These pictures are from 2017/2018. It’s the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I was always looking puffy and bloated in every photo. I hated buying clothes because the sizes kept going up. Being miserable and continuously looking for a way to lose weight. I can’t tell you how many times I tried diet fads. There was the 21-day fix, keto, weight watchers, etc. All in an attempt to lose weight, I couldn’t stop gaining.
Diagnosed with hypothyroidism back in 2013. My thyroid was underactive. My sister and mother have it, but I never thought it would affect me. I never showed any symptoms. One day my doctor called. She said: “ Your blood work came back showing your thyroid is underactive, meaning you have hypothyroidism. I’ve prescribed you medicine. Take it once a day every day for the rest of your life. There’s nothing else you can do”. I didn’t think much of it. She’s my doctor; she knows what advice to give.
Gradually over the next five years, my weight began to become an issue. I’d gain it no matter how many days a week I worked out, and no matter how healthy I ate. I’ve always been an active person. Weight was never an issue growing up. But now it was. I became obsessed. I use to be so hard on myself about gaining all this weight. Telling myself, I need to go to the gym every day, or I’d be fat forever. I was berating myself for eating unhealthy foods. I was building such a negative relationship with working out, nutriton, and my body image.
Every year I would get blood work tests on my thyroid levels. My doctor would call me with the results saying everything is normal and to keep taking my medicine. I finally got to the point where I was getting fed up with them, telling me I was fine when, in fact, I knew I wasn’t. I was gaining so much weight, and fatigued every day, no matter the amount of sleep I got each night. I would wake up with flu-like symptoms every day: body aches and joint pain.
I started googling and researching hypothyroidism. There was so much information out there that I didn’t know what to believe. It was overwhelming. I knew I wasn’t going to take “you’re fine” anymore. I finally decided to see an endocrinologist. I found one online that was in my network and had good reviews. On the day of my appointment, I go in hopeful. I was waiting to hear that there was more to my concerns. I explain my problems with my increased weight and constant fatigue. He looks at my levels and says everything appears normal (definitely not what I wanted to hear!). He orders more blood work to check my levels double. A few days later, I get my results emailed to me.
Right away, I see red in my Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies. My TPO antibodies were high. The presence of these antibodies meant from an auto-immune disorder. In my case, Hashimoto’s disease. My immune system made antibodies that saw my thyroid as a foreign object. My body started attacking the healthy tissue in my thyroid. But the doctor didn’t tell me any of this at the time, only that the levels weren’t high enough to worry. As you can imagine, I was livid! How are the doctors still telling me that nothing is wrong with my thyroid?
Can food help?
My next and final step was to look into seeing a nutritionist. Modern medicine wasn’t working, so I decided to see about the food I eat. I found a lady nearby who stated she worked with patients with thyroid disease. I was hoping she’d give me some answers.
On my first visit, I bring along all my blood work. I explain to her about my recent doctors’ visit and my issues with fatigue and weight gain. The nutritionist took a look at my latest blood work. She couldn’t believe that they told me nothing was wrong. It showed that I had an autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s, which is more extreme than my original diagnoses of hypothyroidism. She said to me that we could fix my issues.
Starting for two weeks, I cut out all gluten and soy. The proteins found in these are the same as the proteins found in the thyroid. It causes your body to attack the thyroid. I also cut out all nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, eggplant. These vegetables cause serious inflammation problems in people who have autoimmune diseases. No grains and dairy either. Could it be that simple by eliminating these foods??
During this visit, she got my weight and BMI. My body fat % was that of an obese person—over 40%. My body was storing all my fat and not burning a single pound of it. It was depressing to hear. I left feeling hopeful.
The healing begins
Two weeks later, I return to the dietician. She put me on the scale, and I had lost 4 pounds in two weeks!! I could hardly believe it. I use to struggle to lose 5 lbs in 2 months. Every two weeks I went back, more and more weight came off at each visit. Today it’s been three years since I first stepped foot into that dietician’s office, and my life has done a complete 360! I’ve successfully lost and kept off 35 lbs. But it’s been more than that; I am no longer plagued by fatigue. I don’t wake up feeling like I have the flu anymore. This has all changed from my diet change. FOOD has healed my body.
What frustrates me the most was never reading about diet change when I did research. I saw a few articles talking about doing the paleo diet but not why it is the right choice. Why eliminating gluten is so crucial for people with Hashimoto’s. Here’s a clip from an article I found online that breaks it down for you:
“ There is more than enough scientific and clinical evidence that shows the benefits of a gluten-free diet to manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid symptoms. Studies from several different countries show Hashimoto’s is linked to gluten sensitivity. The protein structure in the gluten protein shares an amino acid sequence that resembles that of the thyroid. Therefore, when a gluten-sensitive person reacts to gluten, the immune system may begin erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue too. This causes the inflammatory immune cells to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity. Although many people know this through personal experience, one study showed that 71 percent of subjects resolved their low thyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
Going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work, and many people with Hashimoto’s also find dairy triggers flares. Dairy is the second biggest trigger food for people with Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Most people do not realize they have a dairy intolerance until they stop eating it. This is because the immune system can mistake dairy for gluten, causing an immune reaction that leads to thyroid tissue destruction. If you’re serious about managing your Hashimoto’s low thyroid condition, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet often results in significant relief of symptoms, if not total remission.”
I went back to the endocrinologist one more time after losing a significant amount of weight. The Doctor was shocked to hear that I had lost all this weight and changed my thyroid levels by diet change only. How can an Endocrinologist never realize the correlation? Medical doctors should study more nutrition courses during their schooling. They should learn that shoving a pill at a problem isn’t a fix-all.
My TPO-antibodies are so low now that they aren’t registering. My Hashimoto’s is in remission, don’t get me wrong I get flare-ups. Sometimes my diet needs tweaking, or I have a lot of stress in my life. I learn to make adjustments as I go. What you eat is as, if not more, necessary than the pills doctors prescribe you. I’ve had more success from changing my diet then taking one medication every morning for five years of my life. I still go to the same nutritionist one to two times a month. She helps me keep my Hashimoto’s under control. I am forever grateful that I walked into her office.
Happiness and healing
Here I am today, 35 lbs lighter and happier. I not only look healthier but more comfortable. Which is all I’ve been trying to achieve. I took charge of my health, and it’s been paying off ever since.