Thyroid Patients: 30 Ways to Make Your Diet Work

roasted chicken with asparagus and tomatoes

 If you are a thyroid patient, there is a good chance that you are struggling to lose weight. The majority of people with thyroid conditions – Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism, Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer – end up permanently hypothyroid. Even after treatment, this can result in a lowered metabolism, changes in the way you process carbohydrates and sugar, and fatigue that keeps you from getting sufficient exercise.

As someone with a thyroid condition, if you are trying to lose weight – or prevent weight gain – here are 30 ways you can optimize your diet in order to make your efforts more successful.

Make Generally Healthy Food Choices

Here are some general food choices that are healthy, and can help you achieve more effective weight loss.

1. Use grass-fed organic meats, versus grain-fed, whenever possible. They tend to have higher nutritional value, and fewer toxins.

2. Use organic, hormone free dairy products – versus non-organic, hormone tainted products – whenever possible. They are less of a toxic challenge to your immune system.

3. Incorporate more "good fat" – like olive oil, avocado, and healthy nuts – into your diet. Good fat is filling,and may help you eat less overall calories. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

4. When eating protein, choose healthier, lower fat protein sources – fish, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and beans can be good choices,

5. Drink plenty of clean water. (Some experts recommend that you get at least 1/2 to 1 ounce of water for every pound of your goal weight, per day.)

6. Get more fiber - ideally 25-30 mg a day. Fiber helps with fullness, and digestion/elimination. (Read more about the benefits of fiber for thyroid patients, as well as the highest fiber foods, here.)

Some Thyroid-Specific Ideas

Here are some considerations specific to thyroid patients.

7. Consider a gluten-free diet. Some thyroid patients report less bloating, reduced aches and pains, reduced symptoms, and an improved ability to lose weight when following a gluten-free diet. (In rare cases, if celiac disease is the trigger cause of autoimmune thyroid disease, going gluten-free may also cause a remission of the thyroid condition.)

8. Don't go overboard on soy. Soy foods may interfere with your ability to absorb your thyroid medication and may have a slowing effect on your thyroid. If you do eat soy, it should be as a condiment, and ideally, in its fermented forms.

9. Be careful about Brazil nuts. They are a high source of selenium – which is a recommended supplement for autoimmune thyroid disease – but more than one or two nuts a day can raise selenium to toxic levels. Also, cut out the Brazil nuts if you are already taking selenium supplements.

Get Rid of Dietary Stressors

Some foods and ingredients cause stress on your digestive system, immune system, and endocrine system. Here are some tips.

10. Minimize or eliminate refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup.

11. Minimize or sugar and sugary treats, including desserts.

12. Minimize or eliminate sweetened soft drinks

13. Eliminate artificial sweeteners and diet drinks entirely. There is evidence that they don't help with weight loss, and may contribute to weight gain.

14. If you have food allergies – i.e., dairy, nuts, grains, etc. – eliminate these foods from your diet. Eating food allergens triggers increased inflammation.

15. Minimize caffeine. Too much caffeine can be too stressful for the adrenal glands and can cause cortisol levels to increase - which can be counterproductive to your weight loss efforts.

16. Don't drink excessive alcohol. It can increase appetite and reduce your ability to make good food decisions.

Keep Blood Sugar From Spiking

When blood sugar goes up quickly and regularly, it can overwhelm your body's hormonal ability to process glucose, contributing to an increased risk of pre-diabetes and making weight loss more difficult.

17. Follow a carbohydrate-controlled, low-glycemic diet. One diet I've found helpful is the Rosedale Diet. (Here is a list of the glycemic impact of various foods.)

18. Don't overdo simple carbohydrates and sugary foods at one meal.

19. Some nutritional experts recommend that you take several psyllium fiber capsules when you eat a low-fiber food, in order to help minimize the glycemic impact of those foods.

20. Movement expert Teresa Tapp recommends doing her trademark "hoe-down" exercises after eating a high-glycemic food or meal. (You can learn how to do T-Tapp Hoe-downs at this short Youtube video.

Don't Overdo Raw Goitrogenic Foods

Thyroid patients (except for those who have no thyroid gland) should be careful about overdoing it with foods that are goitrogens. They can slow the thyroid and promote formation of a goiter (an enlarged thyroid.)

21. Cooking and steaming can help reduce the overall goitrogenic impact of these foods, so be sure the majority of your goitrogens are not raw.

22. Be especially careful about raw juicing - some of the most popular ingredients are also thyroid-slowing goitrogens, and juicing concentrates them in large quantities.

Here is a partial list of some common goitrogenic foods:

Bok choy
Brussels sprouts

Here is a more detailed list of goitrogenic foods.

Change the Timing of Your Meals

Some experts feel that the mini-meal, "grazing all day" approach may be counterproductive to weight loss for thyroid patients. The rationale? It never allows enough time for the body to shift from fat-storing into fat-burning mode. To that end, here are some tips:

23. Don't eat too much at any meal.

24. Eat two or three meals a day, and no snacks in between.

25. Avoid eating after 8 p.m.

26. Try for at least 10 to 12 hours between your dinner meal, and breakfast. This encourages fat-burning.

Practice Mindfulness When Eating

When you are under stress when you eat, your body is not in a position to release the right hunger, satiety, and fat-burning hormones. It also encourages higher levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol, which encourages more effective fat storage, especially in your abdominal area. Practicing mindfulness while eating can help improve your sense of fullness, and lower your stress levels while eating.

27. Take three deep cleansing breaths before each meal and snack

28. Take a deep breath between bites

29. Eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly.

30. Don't multitask while eating. That means, don't eat standing up, in your car, while reading, watching TV, or while talking on the phone