Nutrition Articles

Eating with Hypothyroidism

Manage Symptoms with Diet and Exercise

Hypothyroidism, the chronic condition of an under-active thyroid, affects millions of Americans. It's most commonly caused by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease, and can result in a variety of symptoms, including: weight gain (caused by a reduction in metabolism), water retention, depression, muscle pain, increased cholesterol, fatigue, mental "fog" and more. Not only does hypothyroidism typically result in weight gain, but its symptoms and complexities make losing weight even more difficult.

Individuals with autoimmune thyroiditis have a harder time losing weight after their hormone levels are normalized. Experts aren't sure why this is the case, but there are several theories including a change in the metabolic “set point”, insulin resistance, and changes in brain chemistry.

Managing symptoms will help you feel your best when living with hypothyroidism. In conjunction with the treatment plan outlined by your doctor, a healthy diet and regular exercise can also help.

You CAN lose weight with hypothyroidism, but:
  • You may not lose weight at the same rate you did before.
  • You may not lose weight at the same rate as someone else.
  • You may not get back to the size you were.
Be realistic about your goals and objectives and realize that being a certain weight or size is not always the best goal when living with hypothyroidism. Having more energy and reducing feelings of fatigue and depression are usually more important to your quality of life.

When you are setting your goals, keep these things in mind:
  • Make lifestyle changes. Hypothyroidism will be with you for the rest of your life, so healthy eating, exercising and taking care of yourself must be priorities. Your SparkPeople plan will start you in the right direction, but you have to be committed to a new way of life.
  • Make time for healthy eating and regular exercise. Commit to prepare food, exercise and take care of you. Put yourself on your to-do list each day.
  • Be optimistic and acknowledge the positive changes you have made—no matter how small. Journal about the highs and lows of the journey as an outlet for frustration and as a way to look back at your progress when the going gets tough.
  • Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes small steps to get from where you are to where you want to be. The Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare is a good illustration and reference. You can win the race if you stay focused and take slow, steady steps to get there. Do the best you can. Take a step further each day, pick yourself up when you stumble, and keep your eyes on the goal.
  • Few worthwhile outcomes are easy or quick. Be wary of the latest fad in weight loss or ploys for people with hypothyroidism. You have the tools for effective, long-term weight loss here at SparkPeople, so stay the course and leave the too-good-to-be-true trends on the shelf.
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About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and education. She is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. See all of Tanya's articles.

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