Nutrition Articles

Eating with Hypothyroidism

Manage Symptoms with Diet and Exercise

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Exercise & Other Considerations
Hypothyroidism does cause weight gain—typically 10-20 pounds. Gaining more than 20 pounds can usually be attributed to fatigue that limits your activity, not to the disorder itself. When you feel fatigued, you don’t feel like exercising. This can lead to a vicious cycle since not exercising can result in greater fatigue and so on and so on. Physical activity and exercise are keys to weight control and to decreasing the affects of fatigue.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise. Individuals with hypothyroidism can have low levels of serotonin, the brain chemical involved in appetite control, depression, and sleep regulation. Just thirty minutes of aerobic (cardio) exercise, five times per week can help increase serotonin levels to decrease these symptoms.
     
  • Likewise, strength training helps increase metabolism, which is also suppressed in those that are hypothyroid. The SparkPeople plan will help you establish a program and motivate you to stick with it. Although you may not have much energy initially, get moving! The more you move the more energy you will have to exercise each day.
     
  • Reduce the stress in your life. Stress causes many people to make unwise food choices and overeat. Reactions to stress are controlled by the adrenal glands, which are overworked and under-functioning in hypothyroid patients. Stress also increases cortisol levels, increasing hunger and affecting insulin levels. Reducing stress is an often overlooked factor in weight loss.
     
  • Practice deep breathing. Many times the increased weight and lack of physical fitness causes those with hypothyroidism to pant for air, taking shallow, short breaths. Deep breathing exercises can help you take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide with each breath and can help with weight loss, stress reduction, and relaxation. 
Hypothyroidism is a life-long condition. With careful management, people with thyroid disease can live healthy, normal lives. The best way to take control of your thyroid health is to work with your medical provider to develop a treatment plan that includes nutrition, exercise, and stress relief.
To connect with other individuals dealing with thyroid disease, visit the message board thread "Hypothyroid? Join the Club", located in the SparkPeople Café or join the SparkTeam "Hypothyroids Join Together".
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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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