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Diet tips for hypothyroid patients • Hypothyroidism: My Story

Diet tips for hypothyroid patients

Posted on: February 13, 2009 | Posted in: My Story

As I mentioned in my last post, my new doctor specialized in both treating hypothyroidism with Armour thyroid and weight loss, which was exactly what I was looking for. Of course, any self-respecting doctor isn’t just going to throw a bunch of Armour at you and try to give you diet pills without giving you the information you need to help lose weight in a healthy way. So, given that, on top of the list of recommended supplements he sent me home with, he also gave me a lesson on dietary don’ts to keep in mind if I really wanted to lose weight.

I was pretty happy to hear they were all mostly guidelines I already followed in my own eating habits, but still, some of his tips definitely ran counter to the “typical American” idea of how to diet:

  • No artificial sweeteners. This one point is the one he stressed the most, and also the one that cancels out most “diet” foods on the market. Aspartame, saccharine, Splenda, whatever it is … with the exception of xylitol in chewing gum, avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Go “smart” low-carb. Don’t avoid all carbs. Atkins had it wrong on that count. Even though the Atkins diet will kick your metabolism into some serious early weight loss, if you don’t learn how to eat “smart” carbs, you’re not going to keep the weight off with a thyroid problem to fight with. Go with whole grains and low glycemic index foods. The Sugar Solution and Lose Weight the Smart Low Carb Way are two great books for explaining how “smart carbs” work. In short, carbs that raise your blood sugar slowly, and carbs with high fiber content are good (the amount of fiber in a food are subtracted from the carb count, as far as blood sugar is concerned).
  • Stop snacking. This is a tough one. The L-Glutamine powder I mentioned in my previous post really helps here … the other thing that really helps is the “two liters of water a day” rule I also mentioned. It’s interesting: A lot of people mistake their body’s thirst signals for hunger. So, mix a scoop of L-Glutamine powder into your 1 liter bottle of water, and next time you get the munchies, take a few swigs of water. If you’re still hungry in five minutes (and I mean “grumbly stomach” hungry, not “I want a munchy” hungry!), have a low-carb snack.
  • Use real butter. No kidding! You should avoid hydrogenated oils like the plague! Read food labels! And that rule counts out margarine instantly. Go ahead and use real butter in moderation, because it doesn’t have hydrogenated oils in it. Hydrogenation (the process they use to make liquid vegetable oils become solid enough to use in margarine) creates trans-fats, which are really really not good for you. Repeat, for clarity, because it contradicts decades of conventional “diet” wisdom: do NOT use margarine! Use butter (in moderation)!
  • Do not eat high fructose corn syrup! I mentioned “low glycemic index” earlier, and that’s what we’re talking about here: High fructose corn syrup raises your blood sugar REALLY fast, which makes it HIGH glycemic index. Start reading labels! Avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) no matter what you do. The good news here? That means you can stop using “diet” mayonnaise (which always has HFCS), and start using the real stuff again! (In moderation, of course.) In short: “sugar” is not a dirty word, in moderation. High Fructose Corn Syrup, on the other hand, is always a bad word.

Now, most conventional doctors will not be this strict about their dietary guidelines, but if you’re reading this, chances are it’s because your conventional doctor hasn’t gotten you the improvements you wanted with your hypothyroidism treatment, right? So, maybe this guy knows something, right?

All I know is this: When I first visited his office, I weighed almost 180 pounds. Today? I weighed myself this morning, and I weighed 152 pounds. That’s almost 30 pounds, gone! And I know a savvy hypothyroid patient is going to ask, “But can you keep it off?” I first saw him a little over a year ago … I’ve been between 150 and 155 pounds for almost four months now. So, maybe “conventional wisdom” and diet food marketing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for a hypothyroid patient, eh?

Coming up next: Why I switched doctors last month… (Sure doesn’t sound like I would have, does it?)

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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck, just below your adam's apple. Thyroid hormones control the body's metabolism. When it doesn't produce enough hormones, you have hypothyroidism.

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