Symptom Management: Weight

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You’ve heard it. A million times. “Diet and exercise would help you lose weight.” But what if there’s more? Holding to this advice alone can leave you frustrated and dejected. But know for thyroid warriors, weight issues is more dynamic than that. We are not crazy or lazy. We are working double time towards a healthier body. Fortunately, weight can be regulated, even with our disease, but it’s a fight. 

Round One: Meds

You’re cruising the highway. The wind blows and the scenery flies by you. But you slow. You push the pedal down, but sputter to a stop. A little orange light glares and you know, you’re going nowhere without gas. Expecting weight loss without getting your thyroid hormones optimal, is as effective as running a car without gas. Because thyroid hormone regulates weight, no amount of diet and exercise can compensate for uncontrolled hormone levels. So medication optimization is first on my list for a reason; it’s the cornerstone to weight loss. 

Round Two: Listening 

A yawn is not a silent scream for coffee, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s your body asking for a need, sleep. Listening to your body isn’t some mystical concept. It’s giving weight (pun intended) to your body’s basic needs. Tracking my diet is one way I learned to listed to my body’s needs. (See “Round Three” below for common problem foods.)  Second, and to my great pleasure, listen to stress levels. When we’re stressed, our bodies increase cortisol levels, which lowers thyroid levels, causing us to gain weight. This is part of the reason extreme calorie restrictions don’t work for thyroid patients. Our bodies are already taxed, adding the stress of excessive calorie restrictions doesn’t help. And if you’re like me, stress leads to gobbling cookies like Shaggy and Scooby. So soak in that bath. See that old friend. Walk in that park. There are many needs we can be attentive to, such as thirst, indigestion, sensitivity to cold, etc. study your body, to understand its needs.

Round Three: Food and water

While “don’t eat fast food or binge drink soda” remains universally good advice, there’s more to diet for thyroid warriors. For us, food can cause weight gain through inflammation. After having kids, I was puffy Marshmallow Meghan. Pictures made me shutter until I read about inflammation. The table below outlines some foods that commonly cause inflammation. I would recommend removing as many as reasonable from your diet, then adding them back in, one at a time. I allowed a few weeks between introductions, to mark how they affected me.  I post a lot of my meals on our Instagram account. They are all easy, family meals.

Foods that cause me inflammationFoods I eat like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka
Refined carbs, ie: “white” bread, rice etc  Sugar, Has many listed names, Trans fats, Gluten, dairy, Processed meats oils, alcoholWhole, high healthy fat, plant based proteins, fish, gluten-free food,  fruit and veggies

Another helpful tip for weight loss is to drink plenty of water. No only does this keep the body happily hydrated, it fills the stomach. Diet is a broad topic, which I hope to chat about again at the Thyroidcafe. 

Round Four: Exercise 

I subconsciously took a deep breath before writing this. If you struggle with weight caused by thyroid disease, it is likely your thyroid hormone is on the lower side. If so, you may feel exhausted by the normal events of life. I don’t want to apply undue pressure to people already suffering. Regarding exercise, do what you can, when you can. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming and biking are a place to start, once you feel healthy enough to do so. 

Conclusion 

I desperately want to take the burden of this disease from my fellow sufferers. The exhaustion, depression, sensitivity to cold – all of it. But the worst for me was the preconceived notions of others. Maybe it was my age, but I spent years crushed by worry that others would think I was “just lazy and fat.” But ten years on, this previously “lazy, fat” woman just wants to be healthy. I wish we could change the narrative from weight loss, to healthy weight. Because excess weight is a symptom of a larger medical issue. Prescription optimization, diet, and exercise will help you lose weight. But the bigger reward is gaining back our health. 

Sources

Symptom Management: Pain

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. It’s 2012. 9:00 pm and I’m in bed. Twisting and rubbing my neck, and shoulders. Attempting to silence snarling muscles. My elbows and knees soon join the cacophony, so I give up and hobble to the kitchen for pain meds. My grandmother and I walk the same way, I’m sixty years her junior. What was I to do? In those days, I popped Tylenol like a desperate starving animal. I had to find a better treatment option. 

The cause of thyroid pain

Thyroiditis could be the cause of your pain. If the front of your neck, jaw or face hurt, a doctor should be seen. Other auto-immune diseases may also be a cause of your pain. For example, arthritis is more likely in thyroid patience than the general population. Thirdly, under treated hypothyroidism is a common cause of joint and muscle pain. But what about this sporadic, systemic dull ache? Diet is the cause I have found through support groups, and personal experience. Dairy was the cause of my pain, but each person must do her own detective work. 

How to treat it 

The simple answer: you can take Neo’s red pill (Tylenol) and go down the rabbit hole of masking your soreness and avoiding the problem. But my pain persisted and I needed an explanation. Around that time, I read about the AIP diet. As I was stumbling and slurping through the diet, I noticed my body pain left. After reintroducing dairy, my pain returned. I am not recommending we put cows permanently out to pasture, but rather that each of us tries an elimination diet, to see what helps.

If you’re having other low thyroid symptoms or your pain is accompanied by swelling of your joints, it’s best to consult a physician and rule out other causes. Keep in mind, even if your blood test comes back in the normal range, it may not be optimal. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and work towards optimization. As always, I recommend being your own Thyroid advocate.

Conclusion

Because thyroid disease has multiple manifestations, I am doing a series on Symptom Management.  Joint and muscle pain can have many causes and it may take time and detective work to find the root cause of your pain, but there are solutions. So now, after dietary changes, I can sit in bed at 9:00 pm and binge watch Netflix like a normal semi-adult. No Tylenol needed.