of reasons, but in all our married years (13 and counting), we had only suffered two other miscarriages, and one of those was caused by recently having come off birth control pills. It was not until the second miscarriage that I started to put the puzzle pieces together, mostly due to other people pointing out their "ancedotal" connection of stevia and miscarriage.

I have since talked to many other women who reported being unable to become pregnant while consuming any amount of stevia, no matter how small, and who got pregnant immediately after discontinuing it. The THM group on Facebook for pregnant and nursing moms is replete with stories of moms who report having a miscarriage, many of them habitually. One time, 5 of the 6 posts at the top of the wall were about a mom just having had a miscarriage while "on plan," which presumably involves stevia. While I am not at all claiming that all these are caused by stevia, or that the mothers are to blame, it definitely should give us pause. True, among a group of people who generally embrace fertility and large families, there will inevitably be more miscarriages, simply because there will be more pregnancies - but even accounting for that, the THM boards seem to have an abnormally high rate of miscarriage.This has been pointed out time and again by other people, not just me - but like mine, their comments always get deleted.

Why would the authors want to hide this controversy? In a word, because it's inconvenient. It would fly in the face of their religious belief that life begins at conception, so they would be forced to deal with it if it were true. Not being able to use stevia would make it much more complicated to explain and implement their plan. Just as there is a difference between good fats and bad, there is a world of difference between real, raw honey, and the stuff sold at grocery stores. Furthermore, it would be hard to come up with scrumptious, fat-laden desserts that only use minimal amounts of sweets (carbs). Stevia allows sugar-addicted American palates to "have their cake and eat it, too"

Their highly popular book, that they put so much time and work into, would need to be majorly revised, which may kill it altogether.

Plus, the authors are in the process of releasing their own line of stevia sweeteners. 

Ignorance is bliss in their situation. What they don't know CAN hurt them, and the ladies they lead on to believe that stevia is safe.

To click here to read "4 Reasons Why I'm not a Trim, Healthy Mama" by the Nourishing Herbalist. Lots of interesting info in that post, too.


The healthy alternative: real, whole, low-glycemic sweeteners in moderate amounts

Like I said at the beginning of this post, the basic underlying concept of separating carbs and fats is very effective. I have recommended the program to a number of people, all of which have seen great success with it, whether or not they use only plan-approved sweeteners. 

My recommendation is to use raw honey or grade B maple syrup for all E meals, and in moderate amounts (up to 1 tsp per serving) for S meals. This will not interfere with the effectiveness of the program at all, and you will be able to successfully and relatively painlessly lose weight following these basic principles. The biggest challenge are desserts - they need to be S to be tasty and decadent as one would expect a dessert to be, but that means they cannot contain too much honey or the meal will be carb-laden. Making S treats only occasionally (as in, every few days), even if they contain more than the 1 tsp of honey I recommend, will not throw you off plan. Also, your palate will adjust to needing less and less sweetness the more the sugar addiction is broken. Or, switch to E desserts, which are harder to find recipes for, but can be just as tasty.

I myself am currently on the program, not with the goal of losing weight, but maintaining my current weight for the rest of this pregnancy. When we found out I was expecting twins, I was told to gain 50-70 lbs. I typically gain about 25-30, so this was a shocker, but I followed the advice because our smaller baby was only getting a fraction of the food I was eating due to his poor cord insertion. Well, when he passed away at 20 weeks, I had already gained 40 lbs. There really is no need for me to gain any more. In fact, I find that when I follow the program, I end up eating way more calories than when I'm off plan, simply because being on plan makes my metabolism run in high gear, so I know baby is getting enough even though I am not gaining (as also evidenced by his excellent growth and health based on ultrasound exams). Actually, if I stay on program all day, every day, I quickly lose weight even while pregnant, and that while using raw honey and grade B maple syrup whenever I like. So every few days, I have to get off program and consume meals that contain both carbs and fats, even simple carbs, just to stay with my goal of maintaining rather than losing.

Another tweak that I have made while pregnant is to continue drinking fresh, whole, raw milk, which is always "off plan." Milk contains large amounts of lactose (which is a type of sugar, and therefore a carb), as well as fat. As such, it is by definition not compatible with the THM plan. However, not only does raw milk have a low glycemic index, I think that drinking it is important because I am pregnant, and milk is crucial for growing babies. My own "rule" for using milk and still losing weight is to use 1/2 cup or less for S meals, or count it as an E food if I have more than 1/2 cup. I also do not consume more than 1 cup at a time. Following these guidelines, like I said, has not stood in the way of weight loss for me. When I am not expecting, I do not drink fresh milk, but rather make my own kefir from raw milk. That way, all the benefits of drinking raw milk are preserved, while the lactose has been removed by way of fermentation. For people with digestive issues, drinking soured milk (i.e. kefir) rather than fresh milk is a much better option, anyway. 

In conclusion, the plan works. In fact, it works very well, it works fast, and going from being "on plan" to just a regular, whole foods diet (NOT the standard American diet) that contains both fats and carbs in the same meal will not make you regain the lost weight, but rather just maintain your current weight. You will be able to have bacon and eggs for breakfast one day, oatmeal the next, and all sorts of other satisfying foods that will keep you from feeling hungry or deprived. As such, it is the near perfect diet plan - just so long you stay away from the at best questionable "on plan" sweeteners. Your palate may need to adjust to not craving sweets and simple carbs all the time, but eventually, if the weight loss is going to be permanent, this is a necessary component anyway. 

Please do weigh in below with your experiences on the program, with the issues surrounding the sweeteners I mentioned, or anything else that would be valuable to this discussion. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Edited to add: Please see my follow-up post on this topic, "Stevia is safe - OR ELSE!"



116 comments:

  1. Brilliant post!! The thoughts of using any of the "frankensweetners", "defatted peanut flour" or "carton egg whites", makes me want to gag - bleurgh!

    However, I like your whole food (and sensible) approach to this plan, especially with the inclusion of raw whole milk. I have seen *MANY* THM recipes on the internet and they do look/sound yummy, but at present, I'm not thinking of getting "on plan". That said, I loved this article, appreciate the time you spent researching and putting it together, and am very glad you shared it...especially when innocent, unborn lives may be at stake!

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    1. What's wrong with carton egg whites?

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  2. I was on the THM plan to lose the last few bits of weight from my pregnancies. I did consume stevia...I had two miscarriages, in a row as a matter of fact. I read that the herb could cause miscarriages and was used in other countries sometimes as a birth control. I quit the whole program because when I asked around, everyone pointed to the book and said it was safe and that the had never heard of it causing miscarriages, save a handful of others who also had quit the program. I am glad you have this information out there.

    I did get pregnant about three months after that last miscarriage and being off of stevia those three months as well.

    I might have to try the plan again but I sold my book so who knows! Oh, I did lose weight that I wanted to, so that was a plus.

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  3. I had never heard that about Stevia. I currently use one packet of Truvia (or store brand organic equivalent) every day. My husband & I have not been able to conceive since our last child (who is now over 2.5 years old). I think I need to get serious about cutting out all the junk (including now apparently Stevia) and see if that changes anything. Thanks for the info. God bless you and your family!

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  4. Thank you for being brave enough to keep standing up and sharing these things! I've been trying to follow the basics of the THM plan to help me lose and keep of unwanted weight, but have been uneasy about several things, especially the sweeteners. I will continue to research and learn what I can and appreciate your input!

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  5. My one question would be, what kind of stevia is causing the miscarriages? Is it the refined stuff you can buy? Are you sure it doesn't have any other stuff mixed in it? ... Seems like there are people who can have it and it doesn't cause any harm, and there are others who can't. But the same goes for milk.... I know someone who drank lots of milk during pregnancy and her baby almost died after birth because of serious milk allergies, seems the lots of milk she consumed during pregnancy cause baby to be overly allergic (baby is grown and still allergic to milk as an adult).
    Many of the women on this plan don't want children anyway or are having a hard time losing the baby weight they have put on all these years, (or menopausal). You know there are women who can't use Red raspberry leaf for labor preparation and there are women who have used it for centuries. So I say do what you find works best for you and your body.
    I am not wishing to debate as I am open to what you have to say and am listening. But these are questions that I have been just wondering if you could or know of any more research. I have read two sides to the stevia thing from more than THM. The one very convincing article I read said that the claims about the stevia being an abortificant is totally unfounded and that what they say about those South American women isn't actually the full truth. I have qualms about the xylitol and erythitol too but they plainly state Serene wouldn't eat those... so that makes us pure eating people think two times before using it. But I am very happy to see that you have found out how to incorporate honey and maple syrup into your weight loss and it works great for you. This is something I have been wondering about. I know I can't really use honey much (it makes me feel yucky afterwards) and don't much about how maple syrup treats me. Just asking for more conclusive information.

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    1. agree. If you actually read the book. it says to only use pure stevia or one that is combined with the two mentioned. most people are probably getting stevia off the shelf which has maltodextrin, sugar etc mixed with it. Xylitol, and Erythitol in large doses may have issues, but since Doctors are pushing this for their diabetic patients I would wonder if the research here is more personal based than fact. And the South American rumor story has debunked quite a bit.

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  6. Out of curiosity, do you have any proof from a DR that the stevia was the cause of your miscarriage? I have had 5 pregnancies with one miscarriage and I would think that if stevia caused miscarriages the Doctor would warn women not to use it.

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    1. With all due respect this is a stupid question. In almost all cases a doctor can not possibly tell you what caused a miscarriage. There is almost no scientific investigation into the causes or prevention of miscarriage. Here's a book from a completely secular background sharing the abysmal knowledge modern medicine has regarding miscarriage. And I can't even imagine what kind of doctor would attempt to claim he knew for sure what did or didn't cause an early miscarriage. I mean it's not like there are microscopic cameras in the womb. We can only guess in most cases unless the pregnancy was far enough long to test and show there was a severe chromosomal issue incompatible with life. And I don't think Zsusanna was even claiming for sure that stevia caused her losses just sharing that anecdotally and yes she did use the term anecdotal her losses coincided with her stevia use. I just find it obnoxious for some anonymous internet coward to ask for PROOF from a DR that no doctor could possibly provide. It's just obnoxious. It also presupposes that all doctors even bother to stay on top of all possible miscarriages risks. Of course I'm talking to someone here who actually thinks a dr could give some proof of what caused an early loss.....
      http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Term-Uncovering-Truth-Miscarriage/dp/0813540534/ref=sr_sp-btf_title_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1393282495&sr=8-11&keywords=miscarriage

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    2. That is exactly what she is claiming.

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    3. "I have talked to a number of women who directly blame stevia for their inability to become pregnant, or for a miscarriage - myself being one of them."

      She is specifically blaming.

      And the comment above from Saponaria "with all due respect this is a stupid question" is ridiculous. It is not a stupid question. Do you know how many pregnancies end up in miscarriage each year. How many children does this author have... How many miscarriages has she had before? When making such an accusation you should have some sort of scientific backing.

      The christian in me feels for her and her miscarriage but it also will not allow false accusations.

      BTW, I have decided to start the THM plan after reading this review...

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    4. Saponaria, How can you say this person is asking a "stupid" question by wondering if the author has proof? Then you go on to say a doctor cannot possibly tell you what caused a miscarriage. Yet you're OK with the author spending most of the article linking Stevia to miscarriages?

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  7. For the most part I enjoy following the plan. At first I ran out and bought liquid stevia and truvia... but I have not used them more than a handful of times... I guess I don't have the sweet cravings like many women seem to have so the sweets isn't really an issue for me...and when I DO want something sweet I just have it. I know...that's not "allowed" but I just enjoy my occasional sweet and don't fret about it a bit. It never effects my weight loss.
    Anothing thing I do personally is, adjust my normal meals to be somewhat THMish. I've never made a recipe from the book besides the muffin in a mug...and maybe that's why I never did again. I gagged amd I want real food not microwaved muffins. So anywho. I love the plan. Like you said, the basic concept...awesome! But I just apply the basic concepts to what we already eat and try to keep healthy by eating raw and whole foods. I've been blessed to lose 20lbs. And I feel great!!! But I agree about the sweetners!

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  8. I enjoyed reading your post. I do follow THM, and have for about a year. I have gone through spells where I've been very faithful & consistent, and others where I am not. I have enjoyed eating THM style, and do feel like I benefit from it as for me, it has helped me to be more aware & eat healthier. I was disappointed to see all comments had been removed from the page where people had been discussing this post. I like to see other people's viewpoint too.

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  9. Thank you so much Zsuzsanna, I have been following your blog for several months now and really enjoy all you write. I recently discovered a need to change my eating habits for life and when I saw your husband's post on facebook I felt like it was God's timing! I started a low calorie diet 5 days ago and I'm getting bored already and hungry... I'm going to check this plan out, as I need to lose weight sooner rather than later.

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  10. thank you very much! i just bought the book and i was seriously dreading using the "approved" sweeteners. truthfully, harm or help, the benefits of raw unfiltered local honey far far outweigh the carbs in them. loose weight faster or help my kids and family stay healthy and allergy free? thats a pure and simple no brainer! and with just a tsp or two at a time a 3 lb jar will last me much longer than the frankensweeteners. logic- if it make you uncomfortable, dont do it. find a better way :)

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  11. Oh the irony. You're frustrated that they rely on blind faith, anecdotal evidence, and backing their information up with their own information in a circular fashion, while removing or ignoring evidence to the contrary and discouraging critical thinking about their claims.

    Welcome to the mind of any evolutionist who asks a creationist for proof of Genesis.

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    1. You could say the same of any creationist who asks for proof of evolution.

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  12. Hi there! I was wanting to let you know that you forgot to provide links to scientifically-backed, double-blind, controlled studies on the risks of stevia. Not that I disagree that it's not as safe as as so many are led to believe. I'm sure you meant to, since any claim of safety or danger regarding any substance should be backed up by reference to one or more responsible, heavily controlled university studies employing all steps of the scientific method in order to carry any weight and give a claim credibility. Anyway, just pointing that out so you can pop those links to the studies in there for us :-) Have a great day!

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    1. This shows how little you actually know about the nature and limitations of research methodology and statistics. It is extremely unlikely there will ever be a randomized, double-blind control trial to study stevia and miscarriage because it would require far too much time and money with no potential to profit from the outcome. It would also be unethical to proceed if there is legitimate concern of such an outcome based on retrospective data and prospective cohort studies which would be most certainly be analyzed first due to ease, low cost, etc. And due to the outcome measured, miscarriage, it would take a huge group of fertile women over a very long time with multiple pregnancies and miscarriages in both groups in order to have usable data from an RCT, which would be next to impossible.

      And Zsuzsanna is allowed to voice any concerns she has based on whichever criteria she chooses, and readers are allowed to think for themselves whether to be concerned based on the evidence available.
      If there are so studies yet, repeated anecdotal evidence is certainly enough to make me think twice about ingesting a potentially harmful substance, especially if I were a woman attempting to conceive. There are no high quality studies showing toxicity but there are none proving safety, either.

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    2. Kate-physician "This shows how little you actually know about the nature and limitations of research methodology and statistics."
      Right here at the university at Texas A&M where I live they do studies on the fetal impact of alcohol using sheep. They have done multiple fetal impact studies over the years of this kind. To generate the study there must be a known link to be proven. Stevia is not a blip on the radar yet.
      It appears you may not know as much about the nature and limitations of research methodology and statistics than you are letting on.
      There is nothing wrong with a someone asking for backing behind accusations of miscarriage.

      Delete
    3. I don't think you get Kate's message. Yes she knows such studies are done on EASILY done studies. To study Alcohol issues is a PIECE of cake not costing much money considering. But to KNOW when a woman may or may not get pregnant, to keep her contracted for studies and to have her for possibly years list every single ounce of artificial sweeteners she ingest. To rule out EVERY other possible issue that could cause miss carriage etc. is MUCH more expensive, time consuming and logistically hampered than a study on readily available sheep being given alcohol. therefor like a doctor clinically diagnosing a patient based on evidence at hand that in turn is based of repeated facts and likely related occurrences. We must be willing to do the same in such cases with issues like the use of such substances in our diet. You can not use your example to even come close to the same idea of scientific study in this instance. You are comparing apples to elephants here!

      Delete
    4. You're also missing the main point, which is: how many babies would need to be miscarried before someone said, "Hey, yeah--we DO see a connection?" That is not a study most women are going to sign up for.

      Delete
  13. Thanks for writing this! Fascinating stuff! Now to sit back and watch people duke it out in the comments, always a great form of evening entertainment. :)

    We tried Truvia once, and it made my husband sick as a dog. We got rid of that pronto!! No need to try it twice.

    Diana :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I honestly previously dismissed out of the hand the article you linked above that talks about the dangers of stevia. I found it very irritating and lacking in evidence to back the claims up. But I have to admit that looking back since I started regularly incorporating Stevia we've had 4 miscarriages since trying to conceive again. Previous to that I'd not miscarried once and had had 6 children. And it's been an awful and devastating experience to lose baby after baby. I'm currently pregnant with a healthy baby but lost 4 out of the last 5. This is a very unusual situation for me based on my previous history. I've had repeat loss labwork that revealed nothing. After reading of this happening anecdotally to so many other women I'm absolutely reconsidering my use of stevia. I don't need any double blind studies before I make any decisions personally. I'm just shocked to read of this happening to so many other women.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is the saddest post I've seen. Slander is not an attractive quality for a Christian blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, for heaven's sake. Sssssslander is sssssspoken. I believe the word you're looking for is "libel." Not that it's either one, but at least use the correct word.

      It never ceases to amaze me how rabid the followers of THM are.

      Delete
    2. It's not slander. It's a difference of opinion, citing various sources. THM is not the beginning and the end of the earth. They claim they were inspired by God, and while I do not doubt them, I do doubt that God made all people in such a simplistic mold that the same program would work as flawlessly for one as for another.

      Our souls are surely different enough -- why would God create our bodies differently?

      Delete
    3. You don't like THM? Then dont follow it.. Simple. Me? Love it. :)

      Delete
  16. Thank you for posting this info! I have not tried it but heard a lot about it and any blog post I saw trying to expose the same things you did, I saw go down in flames too. It seemed to me the biggest backlash was that Christian women shouldn't criticize their sisters in Christ but c'mon, information like this needs to be discussed. The only way I have used Stevia is the green powder in my toothpaste mix so I am going to switch to another recipe just in case. Why take a chance, especially when it's something that can easily be avoided. Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have spent quite a bit of time looking for evidence that stevia was used as an herbal remedy to prevent conception. Could you share your references with us, please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where did you look? I found several reports of this on my first search.



      Delete
  18. Silver is natural - it must be safe, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So is mercury - and it's super safe :)

      Delete
  19. I've heard that raw milk, especially in the first trimester can cause miscarriage. In fact, I had a midwife advise not to consume it in the first trimester.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And why on earth would raw milk cause a miscarriage? As long as it comes from a healthy cow, there is absolutely nothing that is inherently dangerous about raw milk.

      Delete
    2. So being "healthy" eliminates all the bacteria on that cow's udder?

      Delete
    3. So tell me, how's the bubble you're living in? Because I'm not sure how else you intend to protect yourself from all the world's bacteria. Do you really believe that your store-bought milk is bacteria free?

      Delete
    4. There's a nice saying in the toxicology world..."The dose makes the poison".

      Delete
    5. Read "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living". Pasteurized milk can have over twice as much bacteria in it than raw milk, and still be sold. Because of the paranoia over raw milk, it tends to be much cleaner and safer than pasteurized. ~J

      Delete
    6. I never normally reply to comments, no matter how ludicrous, but I figured that the proponent for raw milk hasn't spent much time milking her own cow, or been in the standard dairy shed lately. Maybe things are different in the USA, but in the world's leading dairy exporting country (New Zealand), I have too much first hand knowledge of the dangers of raw milk to anyone with reduced immunity. That includes the elderly, the unborn, and those with a number of diseases. Sure, I drink raw milk when I'm not pregnant, and love its health benefits, but I'd quite like to kill all the nasties I see floating around in the milking shed when I'm putting my baby's risk! In NZ, farmers get paid based on two things--the amount of fat in the milk, and this payout gets lowered based on the cell count (of harmful bacteria) found in the milk. A good incentive for farmers to keep as clean as possible, and to regularly test and treat their cows for various diseases.
      Recently, our biggest exporter got a lot of negative press for possible having a toxic scare in some pasterized milk products (it actually ended up testing negative after a major recall), but this was the only time an issue had ever come up, so I think its probably misleading to say that pasterized can have twice as much bacteria as raw.
      I would have thought the USA had similar food safety handling requirements to NZ.

      Delete
    7. Brucella abortis...look it up. It's no joke.

      Delete
  20. I like your analytical style, and I'd like to recommend The 80-10-10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham, which advocates for the exclusive consumption of low-fat, raw, plant-based foods. While I haven't followed it to the letter, it's been the foundation of my diet for the past four years with amazing results, including a 50+lb. weight loss that I've been able to keep off while eating several times a day.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As adults we are never to take something out of blind faith - do your own research! You are also not supposed to take everything your pastor says as gospel either - you are supposed to study the Bible on your own. That being said, when you stick over 32000 women in one group you are going to see a string of miscarriages - at least 8000 based on the fact that 25% end. If you fully understood from a biological standpoint how truly miraculous it is that a baby comes out "normal" this would not be a fact that surprises you. The scientific "evidence" in this article is horrendous and anyone with any kind of biological background can see this. BTW - you can't believe everything you read on the internet, anyone can write a blog these days.

    ReplyDelete
  22. When I first heard of stevia 10 years ago, I was asked to do some research for a woman. She used stevia for a long time and couldn't get pregnant, in spite of testing, etc. I told her of the stuff I read about it possibly preventing conception/or causing miscarriages. She promptly stopped using stevia and was pregnant with her first child within three months! I have never forgotten that.
    I follow THM loosely because there is good things about it and I use a little stevia (no Truvia, gave me stomach pain)) since I'm past child bearing years. One reason I am careful with any diet is because no matter how much time is spent in researching, the authors of THM/diets will have some things wrong. They will NOT be 100% accurate! I despise the idol worship that goes along with THM/diets..."No way possible Pearl/Serene could have anything wrong!!"....women are so prone to this! I must say....I and others I know have been turned off of THM by the deleting of comments/threads of stuff like this. It can be and must be discussed so women can make their own decision!
    Thank you for writing this! We are all different....listen to your body, do research and make your decision based on what YOU are comfortable with.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I appreciate all the feedback on this thread, both positive and negative, and regret not being able to respond to each comment individually.

    To those of you who have shared your own experiences with miscarriage here, I would like to say I am sorry for your loss.

    I will do another blog post on the ridiculous lengths that the authors of the book, and the admins on the THM Facebook groups, go to in an attempt to stamp out anyone questioning the safety of stevia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I will do another blog post on the ridiculous lengths that the authors of the book, and the admins on the THM Facebook groups, go to in an attempt to stamp out anyone questioning the safety of stevia."

      And the reason you do this is? Whether you like the way they are handling it or not, it's not right to assume you know why they do it. You have no evidence that your miscarriage was caused by Stevia. I'm sorry that you lost your baby. I too have lost a baby and know that pain, but blaming stevia is unfounded. Nevertheless, you believe that is what did it. That is your opinion. I do think slandering THM because you couldn't get on THEIR Facebook page and scare all the women into thinking that this plan is causing people miscarriage is not right. Don't be part of it, don't use their plan, but until you have scientific evidence that Stevia causes this and proof that they just don't anyone to know, keep your slanderous thoughts to yourself.

      Delete
    2. Hello, if you are holding yourself up as an expert in a public forum you have to deal with some criticism. If they didn't want that they shouldn't have published a book. If there is even a chance stevia is causing miscarriages women deserve to know. Period. It isn't about protecting their image it is about the health of woman and babies.

      Delete
  24. I've had 2 miscarriages. I've NEVER had Stevia. The fact is, miscarriage is EXTREMELY common, especially in the first 8 weeks but throughout the first trimester. Sure you used Stevia, but you also ate beef, pork, chicken, icecream, red peppers....rode a bike, went for a walk, drove a car...listened to music...correlation does not equal causation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. i have closely followed the FB page that you are referring to, for almost a year. it is a unique blend of women who can share their struggles, get help and support. one thing that makes it so special is the lack of drama &debate. that isn't by accident! there are strict guidelines posted- that all must agree to before they become a member. one of the topics that comes up again and again and again (and again) is the topic of "how safe is stevia" and it is usually one of the same 4 articles...when someone asks, the admins point to the sweeteners file on the pg &leaves it up to each individual to do their own research. when a debate starts, as is bound to happen w/ 30k women, the thread is pulled. no one is forced to use stevia...every person has to research what they put into their bodies. the authors of the book, feel as though they have done enough research and are comfortable enough to use the products in their home. as far as the running of the page: there are rules. if a post doesn't follow the rules, set out by the owner of the fb page- it is yanked. simple as that. here is the guideline:
    *Derogatory comments about others food choices, ‘fear’ based comments about food quality, or blog posts to that nature will be removed.

    *Discussions on off plan ingredients or with negative tones about THM approved foods will be removed. Posts (or blog posts) seeking feedback on whether or not it’s Biblical or wise to eat certain foods…these are matters of personal research and interpretation that are better discussed with your pastor/clergy/spouse

    i can understand your questioning of effect stevia may/may not have on our bodies. but the accusation that the authors/admins on the page are intentionally "covering up" such a devastating side-effect, solely for profit? Its ludicrous and quite frankly reflects upon your character, more so than theirs.
    have a nice day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there is a difference between kind and thoughtful disagreement vs. nasty stuff. Why not allow people to discuss their concerns about stevia as long as they do it in a calm fashion without making any personal attacks? I don't think that would tear anyone down. However, it IS their site and they are free to make whatever rules they would like.

      Delete
    2. The problem is this. IT IS NOT JUST an opinion the authors are putting out. They TRRULY state many things as facts that are not facts. THIS misleads MANY people. MANY studies show opposing facts than what they state. FINE if it's an opinion let them state it as such. NOT as scientific fact! Such as when they state as FACT that stevia will NOT lower blood pressure in those who have already normal blood pressure. THIS IS NOT TRUE based on multiple findings. This is but one example of false statements in the book.

      Delete
  26. In my experience, I was losing weight rapidly, about a pound a day, but it constipated me, and their suggestion of taking magnesium tablets didn't do a thing.

    I was happy to see this on your blog, as I was just researching this stuff, and even read that article you linked to, just the other day. I'm with you - raw honey and whole milk - yeah!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Interesting I use xylitol in my toothpaste I guess I will rethink its use

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't know whether Stevia is not safe to consume in high quantities - however, I am pretty sure that the authors of this book do not try to "hide" information in relation to this (or at all). While I understand that you are trying to find answers because of your miscarriages (I am sorry for your loss), I feel that it is unfair that you are blaming the authors for your loss. They are not doctors but simply advocate what they understand to be right. You have to make your own informed decisions. It is okay to write about your own experiences - and even discourage other women to use stevia - but it is unfair to spread hate :-/. I hope that you can forgive the authors in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not a fan of Zsuzsanna. I disagree with her on, well, pretty much everything. But when it comes to THM and its authors, she is spot on. The authors and FB moderators are vigilant about pulling any conflicting opinions from the group. No thoughtful, respectful discussion is allowed. Instead, they insist that, in the name of "peace, love, and harmony," members of the group must only say supportive, positive things of THM.

      Whether or not you are a fan of THM (or Zsuzsanna, for that matter), to deny the censorship that takes place in the THM FB group is nothing but burying your head in the sand.

      Delete
    2. I agree! I've been on the THM facebook pages for the past year and that censorship really bothers me. It is uncalled for!

      Barb

      Delete
  29. Hi Zsuzsanna,

    I just wanted to encourage you that if you increase your calcium intake in the form of supplements (say two 1200mg) and add a heavy dosage of vitamin D (I take a lot, but you can take 5000IU+) daily, you will be sure to lose weight steadily. If you Google "calcium weight loss" you can find some useful information out there about how it contributes to weight loss. Indeed it does - my weight has been steadily decreasing over the last few days when I started supplementing calcium and vitamin D! I've tried a lot of things too, but nothing this effective.

    Here is a great video by Dr John Cannell on vitamin D intake. We would all benefit from a higher intake! But such a simple solution to better health is obviously hidden by our governments and pharmaceutical companies, who just love money.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--NqqB2nhBE

    Here is general information about calcium and weight loss.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNigrx1CzDQ

    Upping one's intake of calcium is beneficial to the bones anyway, but since it does something like inhibit the storage of fat, I'd try it out!

    You look lovely anyway :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonamous- just wanted to pass on my experience- I was taking calcium supplements since i'm dairy free, and when i started taking mega doses of D's since mine was dangerously low, and not increasing with usual dosage, i developed kidney stones. the dr had me stop taking calcium supplements and have not developed any stones. wish someone told me beforehand...

      Delete
  30. Interesting article. I had a miscarriage in July at 8 weeks. I was not using stevia but found out I had low progesterone and thyroid levels. I got pregnant 2 weeks later, got on thyroid meds, took progesterone supplements and am now 37 weeks pregnant. I have used stevia liberally throughout my entire pregnancy. I am not saying that there COULDN'T be a link, but I think we also need to think about the fact of just how truly common miscarriage is. And for women who do not fix their hormonal issues (low progesterone is very common in the US), then repeat miscarriage is a possibility. Miscarriage is devastating and we all want to know why it happened to us. I am very sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Interesting read. I started THM almost 6 weeks ago. I think food and diet can easily become an idol...as so many bandwagons....and this is not Serene's first bandwagon. I promised myself that I would not read this book due to that issue. After 7 kiddos I had some stubborn baby weight still to lose. So I gave in and tried it. After being incredibly frustrated at seeing no weight lose 2 weeks into it...we found out I was pregnant. I am a healthy(with an extra 10 lbs of weight) 35 year old, no history of miscarriage. I lost the baby at 9 weeks after finding out it had passed at 6 weeks. I know miscarriages are common but this was a first for us....at least with true confirmed pregnancy and a pretty intense miscarriage experience. I have been wondering if this diet, which included quite q bit of stevia has played any role in my recent experience.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Zsuzsanna,
    Funny how the LORD works. I remember "speaking" with you when you were first dx with TTTS and helped direct you to hope and connections page ... I have thought and prayed for you often these last few months. We have surviving twins, but we also had a stillborn son seven years ago. Thoughts and prayers for the rest of your journey. I found this blog post when I was googling something about THM, I feel the same way about the sweeteners. The LORD just keeps pricking my spirit about that one ... thanks for post and the alternative suggestions. :-)
    Lovingly, Melissa

    ReplyDelete
  33. wish I had read this article before using Truvia - which contains Stevia. I am severely allergic to ragweed and had about 1/2 tsp of truvia in my yogurt and wondered why I started to feel my throat tighten and get wheezy. I am usually very cautious about trying new things but since the THM book raved about this I used it without doing research. Luckily I had Benadryl on hand and called 911 and all was okay but I will never use that stuff again and I really have to be aware of what is in other products like protein shakes etc as a few contain stevia now. Thanks for your great info.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Just pondering comments above and in the well written article that addressed me: low blood pressure. I have that and a leaning toward hypothyroid, which sometimes causes constipation. Even when my condition is improved I still have perplexing dry difficult elimination and seems to parallel my using stevia instead of sugar for 2 or 3 years. I google Stevia and dehydration, but no comments. Very interesting comments and contributions here. Hard to pin point without all the double blind tests, etc, but here ust be my pivot point: my intuition is usually always right when a thought persists and it is, "Even though they say Stevia is harmless, I have a strong hunch it's not good for MY system. I think I'll get some maple syrup.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Zsuzsanna,
    I appreciate you for taking the time to write this post as well as the follow-up post. The world needs more people to take a step back and look at things critically. I have also been quite disturbed by the censorship in the THM group page when a member asks about the safety or efficacy of a recommended food. To say that there will be no debate and for us to blindly trust the authors because it took them 5 years to write the book is quite insulting. I could give the author's a little more credit had they provided a list of research articles in the index to support their claims. This would also give a starting point for my own personal research. All that said, eating "real" food and combining ingredients a certain way seems like a harmless experiment to see if it causes weight loss. But when you add ingredients that are not your run-of-the-mill variety, extensive research should be done for safety. Remember the ads for Splenda? "It's made from sugar", so we should all feel safe using it. Blech!

    I did not see the original posting of your blog or the heated debate; I am usually cruising the page for recipes much later than they were posted...and I assume well after posts have been taken down. I did see the aftermath as the ladies all banded together to protect the authors and moderators -- like a small hamlet had survived the evil dragon attack. I appreciate you adding the screen shots of the posts so I could see for myself what occurred. I do understand their concern for debate turning ugly, but debate/discussion only adds to the general knowledge for everyone. It's always OK for people to disagree as long as comments do not turn to personal attacks.

    Sheri Bovard

    ReplyDelete
  36. I know this is a slightly different comment, but I am surprised that no one has commented on how bad all these 'fake' sugars taste-Stevia included. They taste bad to me and leave an aftertaste that even a good teeth brushing can't eliminate.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you sooooo much for writing this post! I agree with everything you said.

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing this. I will be putting my stevia in the bin and using raw honey in moderation from now on.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wow . . . great post. I am constantly looking up articles on the negatives of THM because it seems like 90% of the population are only praising it to the skies and never include any of the cons to the plan in their reviews. I agree with its principles, but stevia -- ? ew! I didn't want to have to use that! I am very excited to hear of your argument against all of these "natural" sweeteners.

    charmant

    ReplyDelete
  40. I just picked up the book. God gave us the land of MILK and HONEY. I'm going to stick with those and concentrate on eating the different whole fats and carbs like the book but not using stevia. Thanks for the insight!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Then At The Bottom Of The Page, It Says.... Others Will Be Deleted Without A Second Thought... hmmmmmm

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm so thankful to see your post! I started doing the plan, and was using stevia as the sweetener for us. I get migraines, and they went from being sometimes to being every single night. I also started having issues with my period/hormonal things. I kind of thought I was going crazy, and mentioned it to my friend that introduced me to THM. After multiple friends had been having similar or the same issues, she found your article and pointed us to it. Thank you! I'll be moving forward with out the stevia! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thanks for the information that Stevia lowers blood pressure. I am 72 and have hypertension so I will be using Stevia. Xylitol and other such sweeteners give me intestinal woes so I avoid them.

    ReplyDelete
  44. You have really given us a wonderful blog, with accurate information. I noticed all the incorrect product advice in Trim Healthy Mama. Keep up the good work, you really have a gift with words.
    In your opinion, no more scrambed eggs? In other words, you must separate the yolks and whites for different meals? I have been reading a really wonderful book, "The Nourished Kitchen" by Jennifer McGruther. This book really describes the way that I would love to live, if possible. It is a Farm to Table type of book and references Weston A. Price and his research.

    I need to lose some weight and simplify meal preparation as I am older and have mobility problems. Food preparation has become such a dilemma. I also loved a book, called, "Nourishing Traditions", by, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. I thought it contained a great deal of down home wisdom.

    Trim Healthy Mama, promotes some very unhealthy and dangerous ingredients. All the substiture sugars have already been shown to be very harmful. Also, microwaving your food, is not safe, in the purest sense of good nutrition. I enjoyed the information about separating carbs, fats, etc. The book has some real value, but to me, it is a fad diet. Sorry to say this, as they appear to be really cute sisters. You never have to resort to "fake" foods to be healthy, in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  45. What is wrong with xylitol? It comes from trees correct?

    ReplyDelete
  46. I don't have time right now to go over your whole post but let me just say that I am not thrilled w/ THM either, but some of your facts in this post should probably be gone back over.

    1. on stevia. I am doing a ton of research on the herb and the reproductive issues have been completely debunked. I am going to be posting on it soon.

    2. on xylitol, I am on the fence about this sweetener, but the Healthy Home Economist has been shown over and over to do poor research and to make claims just to get readers. Her post on xylitol was wrong on a number of counts. One was the heavy metals. If you just go to the post she cites about that it clearly states that there are NO heavy metals in xylitol. I wrote a rebuttal to her post on Costco coconut oil.

    3. The post on stevia that you cited by Empowered Sustenance is one that has tons of problems. I am going to be refuting everything in her post. Nice gal and she did a post for me at one point but that post is completely unfounded.

    I do so appreciate your taking the time to write about THM but it's clear you care a lot about being on the money with your facts so I thought you would like to know - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  47. What do you know about the safety of monk fruit? I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, and have gestational diabetes. I did try THM last summer for three months. I didn't lose any weight. I just wanted to sleep all the time. Towards the end of summer I was able to figure out why I was so tired. I read that stevia can drop your blood pressure & my blood pressure already runs low. I was discouraged THM didn't work for me, but after reading this I see it was best.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Stevia contains inulin. You need to drink lot of liquid if you are going to use this product. I am post menopause- forwarded the info to my daughter. Whatever we put in our mouth we have to be very careful. Some need to learn this is a discussion- not neccessary to get in attack mode.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I just recently found your blog and have been reading back through some of your older posts. I read this post with interest, because I currently am following THM. I, too, have had some concerns about the safety of stevia. I believed it was safe and began to use it a lot in the beginning. I was still bf my youngest and was a little concerned because I went months and months without having a period. Way longer than I usually do. I went off the stevia and then within a short time,my cycles returned. I went back to using stevia and my cycles went crazy. Still could have been due to the fact I was still bf, though. So I decided to go off stevia completely for awhile and my cycles straightened out within a month. But then I experienced an early miscarriage. While this is not unusual for me (I usually have 1-3 miscarriages between each pregnancy that I carry), I couldn't help but wonder if the stevia was not messing up my cycles. I am now almost 14 wks pregnant again and have been using stevia very sparingly especially with my history of miscarriages. I was glad to read that I could use small amounts of honey and maple syrup on THM. I won't be using any more stevia. Thanks for this post.
    Rebecca

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  50. I have just started THM and couldn't stand the taste of stevia. Plus just seemed weird to me. I was thinking that just using honey or maple syrup would be fine and so I greatly appreciate this post!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Here is great info on Stevia from a very reputable website: http://examine.com/supplements/Stevia/
    Also, the idea of separating carbs and fats has been debunked. Just google it. (one example here: http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/weight-loss/busting-10-diet-myths-10000001700385/page8.html). The best thing you can do is eat a balanced & varied diet, get some exercise, get good sleep, and don't stress over how you look. That's it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The link you provided is about separating PROTEIN and CARBS. THM is about separating FATS and CARBS. In fact, the authors make a point to emphasize adding protein to both carb and fat-fueled meals.

      And as far as it not working - well, it does. If losing 22 lbs in 3 months, without ever going hungry or having treats and plenty of "oops" is "not working," then I want it to keep "not working."

      Please check out the thousands of THM testimonials on FB, their website, and elsewhere on the web: http://www.trimhealthymama.com/thm-testimonials/

      Delete
  52. This is from Tarascon Pharmacopoeia the world's leading drug reference guide;
    STEVIA ( Stevia rebaudiana )
    ADULT – Rebaudioside A (a component of ste-via) is FDA approved as a general purpose sweetener.
    PEDS – Rebaudioside A (a component of ste-via) is FDA approved as a general purpose sweetener. UNAPPROVED ADULT – Leaves traditionally used as a sweetener but not enough safety data for FDA approval as such.
    WHO accept-able daily intake of up to 4 mg/kg/day of ste-viol glycosides.
    Health Canada advises a max of 280 mg/day of stevia leaf powder in adults.
    UNAPPROVED PEDS – Stevia leaves not for use in children.
    FORMS – Not by prescription. Rebaudioside A available as Rebiana, Truvia, PureVia.
    NOTES – Unrefined stevia is available as a dietary supplement in the United States, but is not FDA approved as a food sweetener. Rebaudioside A (FDA approved as sweetner) lacks bitter aftertaste of unrefined stevia.
    Canadian labeling advises against use by pregnant women, children, or those with low BP.

    A link to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on Stevia;
    http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/stevia
    *Contraindications
    Pregnant women should not consume this herb.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I've read through several comments and haven't seen anyone mention this, so I thought I would.

    What is a diabetic to do? Honey and maple syrup will raise blood sugar much higher than Stevia. Yes, using honey and syrup is good whenever possible, but many times you need something sweeter than what the honey can provide without adding a lot of carbs or raising blood sugar too high.

    There are pros and cons to anything we do. Sometimes, we have to chose the lesser of two evils.

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  54. I agree with Anonymous as well. There ARE some stevia's available that are healthy and ok to use, however they are generally NOT on the same aisle as the sugar (unless you are in a health store or at one of the better grocers health section). Truvia is not one of them. The response you received and the screenshot you shared is troubling. I have not purchased the book because 1) Suzanne Somers does a better job and is more budget friendly! 2) if we are going to "eat Biblically" the The Maker's Diet is a great one, and encouraging ancient grains/strands of wheat, raw whole milk and raw honey would make more sense. 3) legalism in any form is not the goal. Thank you for the post! :)

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  55. My daughter and grandson have both been embracing stevia with abandon. Unfortunately, they appear to be allergic--both have daily headaches, my daughter has had kidney pain and now has extreme hives. Sadly, it apparently takes a couple of weeks to get out of your system. I am glad that she figured out that it is a problem for them. I rarely use it, but have noticed a headache the few times I did....the sensitivity must run in the family.

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  56. What about the sweetener "Monk Fruit in the Raw" that was shown on Dr. Oz? It is expensive and not as sweet as some other sweeteners so more has to be used. It does taste pretty good. Someone else asked about it but I didn't see any comments in regard to it. I didn't see any mention of it in the THM book but I haven't finished reading it yet.

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  57. I just bought this Ebook, love the concept....I did not in any manner feel they were pushing "Stevia", advocating "Artificial Sweeteners", or anything of the sorts. It was a good read where they were giving their opinion on things basicly I felt they were giving me a "Choice".....I don't know why people in America can not think for themselves anymore and want to put blame on others who have a different opinion. If you think Stevia gives miscarriages, don't use it.....if you like it, use it. Until it's outlawed, we have to make our own choices......use your head.

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  58. Wonderful, wonderful post! I have been avoiding 0 calorie sweeteners for the EXACT reasons you give here. People just don't realize how bad they are for you. Thank you!

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  59. Sorry to post anonymously.

    I had a miscarriage last year after being on the THM program for several months. I had switched over to Truvia completely. The miscarriage came after three healthy, full-term pregnancies. I have been using stevia since then, no more Truvia, but I think it's time to let go of that too.

    I think that for many women, using stevia would be a healthier option than remaining 100+ pounds overweight. But for those who have less to lose, say under 30 pounds, the extra risk of miscarriage isn't worth it.

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  60. Thank you for this post. I am 47 and not planning on any more kids but had still wondered about stevia's long-term safety. With the link to miscarriages, it also makes me wonder about possible cancers of reproductive organs.

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  61. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog! As you pointed out, it is very difficult at best to find any other opinions about THM other than those promoted by the authors of THM. I bought the book & proceeded to loosely follow the plan just to see if I would be able to sustain it. I wasn't even trying to lose weight at that point. I figured if I could find enough foods/recipes that I would be happy with then I could do the plan. Within a couple of months I began to have a problem with a sore mouth & tongue. I quickly determined it to be from the Truvia, which I really liked. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, I do not like stevia so, I quit trying the plan but, have often wondered if anyone has done the plan successfully using honey. You have answered that for me & maybe I will try it again just using honey as my sweetener! Thanks again!

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  62. thank for the post, very helpful. I also all along felt funny about the whole stevia business, it does not seem to be natural. Also where in the bible do we find them eating truvia and stevia? Nowhere! They ate honey, dates, figs for sweeteners....yet nancy's daughters declare that their diet is biblically sound and common sense. Anything but, I say!

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  63. I was following Eat To Live before starting THM.I really loved THM and the great foods I got to eat. However my health did not improve with this plan. My chest pains and shortness of breath came back with a vengeance and became worse. My breathing was labored and difficult. I would just cry because it was so hard to catch my breath. I reluctantly went back onto Eat to Live and my problems started to subside. I'd say I've had at least 85% if not more reduction in symptoms. I felt more in bondage to food during my THM time too - I thought about food a lot. Now I eat 3 times a day and my thoughts are not totally consumed with food. I'm glad THM works for some people but for those of us who may have more health issues a more radical approach may be what is best.

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  64. Thanks for this great comment. I too feel exactly the same about THM. No doubts it is working for many people, especially those who swich from a SAD diet. I've tried it too, but all along with great anguish of spirit about the money I was spending to buy different foods that for me were difficult to do without following the recipes and sticking to the plan. I felt particulary bad about the sweeteners and the protein powder, wich I went to great lenght to obtain in the remote location where I live in Québec, Canada. We Iive out of a small farm with a tight budget, and 7 years ago I commited to produce most of what I feed my family with. On THM, I felt bad about having to buy things I didn't really need, and things I was very uneasy about, namely erythritol and stevia. I think God created us so we could live out of the land, in all the different climate of the world and be well. But I wanted so much to lose those extra pouns that I was ready to sacrifice my beliefs! I was reserching (again!) on the safety of erythritol and stevia when I found your article along other links on the subjects. And you know what? After much thinking and praying, I finaly stopped using these sweeteners alltogether! What a relief! Funny enough, beside feeling bad, I did not lose a pound (two month of strict THM!). To top it, my father has a hobby of making maple sirup! (He is actually making it as I write this, and he usually gives me most of his production for free! Can you imagine my poor father if he saw those bags of erythritol and stevia! I think it was nonsense for me to consume those things against my concience and my budget. I think the stress involved with it kept me from losing weight. I want to mention that I am out of this adventure with benefits tough. While reading THM book and other sources as well, I reflected a lot about health, metabolism and energy level, and I was able to implement changes that will benefit me in the long run (like respecting my body's need for good steady fuel source to function optimally). There is a reason why one's body stays on fat storing mode. For me, I understood I was stressing my body by not eating regularly, eating unbalanced meals (not enough fiber), paying no attention to my sugar blood level (lots of gorging on carbs) and using coffee in a wrong manner. So as in the life of a christian God makes everything work for our good, I am out of this with great insight and a new perspective. I am grateful you took time to write this article. Job well done.

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  65. Thank you for this post!

    I was previously a member of the THM pregnant/nursing Facebook group for many months. I recall seeing post after post of women questioning the safety of stevia/truvia etc. after observing various reactions in their breastfeeding infants. Reactions such as hives, diaper rash, inconsolable crying episodes, refusing to nurse etc. etc., all noticed shortly after adding stevia to their diets. I really think the effects of these "natural" sweeteners extend far beyond its abortifacient properties. And time and time again the admin assured these moms that the reactions were unrelated to the use of stevia. Unreal! This is one of the main reasons I quit the THM Facebook group.

    I'm curious to know your thoughts on some of the research indicating the importance of consuming carbohydrates and fat (with protein of course) together?

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  66. Thank you for this wonderful insight!! I am 6 months post-partum and am looking for alternatives for my family. I will be taking your advice on the sweeteners you suggest using, but I do have a question. Do you bake any desserts that would require a different sweetener than honey or syrup? Cake comes to my mind, what do you personally use?

    Thank you

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  67. Thanks for sharing. I just learned about this THM way of eating but have been doing it this way for several months now, learning as I go on my own health journey. I watched a video of theirs that's about an hour long and can really relate to Serene's experience with food over the years. It was only a few years ago when I realized that I should not be afraid to eat meat because JESUS ate meat! Dah. But I was so stuck in my vegetarian and strict vegetarian ways. And raw food.

    I grew up on fast food, started getting fat like the rest of the women in my family when I was in my early twenties. Panicked. Found the McDougall "Twelve Days to Dynamic Health" and figured I could dedicate 12 days to this. I lost weight quickly and felt GREAT!! So naturally I thought "Hmm, this must be the way to eat". I was stuck in that mindset for many years, dabbling a little into 80/10/10 raw food too. Then MS hit about 4 or 5 years ago.

    Anyway, it's such a long story!! Now that I am settled and balanced (though still with MS and plenty of issues that come along with that) I plan to make a blog post about it and I am going to include a link to this post.

    I really appreciate your thoughts as you share my same concerns. Though I REALLY agree with almost everything they promote I stay away from any kind of artificial sweeteners, even processed stevia. The bible speaks of honey. We have a hive and another one growing. I use honey in almost anything that needs sweetener, but I cut the sweetener down a lot.

    Thanks again for posting.
    Joanne
    Frugal Home and Health
    (check out my youtube channel if you are interested! I'm really trying to build it up)

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  68. I have been researching this plan. And have a question that may seem offensive, but I would like to know if anyone else sees this problem. Often, the "after" pictuers shared online show that their faces look aged as compared with a "before" pictures. This keeps me from going whole heartedly with the plan. Anyone else see this? Or is it caused by something else?

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    1. I see this a lot with people after they lose weight--no matter how they did it. Often, just losing some cushiness in our faces makes us appear to look older. :(

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  69. Hi my comment is not about Stevia but you mentioned to feel free to discuss anything thm related. I had been on the plan for a year and felt great . I lost weight and felt healthy. Then I went in for a health screening and I was shocked at my results. My cholesterol was at 225. I have always had great cholesterol and get a health screening every year. The only thing that I was doing different was the trim healthy mama. I figured it has to be all the extra fats. I always made sure I kept my food portions to a normal serving while following the plan. I got on the website and told them of my concerns. They told me I was following the plan correctly but that they suggest I stay away from all sources of dairy for awhile. They told me their plan was proven to lower cholesterol and that mine was just fluctuating and was sure to go down. I'm not sure what to think at this point. Have others had similar problems? I noticed that a lot of people on plan that had lower cholesterol were eating horrible before thm. So maybe thats why their cholesterol lowered in the first place? I really don't know but thought other people should know thus as well and watch their health carefully.

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  70. Can you use sugar, instead of honey, and still lose weight? If I limited sugar intake, and used it sparingly? I don't care for honey much, and it is expensive.

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  71. I have not read anyone mentioning agave syrup or coconut sugar as alternatives? Any thoughts on these sweeteners which are supposed to have a lower glycemic index? I would like to know your thoughts.

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  72. Fascinating! I was wondering about the sweeteners but I just figured the book got it right. Do you know if there's any issues while nursing? I won't be fertile for another six months assuming my hormones remain the same as in the past so I'm not worried about a miscarriage for a while, but I definitely don't want to harm my baby!

    I'm curious about using agave nectar too... would that be a good alternative?

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  73. I love your article ! Cuts to the chase as far as what the diet is all about: as for people arguing over stevia, the only ones who might take it serious are those who are PG or planning on getting that way: I just hope it doesnt have other side effects!! All and all ,I would think any wise woman would want to hear this information about stevia!! Otherwise,REMAIN STUPID! Dont kill the messenger !! Thanks for the wonderful article ,because I didnt want to go buy the book for the recipes but, for the knowledge: which sounds simple enough ! Couldnt they have just explained the theory and wrote a huge cook book instead!! I dont want the book ??I would think a big cookbook would be more helpful! At any rate , I think I can separate carbs from starch! Have a great day!

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  74. Thanks for writing this. I"ve stated the plan, but am appalled at the use of fake foods and the vast amount of desserts on pinterest boards, etc....Surely the spoonful of raisins on my oatmeal can't be more sinister than a packet of stevia. They should encourage folks to reduce sweetners until they no longer taste good..

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  75. I haven't gotten "on plan" yet, because it just seems so confusing to me. My sister-in-law has/is a THM and it has worked extremely well for her. But anyway, what is confusing to me is fuel pull and crossover meals. I don't understand them. Why does it all have to be so complicated? Is there something that is a little easier to understand? Any easier tips on eating less carbs, or whatever????

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  76. Great article. I am just starting THM but taking a whole foods approach and not using the frankenfoods. There is a FB page full of people doing THM with whole foods.

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  77. I have just purchased their three books through Amazon because I really need to lose weight and be more healthy and the testimonials were so compelling. Also the sample recipes I read seemed doable. My main concerns are:
    It is a concern that they are not more open and allow dialogue and discussion regarding the claims of stevia especially as they are people who love children and large families and claim to have a concern for women. Stevia is everywhere on supermarket shelves now as the "new" sugar and they claim their diet is not a fad - also stevia seems like a very processed product to me (comes from a natural one - but so does sugar)
    Most people eat more simply than this and don't have 300 recipes in their repertoire - it seems that a lot of the recipes in the book they "created" in order to fill the book and that doesn't reflect real life of how most people live their lives with maybe 20 recipes they use regularly and recycle
    In first read it seems to make eating and food preparation overly complicated but is definitely more healthy than the way I am currently eating so am going to try it as a starting point and minus the "products" whilst tweeking it to my situation, lifestyle and family
    They say it is about healthy eating but it seems to be have a tad about the way you look as well (trim) - not necessarily something I want to go back to, having been way too focused on my looks in the past (remember they used to be singers and have produced albums and a lot of the "fans" of THM will remember that and have followed them because of that)
    It is listed on the New York Times best seller list which is always a red-flag for me as once something becomes "popular" I am far more skeptical
    They openly admit they have tried many different plans and have made mistakes before so there is no reason they haven't this time too (e.g. with the stevia etc)

    I would say that they need to be careful that their "success" doesn't go to their heads. Once your book hits the New York Times Best Seller list and is available on Amazon there will naturally be a tendency to want to keep it there (to remain "successful"). Much more difficult to back-track and admit you were wrong once something is published to that level in society/world, although it seems to me they don't actually think they are wrong. The first book I bought through their mother's magazine "Above Rubies" was a spiral bound book with no photos and hand drawings - these publications are a lot more glitzy and polished and seem to promote them a lot more, which will attract a different audience.
    The people who have tried the diets are not necessarily Christians so you don't know what their motivations are for wanting to lose weight.
    They are open about the fact that the diet will fail if you only eat all S meals for example so you have to follow it properly and that you may not even lose any weight in the first 4 weeks as your body adjusts to a new way of eating but you will be more healthy. One woman said the scales only moved every 2 weeks which is slow (but sustainable and hopefully maintainable) weight loss - but of course this could be discouraging as naturally you want to see results to know it is "working", but in the long run is the right way to lose weight.

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  78. Thank you for this post! It is encouraging to read confirmation that stevia is (or can be) dangerous to pregnant mamas. I miscarried a baby in October while using small amounts of stevia and following the THM plan. A dear older women with five children told me about how stevia is used in South American countries as a method of birth control. I don't want to be consuming anything that might act as birth control -- I was thankful for the warning! I recently bought the new THM cookbook and am planning to go back "on plan", at least partly (using honey and other natural sweetners, and including more carbs when I need them). I don't really need to lose more weight -- as you said in your post, the plan can be very effective even when followed loosely! If the Lord blesses me with the conception of another baby, I don't want to gain as much weight as I did in my last pregnancies -- THM should help. Thanks again for this post, and God bless!

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  79. Years ago when I commented about how Stevia was giving me headaches and making me jittery and dizzy, my comment was deleted on their main Facebook page. That's when I quit the program. I'm more of a nourishing traditions fan anyway.

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  80. Sorry, I know this is an old post but I came across it by accident. So glad I did because a few of my supplements have stevia in them and I am trying to become pregnant!! I heard that it could potentially cause infertility but I assumed it was like drinking herbal tea or something which my midwife assured me wasn't a problem. Do you also think avoiding herbal tea, specifically hibiscus could also be problematic?

    Thanks,

    I always enjoy your vast knowledge on natural substances

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  81. Hi Kimberly, I am an admin from the trim Healthy Mama group. Thank you so much for your participation! I am writing to you today to let you know that I removed your article link about Xylitol. Are guidelines ask that members not post negative tones About o plan foods so we can keep the group tone positive and encourage members to make on plan choices. We encourage everyone to do their own research and respect your decision should you choose not to use an on plan food. Thanks so much for understanding. - Janet, THM admin team
    Chat Conversation End
    Sent from Messenger


    I got this from them days ago. I am utterly disgusted with them. They are attempting to censor information about their products. Horrible Horrible Horrible.

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  82. Thank you for speaking out about this! I was on plan and did lose some weight, but I have had 2 miscarriages in the past year, and now I won't use stevia while we're building our family. Maybe once I'm done having kids. It's so frustrating that the admins shut down all conversation about the full effects of stevia. I hate to think that all of these women could potentially experience a miscarriage that was preventable! I plan to contact Pearl and Serene directly and ask them to be more open and do more research.

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  83. After 10 years of infertility (had completely given up) I got pregnant for the first time ever while taking a popular health supplement that contains a good amount of stevia. I had never used stevia before. I continued using it in early pregnancy and then only occasionally throughout the rest of the pregnancy. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl who is God's absolute best gift to me ever. I'm now starting THM to lose the baby weight. So, I just have a hard time believing the stevia thing.... Sorry....

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  84. Maybe each person should prayfully consider their approach to healthy living. This hashing back and forth solves nothing but after you receive information placed before, make a personal decision as to what is best for you. Lots of foods in our society can harm or kill us if taken in excessive abundance....even "good" foods taken in gluttony. I like to learn about healthy living, healthy eating, healthy recipes. I do use stevia on a very limited basis as I have tried to steer VERY clear from other artificial sweeteners which were affected my health. I was a diet coke addict and I am now (as of tomorrow) 56 days free from them and I can tell a major difference....it was causing bad headaches, stomach problems, skin problems, etc. I have had 2 miscarriages and 2 successful pregnancies....I was extremely health conscious both before during and after the pregnancies (all 4)....

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