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Tackling the thyroid problem

Thursday, May 27, 2010 Leave a Comment

Nine weeks ago, I embarked on a nutritional program with Dr. Credeur to help with my low thyroid problems. Specifically, a program to help calm down my immune system that is attacking my thyroid (and nervous system).

The rules are pretty simple: Remove all allergenic foods from my diet (dairy and gluten, specifically) and eat a diet that keeps my blood sugar as level as possible. That means no sugar, no processed food, no grains.

The first thing people ask me is: "So what can you eat?"

Vegetables. Fruits. And protein at every meal. Any meat, seafood, eggs. Basically, it's a whole-foods diet.

I'll tell you what I eat a lot of: hummus. It goes with every vegetable, it has protein, and a little bit fills me up. My kids like it too.

I won't lie: the diet was hard, in the beginning.
It made me realize just how much of our daily diet is made up of bread, crackers, pasta, and grains. It took 3 weeks for my body to get used to the change -- and during that time, I was wiped out. But now, I feel great.

And, while I was skeptical of my diet affecting my very real medical condition of Hashimoto's Disease, I am pleased to report:

- My TSH level is optimal: 1.99. TSH is the blood tests that measures your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It's the universal test to see how your thyroid is functioning. For a year, my TSH levels hovered around 4-5, which is in the high/normal range -- but for me, was causing all of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. It's treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone pill. My endocrinologist kept increasing the dosage, with no effect. The latest increase came right as I started Dr. Credeur's program -- but because I didn't read the label, I was taking the wrong dose -- half what I should have been taking. Six weeks after changing my diet, even on a woefully low dose of medication, my TSH levels still came down. (I'm on the right dose now.)

-My energy levels are back to normal -- almost. Low thyroid causes fatigue, and with a 1-year old and 4-year old, I just couldn't keep up. But now, I wake up feeling refreshed, the 4:00 crash is gone, and I can keep up with my kids. However, I still can't exercise, I just don't have the stamina. My Saturday morning yoga class is all I can manage just now.

- I've lost 15 pounds and 2 clothes sizes -- but more importantly, I lost the bloaty belly fat. Your thyroid controls metabolism, so a low thyroid can cause weight gain and make it very hard to lose weight.

- The brain fogs and distractedness are gone. This was a hard one for me to deal with. I couldn't multi-task without forgetting what I was doing. It's something that makes you think you're going crazy.

- After finding out I'm allergic to casein, a protein in dairy, and cutting it out completely, my horrible seasonal allergies are gone. Go figure.

And yes, I continue to take synthroid, and see my excellent endocrinologist, who is supportive of this nutritional change, and who was very pleased to see my TSH levels come back to normal.