A few weeks ago, I announced on Facebook that I had lost 40 pounds in four months on a thyroid diet. The response was a bit overwhelming! It was all positive, with many people asking what thyroid diet I had used.
The truth is that I had evaluated several thyroid diet plans online and had used them all to come up with one that works for me. In doing so, I learned a lot about what foods can stimulate your thyroid into better functioning and what will tank it from the get-go.
I have decided to share what I have learned here, so that you might benefit from my knowledge as well.
What is the Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland that secretes hormones into your body to help it function. IT is found in the front part of your neck and is the basic shape of a butterfly.
The thyroid produces two basic hormones that it produces using the iodine in your diet – triiodthyronine T3, and thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 regulate’s the body’s use of energy at a cellular level. It affects most of the functions in your body including your metabolic rate, heart and digestive functioning, brain development, mood and bone maintenance.
Why is Thyroid Function So Important to Your Body?
Whether you have thyroid issues like hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s Disease) or hyperthyroidism, or have no issues at all except that spare tire around your waist, you should know about thyroid functions. After all, it changes as we age, with our T3 and T4 conversions tending to decrease the older we get.
That is why you could eat three Big Macs at a time when you were in your teens and 20s, but just one in your 30s or 40s can cause your pants to get a bit tight around the middle.
Some conditions that can be brought on by thyroid disease are infertility, low libido, depression, obesity, anxiety and panic disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart disease, ADD and ADHD, Gastro Esophogeal Reflux Disorder (GERD), headaches and migraines, and insomnia. If you suffer from any of these conditions, it is a good idea to have you primary care physician run a full thyroid panel on you.
Know Your Numbers
We all know that we should know our numbers when it comes to heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol level, but we should also know our thyroid levels.
A full thyroid panel tests every part of your thyroid function to see if there are any deficits. It will pick up on the beginning stages of thyroid disease when a basic thyroid function test will only pick up on significant disease.
A full thyroid panel includes the level of thyroid antibodies (the molecules your body uses to stimulate thyroid hormones) along with your T3 and T4 levels. The sooner you pick up on thyroid dysfunction, the better you will be able to control thyroid disease.
Even if you do not have thyroid disease, eating a diet that will stimulate thyroid antibodies and support thyroid function will help you lose those unwanted pounds that tend to hang on and grow as we get older. You will find you have more energy and feel better, too.
Of course, you should consult with your doctor before starting any type of diet. It is good to get a handle on all your numbers, including cholesterol and be able to track them every three to six months (depending on your doctor’s recommendations.
Start With High Quality Supplements
There are a lot of things that you can do, along with careful choices of the foods that you eat, that go along with diet. Let’s start by discussing supplements that you can take daily to support your thyroid functions.
Most doctors will ask if you are taking a multivitamin each day, but do you know what other supplements can help you and when the best time of day is to take them?
For example, if you are taking thyroid medication such as Synthroid, you should not take any supplements, including a daily multivitamin, which contains iron within six to eight hours of taking your thyroid medicine.
Let’s look at supplements for thyroid one by one.
We have all heard of how Omega 3 can support good heart function and help lower those “bad” cholesterol levels. Omega 3 also helps support your thyroid antibodies as well. If you do not eat a lot of fatty fish, like salmon, then you probably aren’t getting enough.
Zinc has incredible healing properties. It also helps support good thyroid function by strengthening thyroid antibodies. You should take 100mg of zinc every evening.
Vitamin B, in all its forms, is very good for your body It also helps support thyroid functions. If you suffer from migraines or any types of autoimmune disorder, you should be taking a good B-Complex vitamin each night before you go to bed.
Ashwaganda Root Extract
You have probably not heard of this supplement, as it is not used much in the United States. It is a root often used to flavor foods in Africa, and it has some wonderful properties. Not only will it help support your thyroid, it also helps by decreasing your cortisol, or stress hormone.
A Good Probiotic
Of course, you have heard about using a good probiotic to help with digestive functions. Did you know that most of your immune system is contained in your digestive tract? It’s true. Many other chemicals are produced in the digestive tract that help with other bodily functions, including thyroid functions. Probiotics should be taken at bedtime to work most effectively.
Selenium (With Vitamin E)
Selenium helps your thyroid medication to work better. Vitamin E helps selenium to work better. The two should be taken together with your thyroid medication each morning. These are the only two supplements or medications that you should take with your thyroid medication as it should be taken one-half an hour before any other medication and an hour before you eat breakfast.
If you live in a developed country, like the United States, you likely use salt that contains iodine and do not need iodine in your diet. It is something, however, that should be investigated and considered if you use non-iodized salt like seas salt or kosher salt. Your doctor can help you by testing your iodine levels and deciding how much you need, if any.
Essential oils have become very popular and can be quite effective in helping to deal with discomforts and disease. Essential oils that can help promote good thyroid function include frankensence oil rubbed on the thyroid, and lemongrass oil and Myrrh rubbed on the thyroid and on reflexology points.
Foods to Avoid
The idea behind the thyroid diet is to eat foods that support good thyroid function, but we cannot talk about what is good for your thyroid without also looking at what foods should be avoided because they hamper it.
We have heard a lot about avoiding gluten and grains for people with digestive issues, but why avoid them for thyroid issues? It’s simple, really. Some of those great antibodies that your body uses to produce thyroid hormones are created in your digestive system – you gut, if you will.
There are more advantages to avoiding gluten and grains, though. Gluten and grains slow your digestive tract and hamper your immune system as well. Gluten and grains are carbohydrates that convert into sugar in the body. Sugar leads to fat, which is the problem in the first place, right?
I’m not saying this has to be a gluten free diet. It doesn’t, but gluten should be avoided whenever possible. Chose a wrap rather than a hoagie, for example. Less gluten, less grain. What should be avoided or lessened? Breads, crackers, croutons, pasta, baked goods, bread sticks, soy sauce, some sauces and marinades, some ready-made broths, any ground meat containing breadcrumbs, beer, and brewer’s yeast.
Again, I am not talking about cutting down completely on your dairy intake. I’m just stating that you need to be aware of what and how much dairy you consume. The issue is that the casein contained in dairy triggers an autoimmune response in the body that hampers thyroid production.
You should avoid things like milk, cheese, some yogurts, whipping cream, and sour cream. If you cannot avoid it, you should at least aim to greatly lessen the amount you opt for. Check labels for things like, lactose (a sugar), whey, casein, and dairy solids.
In fact, there are some theories on the thyroid diet that say that certain dairy, like Greek yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, curd, and kefir that stimulates immune functions. Personally, I opt for plain non-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, for example.
We all know that soy sauce contains MSG and probably avoid using much of that, but if you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may consume more soy products than you think. Soy products interferes with the delicate balance of thyroid hormones in the body and should be avoided.
Soy products include tofu, artificial meat products, soy milk, soy sauce, tempeh, soy products and soy proteins used in processed foods, natto, soybeans, soy bean oils, and any vegetable oil that contains soybean oil. Labels can be your friends. Reading them is important until you learn which products you can use.
We all know this one already: sugar produces fat in the body if it is not immediately used for energy. As such, sugar should be avoided. But did you know that most people who have thyroid issues also develop blood sugar issues like glucose intolerance, glucose insufficiency and diabetes?
Good ways to cut down on sugar are to opt for sugar free options that are natural, like stevia or monk fruit. Cut out processed foods, as sugar is used in the processing. And when eating fruits, make sure to mix them with a protein source, like nuts or non-fat Greek yogurt.
Personally, I cut a lot of calories from sugar (345 of them, to be exact) by switching to a sugar free creamer in my coffee. At two to sometimes three cups of coffee a day, that is a LOT!
Goitrogens may sound like “goiters.” to you. You wouldn’t want a goiter, and you don’t want goitrogens either. So just what are goitrogens?
Goitrogens are chemicals that wreak havoc on your thyroid levels by blocking their production. Here is where it gets a little tricky, though, and again shows why seeing your doctor before going on a diet or starting any supplement is a good idea. IF you are not iodine or selenium deficient, goitrgens might actually help you.
Goitrogens are contained in walnuts and cariferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard green, and cabbage. A good rule of thumb is to only eat cariferous vegetables that have been thoroughly cooked to the equivalent of being steamed until soft.
The Best Foods to Eat for Good Thyroid Function
Now that we know what to avoid, you are feeling defeated, no? Don’t! There are plenty of good, flavorful foods that you can eat! Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Fresh caught fish are the best for you because farmed fish do not develop the same good fatty acids and selenium that wild caught fish do. Some good examples of fish you can eat are salmon, Atlantic Cod, and
You should eat fresh caught fish at least twice a week. To some of us, that is harder than others, especially if we have family members who do not care for fish or if we do not care for them much ourselves. That is why we should strive to either change our habits or have our doctors check our selenium levels.
Seafood and Sea Vegetables
Good seafood choices include mussels, oysters, squid and shrimp. Again, fresh, wild caught seafood is best. Sea vegetables like arame, kombu, and wagame are good choices as well, if you can find them. Eating seafood (or even seaweed chips) three to four times per week is optimal, even if it may not be practical, especially when it comes to price.
Did you know that grass-fed meats contain more Omega 3, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and B-12? Opting for grass-fed meats is your best choice. Choose only lean cuts and cook properly, which is to say that they shouldn’t be over-cooked. Overcooking depletes the vitamins contained in the meat.
Chicken and pork are also good choices. Again, free-range chicken will contain more vitamins to help your thyroid, as well as the rest of you.
Vegetables are an excellent choice for your body. They contain a good amount of fiber that is needed for good digestive health. They also help to manage the good microbes in your intestinal tract.
Choose fresh vegetables over others, and choose frozen over canned vegetables whenever possible. And remember to make sure you thoroughly cook any cariferous vegetables. I avoid them when I can, but that is not always practical.
Just remember to steer away from a lot of root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets because of the carbohydrates they contain that could lessen the production of good thyroid hormones. If you do choose to include them, you should opt for lesser quantities.
Most fruit are good choices for thyroid function, though peaches, pears and strawberries contain goitrogens, so they should be avoided.
Fruits like apples, berries, grapes and pineapple are good options, but be aware of fruits like bananas and dragon fruit that also contain a lot of starchy carbohydrates and limit your intake of those.
Once upon a time, when we needed a broth or stock for a meal we would take the bones from the chicken, beef or pork from a previous meal and boil it to get all the flavor and goodness in the marrow. This is something we should do more of today, as bone broth is high in amino acids, and proline that is used by the liver to detoxify, and repair our intestinal walls. As we have already stated, good digestive health is vital to good thyroid health.
You can buy bone broth made this way at health food stores or you can make your own.
Offal, which does sound like “awful” to a lot of us, is also very good for thyroid health. I’m talking liver, kidneys, and hearts. They are very high in Vitamin D and iron, which most of us lack these days. Again, grass-fed meats are your best choice.
One, offal was common on the tables in America, but in our modern lives, we have gravitated away from them. Don’t be discouraged, though, you can still get all the benefits of offal in the form of grass-fed liver in capsule form.
Get Moving, the Importance of Gentle Exercise
I think we all know that the key to loosing weight, if that is our goal (and let’s face it, few of us choose diets when we don’t need to lose weight), we have to burn off more calories than we take in. Most of live very sedentary lifestyles. We sit at desks to work or watch television or surf the internet all day. If we have not been well, we may be bed bound most of the time.
I’m not saying you need to take on any strenuous for of exercise like aerobics or weight-lifting, and I’m not saying you should join a gym. I’m just saying that you should be more active in the form of walking. Walk more often. Go get that drink you want yourself rather than asking you child or mate to bring it to you. Take a walk around the block on a nice day. The more steps you get in, the more you burn calories.
My suggestion to you here, and depending on the style you choose you can track
The American Heart Association recommends that we get in 10,000 steps in a day. When you are not so healthy, though, that could spell trouble. This is another subject I would discuss with your doctor since he/she will be familiar with any limitations that you should keep in mind. Find a starting place and gradually work up from there as your health improves.
Sleep Patterns Make a Difference
We all know how only a few hours of sleep can slow us down, but did you know that too much sleep is detrimental to your health as well? It most certainly can be! It can cause our bodies to not function in a state of balance and well-being. Our brains need physical and mental activity to function properly, and let’s face it, if our brains do not function properly, neither does the rest of our body, including our thyroid.
Good sleep doesn’t just mean the eight hours of sleep that most people need to function (it may be a little more or a little less for you. The pattern of wake vs asleep matters as well. We should be sleeping during the same time of day every day. When we do not, our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is our stress hormone. While we need cortisol to function properly, too much of it causes us to be in a perpetual state of stress.
You should be going to bed around the same time every night and getting up roughly the same time every day. Having a Fitbit, like the Charge 2 will help you to track not only how much sleep you get, but how much you get of light, deep and REM (dream) sleep you are getting. This can help you understand why you may feel more tired some days rather than others. It did for me!
Lots of Clean Water is Key
Your body is primarily made up of water. This water evaporates and gets used up and must be replaced. Drinking plenty of good, clean water is key to any diet. This doesn’t always mean good, clean, tap water. Tap water contains fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals that can interfere with thyroid functions. Either use bottled water (preferably through a service like Deer Park (refillable water for your home) or buy a water filtering pitcher like this one.
As far as how much you should get, 64 oz per day is the usual recommendation. I caution you to talk to your doctor about this, though. If you have certain heart issues, lung problems or if your kidney function is not up to par, that much could be detrimental to you.
Fluoride in tap water can trigger an immune response which allows those bad thyroid antibodies to attack the thyroid gland itself causing physical damage to they gland itself. So drink up, but know what you are drinking!
Portion Guidelines to Follow
As with any diet, there is the question of portions. Again, we must strive to burn more calories than we take in. A simple way to remember what your portions should be is to use your hand.
Proteins should be the size of your palm. Starches or carbohydrates should be the size of your fist. Vegetables should be the size of you entire hand spread out. I lost my first 20 pounds without my Fitbit by using this guideline. No calorie counting involved.
The Tool I Find Most Useful
My birthday was a couple of months after I started the Thyroid Diet. My husband gave me a Fitbit Charge 2. It has become my most important tool. It allows me to enter the foods I eat and the amounts into the companion app for the Fitbit Charge 2. This way I can track my micronutrients (Carbs, fats, and protein).
While portion size on the plate is most important, the app tracks my calories burned through the activity tracker on the watch, and calculates where I stand as far as calories in vs calories out. To lose weight, you must burn more calories each day than the amount of calories I take in.
It also tracks my sleep, my steps and the amount of time I spend active each day with the watch. It gives you your heart rate as well. It is through this app that I saw that my resting heart rate has gone down as I have become more active and more healthy. I knew my resting heart rate already when I started. They track that when I get my infusion, but being able to see it go down over time has been a great motivator.
The Fitbit Charge 2 gives you reminders to get up and move throughout the day if you set it up for that. I tend to get busy writing sometimes and forget to move. The gentle vibration of the watch reminds me to be more active without being disruptive.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is a great gift for yourself or someone you live… something to consider with the holidays right around the corner. You can get your Fitbit Charge 2 from Amazon. Click now to get it for yourself or someone you love! While you are there, search the wide array of wristbands that are available for the Fitbit Charge 2. You can even get bands for the dressiest of occasions!
Some Final Thoughts
Be patient! Don’t step on that scale every day. Just as a watched pot does not boil, a watched scale does not budge! In fact, it may even move up. I suggest stepping on the scale once a week.
When I started this diet, I went several weeks before I lost any weight at all, so do not get discouraged! It will happen. When you change your diet and your habits, your body will need time to adjust to those changes. The longer you practice those changes, the more results you will see.
You may not lose as much as I have in the same period of time. We all have different bodies. Just as our fingerprints are unique, so are our metabolisms and bodily functions.
Start with a full check with your doctor, including blood work. Keep track of these numbers and have them re-evaluated every three to four months, depending on your doctor’s recommendations. After all, the readout on that scale is not the only number that counts when it comes to our health.
Notice how you are feeling. I feel so much better now with less fatigue and much more energy. I had fewer headaches on this diet even before I started taking the Aimovig that I take now.
And remember that if you keep yourself moving or even start an exercise routine, then you will be burning fat and gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat! If you drop three sizes, feel great and get those numbers in line to where they should be, does it really matter what the scale says?
Be realistic in your expectations! If you have a large bone structure, you will likely never wear a size zero, but that’s okay! What you want to achieve is to be the healthiest you that you can be!
So make an appointment with your doctors to get your numbers and share this article with him/her. Have a frank discussion with them and let them guide you based on your personal medical history. The sooner you do, the sooner you will feel better.
Don’t forget to order your Fitbit Charge 2 by clicking on the image below!
Best of luck to you in your journey!
As always, I want to hear from you. Do you have any questions or comments on my thyroid diet or the Fitbit Charge 2? If you have tried your own version of the diet, please share your experiences and results. Is there anything else you would be interested in reading about? Please take a minute to share these things in the comments section below!
Did You Know?
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