How I Balanced My Hormones… Naturally! (Exercise, Diet, Gut Healing & More)

I thought that I never wanted to talk “hormones” on my blog. I wanted to keep thing like “times of the month” to myself and talk more heavily about my journey with hashimoto’s and my gut. That’s really always been more of my issue, so I never saw the need to go in-depth with hormones. However, after a crazy flare and my own constant discovery that our bodies and our health are all connected, I felt like I had to share my story of how I balanced my hormones naturally. 

I’ll be honest here, I’ve struggled with this a lot recently. I may seen like I’m in remission or healed, but that is simply not the case. My health is a journey, just as yours is. Just because I gave up gluten doesn’t mean I’m suddenly immune from health flares. Our bodies and are health our always changing. 

Like I said, I was hesitant to talk “hormones”, but if I share the good with you all, I have to share the bad too. Plus, hormones are so much more than times of the month. It’s about sleep, blood sugar, acne, mood, and more… 

My Hormonal Imbalance Flare 

I used to have terrible hormonal flares with acne, pain, and mood swings when I was a teenager. Doctors always just brushed it off as me being a teenager and didn’t look beyond that. In retrospect, I know that a lot of what caused my recently hormone flare was what was causing my flares in the past. 

I had terrible acne that just wouldn’t budge. I tried creams, ointments, and even prescription acne pills (horrible idea) and nothing helped. It was eventually determined that it was hormonal acne, and I was put on a birth control pill when I was about 17 or 18 to just silence this symptom. My acne went away and I was afraid to ever get off the pill in fear of what it would do to my skin. However, when my husband and I got married, he talked me into talking to my doctor about getting off the pill. He had his head on way straighter than I did at the time and convinced me that the pill was probably doing way more harm than good. And he was right.

I got off the pill a few years ago and had already changed my diet by the time that I did, so my symptoms were much better. I had some acne and mood swing here and there, but never anything drastic… until recently. 

This all started around this past summer…

What Happened To Trigger It?

This is always just speculation, but here are the things that were going on at the time…

  • I was taking my finals at the NTA
  • We were simultaneously buying our first house and moving 
  • I was feeling pressured to quit my full-time job and make the leap to entrepreneurship right then and there
  • We moved into a new old house that was recently remodeled 
  • I was eating more starch 
  • I got out of my normal healthy routine 

My symptoms came on so hard and so fast that I actually got tested for mold toxicity. I thought that our new house was contaminated with mold and that that’s what was triggering me. 

So basically, I was crazy stressed in more ways than one.

My Symptoms…

The symptoms were hard, fast, and debilitating at times. It wasn’t bad every day, but when it was, it was really bad.

  • Trouble sleeping… I would wake up every night at 3am which is not typical for me at all.
  • Anxiety 
  • Mood swings 
  • Acne 
  • Weight gain… I can just tell hormonal weight gain on my body. I was holding onto 7-8 pounds of hormonal weight gain that wouldn’t budge
  • Migraines 
  • Leg cramps 
  • Shooting back pain 
  • Cysts 

What my lab work said…

  • My thyroid and inflammation levels are still good (thankfully some positive news!)
  • I was estrogen dominant
  • I was low in progesterone 
  • I’m very low in Vitamin D 
  • I had elevated liver enzymes
  • I had freakishly high beta-glucaronidase 
  • I was in stage 2 adrenal fatigue (which is hopefully improving)
  • I was mineral deficient 
  • I’m highly mercury toxic (more on this in another post… omg…) 

Clearly, I had a lot of work to do. I’ve come a long way and am still working on it, but I’m finally starting to feel relief. 

How I Balanced My Hormones Naturally 

(and am still working on it)

How I Balanced My Hormones Naturally

1.I Zeroed In on Blood Sugar Control and Cut Out Starches In Excess

Blood sugar is so important for your hormones! I repeat, please care about your blood sugar. Please care about how many carbs and sugars you eat (even natural, real food sources), how much fat and protein you pair it with, and how often you eat. You want your meals to be balanced. That balance is different for everyone, but generally speaking, you don’t want half of your meals to be fruit and sweet potatoes. You want fat, protein, and a balance of vegetable based carbs.

Our hormones of blood sugar sugar control of part of our entire endocrine cascade. Our hormones have to balanced, right? Spikes in our blood sugar mean imbalances in our hormones. Ever get hangry after just having a smoothie for breakfast? What about running to the bathroom at 2 am? Or feeling tired at 3 pm and only feeling relief from eating. All signs that your blood sugar is imbalanced. 

I began to notice that the more starches and sugar I ate throughout the month, the worse my flares were. I was more anxious, had more acne, more pain, and I was just a wreck

So, here’s what I did…

  • I cut out/ cut down on starches like starchy flours (cassava, tapioca, sweet potato, etc.) 
  • I focused on eating more non-starchy veggies like carrots, squash, etc. and cooking them in lots of fat! 
  • I do fruit in moderation and as treats
  • I made sure I had little to no caffeine. Maybe a matcha here and there, but no daily coffee for sure. 

 

2. I Focused On Cutting Down My Stress Levels

I firmly believe that stress was the finally nail in the coffin of this flare, so it was the key to really getting rid of it. Stress in all forms (physical, emotional, etc.) spikes our cortisol which throws off our entire hormone cascade. I knew that my adrenals were seriously fatigued, and that I was incredibly stressed. Stress is the one thing that I always encourage my clients to really take an honest look at. We must reduce stress as much as possible to help rebalance our hormones and stop spikes and dips in stress hormone levels. But it’s easier said than done…

Stress is hard. It comes in so many different forms, and it’s impossible to get rid of stress altogether. 

There comes a point where we need to just accept a certain level of stress in our lives. We’ll never get rid of it altogether, so we just have to find ways to manage it and get rid of unnecessary stress. Stress reduction means something different for everyone. We can’t just drop our responsibilities, so we have to find a way to balance.

So, here’s what I did…

  • I worked really hard to transition away from my 8-5 job and do part time office work, consulting, and work on my own business (more on that here)
  • Spent more time outside
  • I take at least one evening a week to not have any obligations or appointments and just relax
  • I spend more time with God 

 

3. I Kept Working On My Gut

Because it all begins in the gut, right? Our mood, our hormones, everything! Little did I know that the biggest factor to my hormones was still in my gut. I know that working on my gut is a lifelong journey, and I’m up for the challenge. 

So, let’s talk beta-glucaronidase. I had never really heard of this before I realized mine was so high. Beta-glucaronidase is an enzyme that becomes elevated from unfriendly gut bacteria. The enzyme stops us from detoxing things like old hormones, and these old hormones keep recirculating in our system… which is why I had the same symptoms for months. This was the big hairy monster in my flare. Beta-glucarondiase can be found on a stool test, and it’s imperative to lower it as it’s associated with cancer of the prostate, colon, and breast cancer. 

Our gut health is huge, huge, huge. That’s why I literally wrote a book on healing your gut, and why I talk so often about healing foods like bone broth. I focus on it with all of my clients and believe that in todays toxic world, working on your gut health is an ongoing process.

A few years ago I couldn’t go a single day without having some sort of stomach ache, pain, bloating, or mystery reaction to food. Though still I have an off day here and there, I’m blown away with how far I’ve come and how much my quality of life has improved as a result. Regardless, there’s apparently still on going work to do.

Here’s what I did…

  • I worked with my doctor to get on some supplements (like calcium d-glucarate) to help out my elevated beta-glucaronidase and am continuing to work with her on treating the root cause.
  • I cut out excess starches and sugars to stop feeding bad gut bacteria. This was huge for me and I never thought I could do it! It’s not that my gut flora is depleted… quite the opposite. I had a huge diversity in my gut of both good and bad bacteria. My strategy for rebalancing has been to favor good bacteria with the right ferments, and starve bad bacteria which is part of cutting out starches and sugars which they feed on! 
  • I followed all of the principles for on-going gut healing as laid out in my e-book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Guide.

 

4. I Started Exercising Smarter 

Getting out of my routine during the stressful summer meant getting out of my workout routine. I went from a normal routine that was working for me to just not really moving with purpose at all. 

A lot of what I was dealing with my hormone flare was inflammation, and the right kind of exercise and restorative movement with purpose can be great for reducing inflammation. Everyone’s routine will be different, and actually getting into a routine is half the battle, but exercise makes such huge difference in hormone balance when we don’t over or under do it.

Here’s what I do now…

  • Walking is my anchor and I take walks several times a week
  • I try to go to a yoga class at least twice a week
  • I also try to practice yoga at home on off days for even just 10-20 minutes to get in some movement and stretch. I’m loving Yoga with Adrienne videos. 
  • I’ll strength train with weights (which I love) once or twice a week or go to a more challenging yoga class 
  • If I’m having an off week, I’ll only walk and do restorative yoga 

 

5. I Worked With My Doctor To Supplement Smarter  

I always stress that we need to be working with a practitioner one on one with things like supplementation, because I was way off on my own routine!

I’m not really going to share the exact supplements my doctor recommended for me in depth, because the last thing I want anyone doing is just grabbing what I’m on and taking that. More likely than not, it won’t work for you like it is me. You’ll likely need something different.

In short, my doctor helped me with mineral support, Vitamin D, progesterone, and initial mercury detox support. 

How My Symptoms Have Improved… 

  • I sleep perfectly!
  • My skin is better 
  • My mood swings are basically gone
  • No more headaches or migraines 
  • I shed most of my hormonal weight 
  • I’m way less stressed
  • I’m only anxious about stupid this and not irrational things (because I’m still quirky, y’all… driving with loud music makes anxious… I’m weird 😛 ) 

What I’m Still Working On…

  • Mercury detox! This is a huge bear and throws everything off in your body. More on this as I continue down this path, but it’s just starting for me. 
  • Mineral status. 
  • My gut flora and the beta-glucaronidaise. A constant journey as well!
  • My vitamin D which has been low for years, y’all 
  • My back pain still gets iffy at certain times… working on my inflammation and everything else above for this

 

So, phew! There you have it. Like I said, this is a constant journey. I’m still in the thick of it every day and have lots of work to keep doing. What I do know, is that I’m beyond grateful that I’m able to manage these shifts naturally with real food and lifestyle changes, and not birth control anymore. There’s a lot to know, and much still to learn, but as always, I’ll be here to share! 

The Best Foods For Healing Hashimoto’s Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid disease at 17, all I knew was that levothyroixine and synthroid were the only medicines that could help me. That’s what doctors told me, that’s what other people on the internet were saying at the time and that’s all I ever knew. However, I had slowly come to learn that the food I ate could be a powerful medicine for supporting my body and healing my Hashimoto’s. Healing my own Hashimoto’s disease was done with holistic practices, treating the root cause, and real food. That’s why I’m excited to share this list of the best foods for healing hashimoto’s disease!

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that begins the same way every other one does… in the gut. Our gut houses our immune system and the gut integrity is crucial to whether or not we develop autoimmunity. Giving our gut healing foods that both help heal the gut itself and give our body proper nutrients is crucial to achieving health with autoimmunity!

Now, it’s always important to stress that food alone is not the savior. Yes, I said it. Food a’int everythang. It seriously cannot fix everything just like it’s not the one thing that caused the problem. Food provides the nutrients and it’s one of the few things that we can actually control, but it’s just a piece of it. For me, I had to address my digestion, heal my gut, focus on my adrenals, minerals, blood sugar, and the like before I could every really make a real dent in healing. I talk a lot more about that in this post, and in my e-book the 30 Day Gut Healing guide. 

Disclaimers, aside that food won’t solve all of your problems, it will help tremendously! I always say that my number one biggest change in my health came from diet and it’s true. It gave me the most results the quickest, and really, it makes sense. Food can either be super inflammatory, or it can provide our body with nutrients needed to do it’s job correctly! Here are the top 8 foods to healing Hashimoto’s…

Best Foods For Healing Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease

1.Organic Vegetables & Herbs

Veggies first, y’all. 

I think regardless of what diet we follow, we can all agree that veggies and herbs are incredibly healing, and nutrient dense. Contrary to popular belief, the paleolithic man was not primarily meat based… they still ate mostly plants. Organic vegetables and herbs are full of phytonutrients that allow us to thrive. They give us energy, vitamins, minerals, and help the body heal. The general recommended value for a veggie packed diet is up to 9 cups a day. 

However, not all veggies are created equal. Especially when you’re dealing with Hashimoto’s there are two different veggie groups that I would be careful with… nightshades and goitrogens. 

Nightshades are…

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Goji berries 

After years with Hashimoto’s, I eventually discovered that nightshades were my worst trigger for flares. They’re often associated with joint pain, and they’re avoided on the autoimmune protocol for their tendency to cause inflammation. Not everyone reacts poorly, but it’s best to be cautious. I recommend many folks to avoid them for a period and reintroduce them to see how they react. If you’re like me, you’ll stay without

Goitrogenic vegetables include…

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts etc.

These vegetables are known to slow down your thyroid in large amounts and when eaten raw. However, the best way to combat this is to eat them cooked and in moderation raw. A kale salad here and there or some raw broccoli won’t kill you, but they really are best cooked. 

So what vegetables are “safe”?

  • Cooked gotrigentic veggies
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Ginger
  • Jicama
  • Lettuce 
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • etc.! 

2. Vegetable Starches

We’re told that whole grains are healthy, full of fiber and that we should be eating more grains than vegetables. I highly beg to differ. Whole grains can be very inflammatory to the gut and not productive in an autoimmune state. I’m 95% grain free (I have rice on occasion) and know many others with autoimmunity who are the same are report great results.

However, we still need carbohydrates, especially with Hashimoto’s (read why here). That’s why we need to lean on vegetable starches rather than go grain heavy. What does that mean?

  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Carrots
  • Winter and summer squash
  • Plantains
  • Parsnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips

As a recovered pizza and french fry queen, I always thought that there as no way I’d be able to live without them. Not only is that the wrong way to think about it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Trust me, I am just as happy and much healthier munching on my parsnip fries.

Duck Fat Parsnip Fries

3. Bone Broth & Fermented Foods

Bone broth for life, y’all. Seriously, you guys know I’m obsessed with bone broth. It’s basically the green juice of animal protein. It’s made from  grass-fed bones cooked over 24-48 hours to draw out the vitamins, and minerals. The gelatin in broth helps heal damaged gut lining and the easy to digest minerals support our healing as a whole! 

Here are some great recipes for bone broth:

Fermented veggies are another big one for gut health. Basically every indigenous culture had some sort of ferment, but we’ve completely stopped doing it. They’re rich in probiotics that feed our good gut bacteria and support a healthy gut and immune system! Fermented vegetables can be enjoyed in sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, and basically anything else you can ferment. 

Here are some great fermented food recipes:

These are traditional foods that are important to consume as often as possible to heal the gut, and daily if possible.

4. Sea Vegetables

These are another long forgotten traditional food that are packed with minerals, notably selenium and iodine which are both very low in our modern diets.

Iodine is very controversial in the Hashimoto’s community, and where most of the data leans is that high dose supplementation is not productive for Hashimoto’s and can actually be harmful. So though it’s important not to overdue sea vegetables as too much iodine can be harmful to Hashimoto’s, it’s also good to be mindful about adding in some seaweed, kelp or sea vegetables here and there to get some added minerals and a basic level of iodine. 

My favorite way to add in sea veggies is to snack of seasnax a couple of times a week. They’re easy to snack on, and seriously yummy! 

5. Healthy Fats

Fats are demonized for all of the wrong reason. Healthy fats are the building blocks of our hormones which regulate processes in the body and the thyroid! 

Poor quality fats equals poor quality hormones and poor quality bile which equals poor quality digestion. It’s so important to make sure we’re eating enough fat, and the right fats to stay healthy and nourished. So what are healthy fats?

  • Avocado
  • Coconut 
  • Pasture raised animal fats (like tallow, lard, schmaltz, etc.)
  • Grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Olive oil
  • Properly prepared nuts

6. Wild Caught Fish

Wild caught fish is a super food! It’s packed with anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids which is necessary for regulating inflammation. 

I’m going to label an extreme caution with certain kinds of fish however… and that’s fish that’s high in mercury. I’m talking tuna (yes, even canned), shark, swordfish, orange roughy, and other large fish. Mercury poisoning is very real (actually, I have very high mercury that I’m working on detoxing from… more on that later) and it’s terrible for those of us with Hashimoto’s as mercury can inhibit selenium absorption which is crucial for a healthy thyroid. Be extremely cautious with these fish and only eat them on rare occasions.

So what are better fish to eat?

  • Shellfish in moderation
  • Salmon
  • Sardines 
  • Cod 
  • Scallops
  • Flounder
  • Herring
  • Trout

Salmon is one of my favorite foods, so I find it easy to get in lots of wild caught fish! I love enjoying salmon bowls or my AIP salmon cakes… yum!

7. Pastured Meats

Similar to fat, meat also gets an extremely bad reputation as being the antithesis of health. I hated meat for the first 23 years of my life. Except for chicken nuggets 😉 But really, I thought meat was so “bad for you” and I hated the way it tasted.

Let’s get one thing straight… CAFO, conventional meat is terrible for you. I’m taking the stuff you just buy off the shelf or get in restaurants that came from a feedlot. That is full of hormones, and was fed GMO grain. Even “organic” meat was fed organic grain which still isn’t suitable for animal consumption. 

However, meat that was raised on pasture, and fed grass is much higher quality and better for human consumption. It ate it’s natural diet, it got sunlight, and it lived a humane life. Look for local pasture raised meat, or check out retailers like US Wellness Meats for high quality meat online.

I recommend eating whatever your body wants for pasture raised protein from beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, etc. Oh, and you can still get down with some chicken nuggets, my friend. Try my sweet potato chicken poppers made with pasture raised chicken 😉 

Sweet Potato Chicken Poppers (Paleo, AIP)

8. Lower Sugar Fruits 

Like vegetables, certain fruits can be rich in vitamins and phytochemicals. However, they’re far more sugar-y than vegetables. Though sugar from fruit is much less harmful than refined cane sugar, it’s still important to not over do it on any sugar in general. It still spikes your blood sugar in excess which leads to inflammation and hormonal imbalance.

High sugar fruits like mango, bananas, grapes, or dates are fine treats in moderation.

However, in any disease state, it’s much better to steer towards lower sugar fruits like green apples, and berries!

 

I hope these tips about healing foods for Hashimoto’s have been helpful! Eat up, friends 🙂 

How I Reversed My Hashimoto’s Disease Naturally

It’s been eight long years since I first presented with Hashimoto’s disease symptoms, and likely over a decade since the war started in my body.  It’s estimated that up to 90% of women who are dealing with hypothyroidism are actually suffering from Hashimoto’s. An autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, Hashimoto’s has an epically long list of symptoms. From fatigue, to weight gain, to hair loss, to cold intolerance… I had them all, and against all odds at the time, I stand here today having reversed Hashimoto’s naturally.

Conventional medicine tells us to treat the symptoms of diseases like Hashimoto’s with pharmaceuticals that make us forget our troubles for a while, but never really heals the root cause of why we even got Hashimoto’s in the first place. So maybe our weight gain stalls for a few months, but one life event, stressor, or even just a fluke and we’re back to square one… sound familiar? That’s exactly what happened to me… 

After just a couple of short years on high doses of thyroid medication and still riding the Hashimoto’s roller coaster, I was over it. 

I had to become my own health advocate and literally go to school to become a nutritional therapy practitioner myself, but I was determined to get better! And little by little, day by day, I did it!

And I am so excited to share with you how I reversed my Hashimoto’s naturally to help you on your healing journey!

I went from hypothyroid… fatigue, weight gain, intolerance to cold.

To very hyperthyroid… heart palpitations, panic attacks, jittery feelings.

To stable… and while not eating whatever I want and pushing myself to my breaking point, still healthy, and thriving.

While I still don’t consider myself miraculously healed for all of eternity and that I could never experience a flare again (gotta keep up with my GF humble pie, y’all), my life today isn’t occupied by constant Hashimoto’s symptoms… so how did I do it?

How I Reversed My Hashimoto’s Disease Naturally 

How I Reversed Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease Naturally

1. I focused on healing my gut and digestion.

In the words of Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut” as 70-80% of our immune system being located in our digestive system! This is true for everything, but particularly autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s.

The autoimmune gut connection comes in when our intestines become permeable, or “leaky” (hence leaky gut) and molecules of the food enters our blood where our body is confused by these forgien substances and attacks them. Molecular mimicry takes place where these foods looks like our own body, and the immune system attacks our own organs or organ systems. 

Healing the gut and digestion is vital to healing autoimmunity. 

So what’s the “secret” for healing your gut and digestion? In short…

  1. Follow a healing protocol like AIP, Paleo, GAPS, low-FODMAP, etc. while researching which is best for you. I follow an AIP (autoimmune protocol) template and find it works best for me.
  2. Work a practitioner to treat infections and imbalances.
  3. Supplement with digestive support, enzymes, and hydrochloric acid when needed.
  4. Reduce stress and inflammation from food, lifestyle, etc.
  5. Up your beneficial bacteria with probiotics, fermented foods, and more.
  6. Remove inflammatory foods and add healing foods. More on that below…

I’ve outlined these principles and more in detail in my e-book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide, which is an amazing resource for taking your first step with managing chronic illness!

2. I ate for nutrient density.

Cutting out stress and inflammation in the form of foods such as junky oils, gluten, sugars, etc. is hugely beneficial… but it’s not enough. I went years thinking that as long as I wasn’t eating gluten, I could eat whatever gluten free packaged food I could find and it would be fine. I’m looking at you, Rice Chex. 

To truly heal ourselves we need to eat nutrient dense foods that are seasonal, local, and filled with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to thrive. 

When I first went AIP, it was the first time in my life that I went from eating processed junk to trying to eat as much real, local food as I could possibly get. That meant hitting the Google search bar to find a farmers market near by, digging around even more to find a local co-op and a CSA, and leaning on grocery stores like Natural Grocers to find nutrient dense food. 

Nutrient density comes from foods like…

  • Fresh vegetables like beets, carrots, celery, kale, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato… etc! 
  • Homemade bone broth
  • Wild caught fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and shellfish.
  • Pasture raised meats like grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, pastured chicken, etc.
  • Healthy fats like avocado, pastured animal fats, olive oil, coconut oil and nuts (if tolerated). 

It simply just doesn’t come from a box!

 

 

 

 

 

3. I customized my diet to fit my own intolerances.

Food intolerances are incredibly complicated. Food allergy test like IgG tests simply aren’t 100% reliable, yet most of us still have more intolerances than only foods avoided on AIP.  

It’s important to monitor how you feel with foods, track your symptoms, and even utilize pulse testing to test your intolerance to foods. 

For me, I found that foods like spinach, and pineapple (among others) are just not my friends. It sounds weird, but when we think about all of the weird things that are done to the food supply and how sick it makes us, it’s not entirely farfetched.  

4. I actively worked to heal my adrenal dysfunction.

I’ll be honest, I never even heard of adrenal fatigue before I started studying to become a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP). However, I came to find that adrenal health is crucial for thyroid health and that I had stage 2 adrenal fatigue.

Your adrenal glands regulate your fight or flight response and cortisol from the adrenal process sits above thyroid hormone on the endocrine cascade. When the adrenal process gets worn out from it throws the entire hormone cascade. That’s the nutshell version, but check out this book for more… it’s way too good!

When I was in my most recent hyperthyroid flare, I was planning my wedding, working a full-time job, in school, writing this blog, working a consulting gig, all while still trying to keep up with AIP… and I wondered why I flared.

It may look fluffy and cute, but in reality, adrenals were screaming at me in this photo on my wedding day! 

I’ll never forget how completely and utterly exhausted I was when I collapsed into the limo on the end of that day.

You don’t have to just be planning a wedding to suffer adrenal fatigue. It can be stress at work, a big life event, or even a side effect of another illness. Adrenal fatigue is so widespread, and it’s symptoms are all too familiar. Low energy, salt cravings, poor sleep, etc. We’re most likely all suffering from different levels of it or have in the past. So what do you even do?

  1. Remove the stress of inflammation from inflammatory foods. For myself on an AIP template, that was ditching grains, dairy, nightshades, added sugar and taking a break from nuts and seeds.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary stressors. Look for the low hanging fruit of high stress in your life and work to resolve it. Like, did I seriously need to be working like 5 jobs during my wedding planning? No. Think, Michelle. Chill. 
  3. Focus on prayer, meditation and mindfulness. Prayer and scripture really helps me put my situation into perspective, and calms me down. I take a few minutes each day to let that perspective sink in and re-center myself. 
  4. Supplement mindfully. Most of my own NTP clients that I work with wind up on adrenal support (herbal or glandular) and I’m on an herbal supplement as well. 

5. I worked on regulating my blood sugar.

Before I even started addressing my adrenal health, I was aware that I had blood sugar issues from a blood test that I had gotten done back when I was in the middle of a flare. I was confused and scared about what it meant and wasn’t getting good answers from any of my doctors. Did I have to worry about diabetes? Was I insulin resistant? Doctors weren’t giving me the time of day, and I knew it was an issues.

Blood sugar matters for everyone (especially those with Hashimoto’s) because it’s a huge stressor on your body and endocrine system.

 Let’s just say you have hashimoto’s… and adrenal fatigue (raises hand)… your body is already working too hard to reach a homeostasis with all of this craziness, so now you’re going to throw all of this sugar at it? Bad idea. Blood sugar spikes stress out your body, your adrenals, and do absolutely no good for your thyroid.

I came to find also through my NTP work that I was eating way too much sugar. Even with avoiding processed foods, I was still eating too much fruit and carbs by themselves. Here’s what I focused on… 

  1. Cut out added sugars. Be honest with yourself… are there added sugars in your life? Say goodbye.
  2. Focus on scaling down to reasonable serving sizes. In nature, we would rarely have the opportunity to eat 5 servings of fruit a day which is why we see such a spike in our blood sugar from doing so. Try to keep your serving sizes down to help regulate your blood sugar and control cravings.
  3. Pair carbs with fat and protein. Fat is slow burning fuel, where as sugar burns incredibly quickly. That’s why when you have a bagel for breakfast, you’re hungry at 10am. Your body burns through it so quickly and needs more fast, whereas fat and protein keeps you fuller longer! Pairing my plantains with avocado, and other carbs with fats and protein helped me avoid blood sugar swings and cravings.

6. I reduced the intensity of my workouts.

When dealing with an illness like Hashimoto’s when the body is already under stress, intense exercise can be just as much of a stress on our body and adrenals as conventional stress is.

I did crossfit for years after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and though I loved the endorphin rush and the empowering feeling from weight lifting, it started to catch up with me. On top of all of the other stress in my life my body just wasn’t at the point where doing super intense workouts were serving me at the time. Though it made me incredibly sad, I turned in my wrist wraps for my yoga mat and saw such a change in my desire and ability to work out. 

When I first stepped back from Crossfit during my stressful wedding planning, I just started going to yoga 2-3 times a week. It felt like a huge decrease, but it was so empowering! It was great for my adrenals, my mindset, and my body. 

Today, I still try to get to yoga minimum once a week, and have picked up weight lifting again and enjoy regular walks and hikes. It’s not as “cool” as crossfit, but it’s been a huge piece in my healing.

7. I adopted a healing mindset.

Like I said, I’m not perfect. Just because I made progress now doesn’t mean that I won’t ever backslide. It also doesn’t mean that a flare just won’t ever happen again.

All I can do is learn from the steps that I took to make progress now, try to stay as balanced as I can, and adopt that a healing mindset that this journey is for the long haul! 30 day restarts help get you on track, but real healing goes so much further beyond food, and further beyond 30 days. 

So what is a healing mindset? Well, in my opinion… 

  1. Recognizing that this may not be a permanent state of being. I may be doing well now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever flare again. It won’t always be perfect, and the more that I remember that, the more that it grounds me.
  2. Being grateful. Even on the worst days, there’s something to be grateful for. I always acknowledge when I feel good and healthy, and it helps increase my health further!
  3. Dumping what society says about health. Society says we need 80/20 and everything in moderation to be healthy. I just can’t eat junk food in moderation and stay healthy. The more I believe that I need junk food, the more I want it. I had to let got on societies notion that we need junk and bad lifestyle practices to be healthy, and fully embrace a healing lifestyle.
  4. Acknowledging that this is for the long haul. I may be way better than I was, but I’m not eating donuts and partying until 2am either. This healing lifestyle is for the long haul if I’m going to maintain it, and that’s okay!

8. I worked with a practitioner. 

Apart from all of the natural treatment in the world, I still believe that we need to work with a practitioner to address our issues and help us on our healing path. A good functional doctor and nutritionist can be a huge role in healing naturally. 

I work with a MD that practices functional medicine, and it’s incredibly beneficial. I also work one on one as a nutritional therapy practitioner myself (both remote and in person) and see an amazing transformation in my own clients when we’re just addressing diet and lifestyle! As a nutritionist, I don’t give medical advice, so I always still recommend my own nutritional therapy clients to have a doctor that they trust that can give them medical advice. 

9. I trust in God.

Before I ever put bone broth anywhere near my body, and way before I ever got Hashimoto’s, my faith is God has already healed me so much further than any good lifestyle practices.

Throughout the course of my disease, I’ve seen God’s hand at work. Even in the darkest moments, I know that He is guiding me. It’s easy to want to get mad, and sometimes I do, but I trust that He is leading me through this.

My Hashimoto’s has lead me to share my story to help others, and to become a more conscious and grateful human being, and for that I am grateful!

 

This is my journey… and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world! Your journey may need more tweaking, but I assure you that living well with this this disease, and chronic illness in general in possible!

 What I hope you take away from this is that it’s not all about medication alone, it’s not all about food alone… it’s not about any of this alone! None of this has existed in a vacuum for me, nor do any aspects of our lives. There are so many cofactors, so many different ways to balance our lives, and a holistic approach is always best.

My hope for you is that you find what works for you, and that you too can become healthier and happier in doing so.

My Healing Story | Hashimoto’s & Leaky Gut

At the young age of 17, my life changed for what I now know was for the better. I went from being what a doctor would call was a relatively healthy child, to a statistic. Another woman doomed to deal with thyroid problems for the rest of her life, and likely struggle with weight, infertility, and chronic fatigue.

My hashimoto’s diagnosis was a shock… it rocked my world. I was scared, I was confused, but to quote Monty Python, “I got better”. Is that insensitive? But really, it looked bleak, but I healed. It was possible for me, and is for you, which is why I share my story. 

My Early Symptoms 

My symptoms started when I was 16. I didn’t realize it then, but the amount of fatigue that experienced was not normal. I would come home from school and immediately go to bed. 

The fatigue that lasted a year finally came to a head with my first autoimmune flare as it worsened, and invited more unwanted symptoms friends. Though not typical of all Hashimoto’s patients, I first experienced a hyperthyroid swing and experienced weight losssevere heart palpitations that would reoccur daily, mood swings, and regular fainting spells.. Throw in way too many days off of school, and unexplained food allergies, and I was off to a specialist, after specialist. 

My Diagnosis with Hashimoto’s

The pediatrician wrote me off. I mean, I was 17 and totally over the pediatrician, but they were zero help to me. I would come in with complaints of heart palpitations and a clear 20 lb weight loss, and was told that I “drank too much energy drinks”. 

From there, it was onto the chiropractor, the OBGYN, and the cardiologist. All of which also gave me eye roll answers, until the cardiologist told me that it was ridiculous that my doctor hadn’t checked my thyroid yet. 

Though I did have my thyroid tested several times, my TSH was always normal for months and months. Finally, my TSH dropped below normal and that one blood test became the canary in the coal mine that got me referred to a Endocrinologist who diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s disease. 

I was confused, I was tired, and I was told over and over again that my diagnosis was entirely abnormal. That thyroid problems were “only for menopausal women”. I felt like an outsider, and that I was totally alone in my diagnosis. I desperately wanted to get better but struggled to find others to compare my journey to at the time. 

My Initial Treatment 

My endocrinologist was a typical, allopathic straight shooter who had to Google “Celiac Disease” during one on of our appointments. So, it was no wonder that the first drug I was put on was levothyroixine. This was also by far the worst thyroid medication that I took that had the worst symptoms for me personally. I was depressed, my hair thinned, and I put on more weight than I had initially lost. I was miserable.

While on levothyroixine, I started my freshman year of college as a dietetic major. I loved food and nutrition and determined to find the way to heal myself through whole foods. That’s where a gluten free diet came in. I loosely learned about the connection to Hashimoto’s and gluten in school, and went all in. Well, if you can call gluten free waffles and occasional gluten cheats all in. My approach was tremendously flawed as a result of never really getting a real food education in college, and I suffered for it as my diet continued to get more and more carb-centric. 

After switching doctors somewhere along the way, I was then put on synthroid which I surprisingly had a better reaction to than levothyroxine. I can’t stress enough that we’re all individuals and what worked for me likely won’t work 100% for the next person, but I was slightly better on synthroid. Not good, but better. I stabilized enough to where I wasn’t getting heart palpitations daily anymore, but I was far from thriving. 

My Relapse

At 20, I decided that my lack of real food education from Dietetics wasn’t the path I wanted to go down, and I transferred to a new school and changed my major. The summer before and my first semester at this new school was one of the lowest points in my life, and the worst flare I experienced. 

I began have worsened digestive issues as my diet shrunk down to smoothies, egg whites, yogurt, sweet potato, and oatmeal with the occasional gluten free grilled cheese. I could barely stomach even these limited foods, let alone add in more. Everything I ate made me nauseous, hurt my stomach, or made me incredibly tired. 

This fatigue that was always followed by a meal was crippling. I would go to class for 5 hours a day, spend 1 hour on homework, and literally spend the remaining 18 hours a day sleeping. I had no energy to get out of bed, and would frequently cry at my lack of ability to accomplish even the simplest tasks. 

Then came the panic attacks. I recall one experience in particular where I was leaving my parents house after eating homemade french fries, then stopping for gas, and having what felt like an out of body experience. One second I was stepping out of my car, and the next I was hysterical, and felt like I was dying. I jumped back into the car bawled for longer that I even care to remember.

Clearly, something had to change.

 My Healing Story : Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and leaky gut

My Leaky Gut Epiphany   

When a family friend suggested I see a holistic doctor for my issues, I was in. I was willing to do literally anything to get out of the situation I was in. The doctor immediately mentioned leaky gut and administered a food intolerance test. I was afraid that it would all come back negative and that I was hypochondriac. However, quite the opposite happened. My immune markers were through the roof, and I had tons of food intolerances which had indicated a leaky gut. 

Leaky gut is essentially increased intestinal permeability, and is often the root cause of any autoimmunity like Hashimoto’s. Food that passes through our digestive barriers confuses our immune system and it begins to attack itself. 

I was likely dealing with this for three main reasons…

  1. I ate a terrible diet that didn’t feed good gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria contribute to the overall integrity of our gut, and when we feed them terrible food, they don’t thrive.
  2. I had terrible digestion, nausea, bloating, and reflux my entire life. Poor digestion is one of the biggest culprits of prolonged leaky gut. If our food is poorly digested in our stomach, of course it’ll damaging our small intestines. 
  3.  I took a crap ton on NSAID’s prior to my Hashimoto’s diagnosis because I had “headaches. NSAID use in excess is terrible for our gut lining and immune function. I was borderline addicted for my headaches (which were likely caused by the two points above), and regret every second of it. 

My Gut Healing Mistakes

My initial treatment for leaky gut was different than what I follow now and would recommend for my own clients. I followed only what my food allergy test said and wound up still eating dairy, most grains, and tons of crappy processed foods while on my first “healing” protocol because they were safe on my allergy test. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful. I wrote an entire post about this, here. 

My Healing Diet That Actually Worked For Me

After experiencing yet another flare at 23, I was beyond over it and decided to take it seriously which is where I adopted more of a Autoimmune Protocol to eliminate the dairy and grains that I assumed were safe for me as well as seed spices, etc. It was a fairly easy transition as I had already tested intolerant for gluten, and nightshades and had been off them for three years, but it was totally different than what I had done before. Within a matter of months, I saw a huge difference in my energy and a bigger difference when I actually tried to add those foods back in and saw the negative effects that they had on my symptoms. Flares and symptoms that I was having for years that I could never really tie to any food became very apparently connected to poor quality dairy, grains like processed oatmeal, and seed spices. 

Beyond just eliminating foods, I also focused on adding foods in that were nutrient dense and nourishing like warm soups made with bone broth, tons and tons of veggies, pastured meats and liver pate. Healing doesn’t come from removing foods… it comes from those that we add in! 

Finally, I did more than just focus on food, but I healed my digestive process. I slowed down to eat, I learned to actually chew my food, I found the enzymes that work for me, and I balanced my meals to help them better digest. 

With just diet and digestive healing alone, my energy was sustained, my panic attacks were gone, and my weight and mood stabilized. I finally reached the point where I was healing.

My Supplements

Of course, the supplements will vary for you, but here is what worked for me…

  • IPS from Biotics for Gut Healing
  • Gastrazyme from Bitoics for Gut Healing
  • Glutatime Powder
  • Collagen Peptides
  • Glutathione Supplements for my MTHFR 
  • Selenium

Adrenal Health & Stress Reduction was a Missing Piece 

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was seriously adrenally fatigued and chronically stressed. I stayed at bad jobs, bad relationship, and the like because I felt stuck. Little did I know that the stress on my emotions was transferring as stress on the body which impacted everything downstream including my thyroid levels and gut health. 

I had to be honest with myself… this was the one thing that I couldn’t fix with diet alone. I learned from that really changing your stress levels and healing your adrenals comes from a mindset shift. I had to quit intense exercise, staying up late, and feeling like the world was out to get me. Not only did my gut health and thyroid levels heal further as a result, but so much more of my hormone health as well.

Support Matters

Marrying my amazing husband was a God send for my healing. He supports me, he lets me cry, he asks friends at parties whats in food for me, and he doesn’t care that I don’t buy him kraft singles. Having support from family and friends has been huge to me actually healing and getting over some of my emotional trauma from getting sick at a young age. My husband makes me feel normal, and I’m forever grateful.

Not only does support from others matter, but supporting yourself matters. Allow myself independence by learning to cook, and giving myself permission to have bad days is just as important as having a supportive spouse. We should always be our biggest health advocates.

Most importantly, support and trust from God, other Godly people and prayer! God is sovereign over even the littlest things in our life, and prayer was so powerful for me in my darkest times.

Routine and Planning is Crucial 

 Finally, getting into a routine where this became my life rather than a restrictive healing protocol was what made this all sustainable. Setting a new bedtime, changing my exercise routine, and prepping all of my food ahead of time to eliminate stress have been the biggest changes that have made the most difference.

My Life Today

Shocker, my life still isn’t perfect even after I’ve reduced my antibody count. I still have to go to the DMV and have the occasional thyroid-y day here and there. However, the bulk of my days are free from heart palpitations, fainting, panic attacks, and chronic fatigue and my hashimoto’s antibodies are within normal range! I still supplement and test my levels regularly, but I’m no longer debilitated by terrible symptoms. 

Though my gut health has come a long way, I have to be honest with myself and recognize that it was so bad for so long and I still need to be nice to it. I can’t just jump back into a SAD diet (and frankly, I don’t believe anyone should) and grains and nightshades just don’t serve me. My diet is still paired down a bit, but I mostly don’t mind. I eat tons of veggies, pastured meats, fruits, and occasional egg yolks, rice, sunflower butter, chocolate, and coffee. Here’s the thing… real food actually tastes good. Once you get over the whole, “OMG I can’t have Oreo’s?!” mentality, life is just way better all around. 

My Advice To You 

My advice to you as a reader who may relate to some of what I went through is to not give up. Don’t feel unloveable and like you’ll never be a success story. Healing does not happen overnight. Your time will come with patience, effort, and trust!

Why I Stopped trying to Lose Weight with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism

Summer is on the way, and all of the social pressures to start trying to lose weight are right on schedule. Magazines with scantily clad celebrities claiming they have 5 secrets to lose weight, commercials for low fat fruity yogurt that will help you squeeze into a bikini, workout info graphics and “fitpiration” on Pinterest… we all see it and we all feel pressure. Some more than others, and I know that those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism like myself fit into the “more than others category”. However, after seven years of having Hashimoto’s during what arguably is the most body conscious years of a woman’s life, I’ve thrown in the towel and have altogether stopped trying to lose weight with Hashimoto’s. 

I was 17 when I was first diagnosed with the autoimmune thyroid disease that often results in weight gain. I was under as much pressure as any other girl to look thin, and I felt like I was out of control of my weight. Though my weight gain was never more than 20 lbs at the most, I struggled and I tried over and over again to shed the unwanted weight. 

When I Tried To Lose Weight 

In college, I became addicted to calorie counting to try and normalize my weight. I would plan everything that I was going to eat one day in advance to make sure everything added up, and follow according to plan. Anything that had a label was welcome in my diet, including M&M’s, Reeses’s (the seasonal one’s were my vice… oh pumpkins…) and whatever restaurant food I could look up in my little calorie counter of choice was fair game. Though I understood the need to be gluten free with my diagnosis, and even spent my first two years of college as a Dietetics major, I paid no mind to food quality and felt repulsed by many real foods. I was only focused on calories and getting away with as much as could all while trying to avoid my frequent hanger episodes. 

Along with calorie counting, I also became obsessed with how many calories I was burning, and how much I was exercising. I was a regular elliptical goer, cardio kick boxer, you name it. I would spend entire days on the treadmill, in the gym, and doing random workouts that I found on some exercise TV channel. While trying to obsessively log my calories one day, I remember once asking my dad if the 7 minute warm up during a 30 minute belly dancing TV workout also counted towards my calorie burn… as if my dad was an expert in calories expended doing TV workout video belly dancing warm ups. 

An undernourished, over exercised me fueled by coffee, gluten free bagels and the hopes and dreams of a flat stomach. Circa 2009. I would sleep constantly, and would experience regular Hashimoto’s flares. (Also, dat phone.)

I joined three different CrossFit gyms in total, went through more calorie counters than I can remember, and cried many tears over feeling out of control of my weight… because no matter how hard I tried, I would still gain unexplained weight with my thyroid problems. 

My Breaking Point…

I experiences a lot of days of reckoning over the last several years. I’ve felt over it, I’ve been exhausted, and I’ve spent way too much time and money on trying to get better all while failing time and time again. 

After years of avoiding the reality of it, I had come to the conclusion that everything I was doing to try and make myself lose weight was only making me sicker. Trying to “be healthy” for the sake of losing weight and looking a certain way was never going to actually make me healthy. I had to accept that if I was going to manage my Hashimoto’s, I had to stop the obsession and the extreme attempts to lose weight. 

That realization did not come over night, and it’s still a tough pill to swallow at times. However, it was necessary to heal… to stop feeling tired… to stop feeling miserable… and to be okay with my body regardless of its size.

Why I Stopped Trying to Lose Weight

1. I use food to heal.

I finally began to look beyond the calories, the macros, and the commercials telling me that x food would make me skinny, and began using food to heal. My old diet consisted of fake butter, egg whites, too much sugar, and tons of processed carbs. I basically never ate a real food nutrient dense diet before I came to my breaking point, but it’s made all the difference. 

Today, I eat a diet of local vegetables, fruits in moderation, local, pastured meats, good quality fats and starches. I don’t eat low carb, I don’t avoid fat, and I couldn’t even tell you how many calories I eat. 

I use the nutrients in real food like bone broth, greens, sardines, sauerkraut and even liver to give my body the real food nutrition that it needs to function properly. Our cells need proper nutrients to heal and for our bodies to thrive.

If I kept restricting food and counting calories, I wouldn’t be giving my body what it intuitively needs to heal.

2. Intense exercise was making my thyroid worse.

I used to love the adrenaline rush that a cycle class gave me. That was before I cut it out and realized how much better I felt without that adrenaline and cortisol spike on a regular basis. Tearing my body down with high intensity exercise was spiking my cortisol, which unbeknownst to me was throwing off the delicate balance of my hormones even further.

A year ago, CrossFit would exhaust me to the point of wanting to pass out. Though CrossFit is known as a supportive environment which it totally is, it wasn’t doing me any good to have someone pushing me to go harder and harder when I just physically couldn’t. The overly intense exercise was throwing off my thyroid even more.

Today, I enjoy a routine of lots of walking, light weight lifting, and yoga. I’ve quit the expectation of how much I’m going to workout in a week, and only push myself as far as I can reasonably go.

3. It’s too stressful in general which also made my thyroid worse.

Trying to lose weight is stressful mentally, emotionally, and physically. Stress is often one of the missing pieces in reversing autoimmune disease and can’t be measured by a blood test. 

My constant attempts to lose weight were stressful in every sense of the word which was also just making me more exhausted, and throwing off my thyroid hormone even more. 

4. I don’t really have weight to lose after reversing my Hashimoto’s in general.

I’d be lying if I told you that I still had 20 lbs to lose after adopting a real food diet and smart exercise. Actually treating my body right and not putting it through the constant stress of forcing it to try to be smaller have allowed me to reverse my Hashimoto’s and reduce my antibodies. As a result, I don’t really have tons of extra weight to lose anymore.

It’s certainly not to say that Elite Model Management is signing me anytime soon, but it’s amazing that when I stopped trying is when my weight became stable 

5. Accepting my body, and loving myself take priority over trying to lose weight. 

“Self-love” seemed like a fairy tale to me. Something that sounds nice but isn’t actually achievable or as great as it sounds. However, loving myself regardless of my size has been vital to my healing journey and has quickly taken priority over hating my body. With all of the stress that our bodies are always under, the last thing we need to to hate it. 

Accepting myself regardless of how many calories I consume is a day has been exactly what I’ve needed all along.

What happened when I Stopped Trying to Lose Weight

So, I stopped trying to lose weight about a year ago. Judging by what society tells us about weight loss, you would think that I would have just gone completely off the deep end and would have blown up 5 dress sizes. However, that’s not the case…

  • I’ve reduced my symptoms immensely 
  • I no longer have serious fatigue 
  • I don’t get hangry anymore
  • I reduced my Hasihmoto’s antibodies by 60% and am within normal range, which essentially means I’ve reversed it
  • My weight normalized.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… none of this happens over night. It takes time to be okay with not working out like a fiend and not counting your calories. It’s okay if it takes time. At the end of the day, the journey is worth it, and the freedom in letting go of constantly trying to lose weight is liberating. 

Why I’m not Low Carb with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease

In the midst of the low-fat revolution mostly dying down, there’s a newer kid on the block… low-carb. It’s said to miraculous for weight loss, sustained health, long term healing, and blood sugar control. More and more people are dropping gluten, grains, and jumping on the paleo bandwagon while more brands are labeling their foods and menu items as “low-carb”. With weight gain being such a prevalent symptom of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease, it sounds like a low-carb diet is the perfect remedy right? I’m not low carb with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease… I don’t believe that you should be either. 

I know that you read and hear the same things that I do… “low-carb” is healthy, it’s natural, it’s an amazing way to lose weight, and so forth. I also know what it feels like to be unhealthy and carry extra weight with Hashimoto’s. The desire to just be normal and be at a natural weight is so strong. I’ve felt it and I know you do too. However, I assure you that there are others way to heal your thyroid, and deal with weight gain and low carb is not one of them for the bulk of us.

But, what about our paleo ancestors? Didn’t they eat low carb? So shouldn’t we regardless of our thyroid disease? Yes and no. Yes, our paleo ancestors were low carb in the sense that they didn’t have an abundance of bags of sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s at their beckon call. No, those of us with thyroid disease should not avoid carbs just to match what we believe that our ancestors ate in hopes that it will restore us to that health. 

If you’ve tried a too low carb diet before and you have Hashimoto’s, you can most likely agree with me when I say, I felt terrible. I was tired, it wasn’t sustainable, and I don’t believe it’s health promoting for a number of reasons…

Why I'm not Low Carb with Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease

img via.

1.Carbs are needed to convert T4 to T3.

If you’re like me and have thyroid disease, you probably know what your last blood test said about your T4, and T3. But, what does it mean? T4 is the unusable thyroid hormone that needs to be converted to T3 for you thyroid to properly function. However, for this conversion to happen your body needs glucose, which are derived from carbohydrates. 

You need to consume carbohydrates for you body to make this conversion. Without consuming an adequate amount of healthy carbs, your body will struggle to do this conversion or just not do it. In turn, this only throws off your thyroid function even more. 

2. Carbs are necessary for proper hormone function and metabolism. 

Along with the T4 to T3 conversion, carbs help balance other hormones in the body as glucose supports the hormone conversion, and your bodies ability to regulate metabolism. Think of your hormones as a cascading process in the body that are all closely related. When one thing is thrown off, it throws off the entire delicate balance of your hormones. Poorly regulated hormones only create more problems for those with thyroid disease, which is often the last thing that we need. 

This disregulated hormone function can manifest in the following…

  • Lost or missed periods
  • Painful or irregular menstrual cycles
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia 
  • etc.

3. Carbs are needed for energy. 

One of the main functions of carbohydrates in the body is a quick source of energy. Carbohydrates start metabolizing and digesting as soon as we start chewing on them. They provide quick energy that the body can use immediately without having to process.

Doesn’t fat provide more sustained energy? Well, yes. However, a balanced ratio of fat and carbohydrates provides both energy and a more sustainable lifestyle, which is another huge factor…

4. Low carb diets are stressful on the body and the adrenals.

Adrenal fatigue, stress, and exhaustion can often go hand and hand with thyroid disease as it all relates to poorly managed stress and hormone production. Though adrenal fatigue is mostly caused and healed by lifestyle factors, carb intake is a huge factor. 

Seeing as carbs are needed for energy and hormone conversions in the body, a lack of carbs is inherently stressful. It tires the body out, and doesn’t allow the adrenals to heal or the body to be at homeostasis. 

5. Carbs are not evil.

We have this tendency to make food either good or bad. Either you can eat something, or you should avoid it like the plague… there’s no middle ground. However, that’s simply not the case when it comes to real food. Carbs are not all bad, all carbs do not make you fat, and low-carb is not required for sustained health and weight loss. French fries, crackers, and processed breads are bad, yes, of course. However, just because these things are classified as carbs do not make roots, tubers, fruits, and starchy vegetables bad.

6. It’s more sustainable and less “diet-y” to just eat a balanced diet rather than avoid carbs.. 

There are a few exceptions to the low carb dieting where I believe that it can be beneficial for a short period of time, such as:

  • Correcting blood sugar regulation
  • Gut healing protocol like GAPS or a candida management protocol

However, the keyword here is short time period.

Thyroid disease is indeed manageable and plenty of people have put their Hashimoto’s into remission, the lifestyle that promotes that healing is for life. To support long term healing, it’s crucial to build a healing plan that can sustain you for life. Low-carb dieting can easily turn into just another diet that is not as easily sustainable for long term. 

This varies from person to person, but generally speaking, low-carb is less sustainable than a balanced diet. 

How do you know that you may be too low carb?

With thyroid disease, it can be challenging to asses what is actually ailing you. The list of symptoms are massive, and finding a root to each one can be impossible. However, here are just a few of the signs that you could be eating too low carb that you may want to pay more attention to…

  • Low energy
  • Inability to recover from exercise 
  • Sugar cravings 
  • Disregulated menstrual cycles
  • etc.

So, how do you eat carbs healthfully?

You can over do it on carbs, or just eat the wrong kinds of carbs very easily. 

  • You need to balance your carb intake. Roughly 40% of your diet should be carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein. This varies by activity level and need, but I recommend women with thyroid disease to start with at least 100 g of carbs a day.
  • You need to chew your food and eat in a relaxed state. Remember when I said that carb digestion starts in the mouth? Well, it really starts with chewing and in the brain! You need to be relaxed and chew your food to digest carbs.
  • You need to eat the right kind of carbs.

So, what are some healthy carbs that you can enjoy with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease? To just name a few…

  • Vegetables 
  • Fruits (in moderation)
  • Parsnip
  • Carrot
  • Winter Squash
  • Rutabaga
  • Sweet potato (can be irritating to some as they’re kind of estrogenic) 
  • Plantains 
  • Turnip
  • Yuca
  • etc.

What carbs should you avoid?

  • Processed breads, crackers, breads, cakes, cookies, etc.
  • Anything processed labeled “low-carb”
  • Grains (be careful with these)
  • Potatoes (be careful with these as well, as they are a nightshade that are inflammatory to many, but not all) 

Where should you be careful?

  • Overconsumption in general
  • Flours, and starches (even gluten free and grain free)
  • Processed grain free snacks 

It takes time, diligence and practice to make peace with carbs and find your balance. If you have any questions about exactly how much you need, feel free to reach out!