Let me begin by telling you that I’m not claiming to have all the answers, and I can’t say that just because this worked for me, it’ll work for you. Every BODY is different. Even those of us with the same diagnosis of Hashimoto’s are different. I was diagnosed accurately pretty early on so treatment started earlier than some of you that went years suffering or that had been misdiagnosed. This is not a phase or a diet, this is a lifestyle change. I have spent the past year researching and tweaking my lifestyle so I can feel the best possible, and because there were so many sad stories out there, I wanted to find something that worked for me and share in the hopes to inspire another fellow thyroid sufferer to find what works for them.
I get a lot of emails asking me what in particular I eat or don’t eat, and I decided to write it out. I want to be VERY CLEAR that I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or a doctor. So PLEASE check with your doctor or do your own due diligence before starting any new program. I believe in treating this illness with a combination of thyroid meds (whichever combo works best for you) and through diet and lifestyle.
Grab a calendar. Go to the date 1 year from now and circle it. This is your healthversary date. You need to give this a solid year before you give up. I’ll say more after you complete step 2.
Throw out or have someone hide your scale. Seriously. So many People start a workout regimen and expect fast results. Unfortunately, when results aren’t immediate, they get discouraged and give up. I have a friend that joined a boot camp program at her gym and gained weight in the first month. This has also happened to me. There are several reasons why, but in short, the scale isn’t accurately reflecting what is going on. Provided you are eating well, when you begin an exercise routine and start shredding previously sedentary muscles, your muscles hold onto more water as they repair, thus making the numbers on the scale bigger. Plus, ever heard the old adage muscle weighs more than fat? Let your body get used to such fluctuations, and instead go by how you FEEL instead of a number on the scale. At this point, you may be thinking, “Well you weighed yourself, you know what you lost”. Sometimes it was those darn doctors that made me get on the scale, but otherwise I tried to do quarterly weigh ins to track progress from one regimen to another. This brings me back to step one. If you give this a go, you are not allowed to re-evaluate until the 1 year mark. My point, Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was your body. Be patient and allow yourself some time to see desired changes. Regardless of weight loss, remember, you are doing this to better your health.
Exercise. This is a must! We have sluggish metabolisms and the best way to kick ‘em into high gear is by engaging in some sort of physical activity. A lot of research for thyroid patients tout weight training combined with HIIT (high intensity interval training) as effective modes to weight loss. I personally did a bunch of things; I trained for and ran a half marathon, did 60 days of Insanity, 90 days of P90x, and now do a mix of HIIT/cycling/running/weights. This sounds intense, I know. I actually am one of those people who enjoy working out! I find this is a great stress reliever and satisfies my competitive spirit. I currently work out 6 days a week for around 30-60 minutes depending on the activity. My advice is to find something you enjoy or can at least tolerate. I like the structure of programs; there is a beginning and an end, and I like to mix things up. If you hate it, you will not continue to do it!
If you have any physical limitations, find a way to work around them. Google is your friend. Money is not an obstacle here either people. You don’t need to go to a gym. A Jillian Michael’s DVD is $10 and youtube offers free HIIT workouts or go to dailyhiit.com. Bodybuilding.com offers many free workouts as well. If 30-60 minutes sounds too intense, start with 10-15 minutes and work your way up.
Diet. This is the tricky one. When I got diagnosed with this disease and started searching around a lot of stuff on the internet came up about paleo, low-carb, and gluten free. I made a lifestyle change I knew I could live with. For me, Paleo was tough because I LOVE my oatmeal. I read a lot about gluten, including the book Wheat Belly, and decided I could make this change permanent. I also eliminated cruciferous vegetables in the beginning (due to having a goiter), and reintroduced in the cooked form and in moderation once my goiter disappeared. I wrote more in detail about goitrogens here https://hashimomblogs.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/spicy-shrimp/. I also avoid soy, and limit my dairy. Truth be told, I’m fairly certain I’m sensitive to dairy, but I struggle with saying I can NEVER have cheese or yogurt again. I know how my body reacts, so I do my best to eat sparingly. Some people also limit or avoid nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers). I personally don’t feel like I react negatively, so I do not limit. I recommend keeping a food journal to track how you react to certain foods. I use myfitnesspal; it’s free, easy to use, and provides a wealth of information.
A word of caution when using any calorie counting or food logging application. When people go on “diets” they immediately think “eat less, workout more”. Myfitnesspal will tell you that if you are looking to lose weight and are a female that you should limit to 1200. I’ve NEVER cut my calories so low. The long reason is another blog post, but the short answer is because we NEED food for FUEL. After coming off a pregnancy, I needed to re-understand portions, so I initially weighed and measured my food and put myself at a NET calorie goal of 1400 when I had 65 pounds to lose. Net meaning if I burned 500 calories working out, I would aim for 1900 calories. 1900 – 500 calories burned in exercise = 1400. There are plenty of calculators online to give you an estimate of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). At my weight now my calorie “goal” for maintenance is to net 2040 calories a day! Now I just go by my hunger; some days I’m sure I’m over, some days under. It tends to even out.
I prescribe to a whole foods way of eating, popularly referred to as “clean” eating.
Clean Eating “Principles”:
1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods.
Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of your foods should be fresh.
2. Choose unrefined over refined foods.
While it may not be possible all the times, you can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.
3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal.
Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day, like at breakfast and lunch. Protein is an important muscle-builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein.
4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.
This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess calories and high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.
5. Eat five to six small meals throughout the day.
This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.
6. Don’t drink your calories.
High calorie drinks like specialty coffees and soft drinks, on average, tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Choose water first, or my personal favorite, unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks: low-fat or skim milk and 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
A SAMPLE Meal Day:
A quick search for “clean” recipes will bring up several resources; every recipe I’ve posted is considered “clean” as well.
Breakfast: Old Fashioned Oatmeal (Gluten Free) made with coconut milk and cinnamon; 4 egg whites and 1 egg topped with salsa. Coffee. Homemade coffee creamer.
Morning snack (after my workout): Protein shake made with almond milk, chocolate protein powder (raw warrior), and frozen berries
Lunch: 2-3 Turkey muffins (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/video-jamie-eason-turkey-meatloaf-muffins.htm) and vegetable or salad; sweet potato
Afternoon snack: Almonds, Organic Greek yogurt (plain) with kiwi or blueberries
Dinner: Lean meat (Tilapia, turkey, chicken) and vegetable
NOTE: I food prep on Sundays; this is a tremendous time saver; it takes me about 2 hours to prep easily accessible food for my family of 3 that lasts until Thursday.
Keep stress as low as possible. Meditate. Sleep at least 8 hours.
This is A LOT in one post. I’d be happy to elaborate or answer any questions!