Hashimoto’s disease is a swelling of the thyroid gland that often results in an under-active thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. It’s caused by the immune system reacting against the thyroid and tends to occur among women in middle age. Symptoms include fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, difficulty concentrating and weight gain. Only a blood test measuring thyroid hormone levels can detect Hashimoto’s disease, and if your thyroid function is too low, your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement drugs, such as synthroid or levothyroxine.
Have your thyroid levels checked by your doctor with a blood test. Your thyroid hormone controls metabolism, so if you have a sluggish, under-active thyroid, your metabolism may be slow, making weight loss difficult. Make sure your thyroid levels are within normal range before beginning a weight-loss program.
Eat foods low on the glycemic index. Because Hashimoto’s disease is an auto-immune disease, it can affect your insulin sensitivity. You may be more sensitive to sugar, so the first step for weight loss is to cut out refined sugars and simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, potatoes and foods that your body easily converts to sugar.
Cook any foods that contain goitrogens. Cruciferous vegetables, soybeans and soy products, and peanuts contain chemical compounds, called goitrogens, that can suppress thyroid function. Heating the foods disables these compounds. Cruciferous vegetables include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips. Other foods that contain goitrogens are strawberries, peaches and millet. These foods don’t need to be avoided, they just need to be cooked.
Eat foods high in fiber. Avoid cold breakfast cereals that can be high in sugar. Eat beans, whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, and leafy green vegetables. Fiber help control blood sugar levels and makes you feel full longer, which can lead to eating less. Fiber also helps with constipation, which is often a side effect of low thyroid function.
Watch your iodine intake. A lack of iodine can contribute to low thyroid hormone levels. Iodine was added to table salt in the 1920s when many Americans were iodine-deficient. Another excellent source of iodine is seaweed, and many natural thyroid supplements contain kelp. Shellfish also contains iodine.
Avoid high fat meats, and instead eat lean proteins. Try eggs, chicken, turkey, fish and lean cuts of beef. Beans are also an excellent source of protein.
Practice regular exercise or yoga to stimulate your metabolism. Do not try to lose weight by dieting alone. Losing weight by dieting alone depletes muscle tissue and actually causes your body to burn fewer calories during the day.
Physical activity is especially important for people with Hashimoto’s disease because it boosts metabolism, relieves stress, strengthens bones and builds muscle. Start with light workouts because Hashimoto’s disease can add to fatigue. Walking, yoga and swimming are all good choices.