How Do I Lose Weight with Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s disease is a thyroid autoimmune disease that is very common in The United States. This disease has a plethora of side effects on day-to-day life and, like many other autoimmune diseases, it disproportionately affects women more than men. If you’ve been following along with my series on chronic illnesses, then you know I struggle with this health issue and that I’ve been deep-diving into the world of autoimmune disorders in order to learn more about living with this disease.
Hashimoto’s disease, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can drastically affect your mental and physical well-being. This disease can make you feel sluggish, weak, achy, tired, and so much more. It can also make trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle super challenging. Irregular thyroid functioning coupled with feelings of exhaustion and the stress of coping with your disease can make it very easy to fall into unhealthy patterns.
So, today, I thought I would share some words of encouragement and some simple tips to boost your wellness and productivity. And, ultimately, help you guys that are living with this condition look good and feel great! My goal is to help anyone who is wondering “how do I lose weight with Hashimoto’s?” because I know firsthand that it’s totally achievable – it just takes a strong mindset and some dedication to a few, simple life changes.
How Do I Lose Weight with Hashimoto’s?
So, I’m sure you’re wondering…how exactly does Hashimoto cause you to gain weight? Or at least, how does it prevent you from losing weight? Let’s break it down.
Your thyroid gland is important because it secretes hormones that directly contribute to your metabolism. Your metabolism is responsible for helping you burn calories at a healthy rate. When your metabolism is not functioning properly, it is common to develop a metabolic syndrome.
Hashimoto’s disease causes your immune system to attack healthy thyroid cells. This attack on your thyroid leads to insufficient hormone production, also called underactive thyroid. Because your thyroid is no longer producing enough hormones to stabilize your metabolism, your metabolism begins to slow down. This causes your body to burn calories at a slower rate, thus causing weight gain and the inability to lose weight.
So, this is why your diet and overall lifestyle play a huge role in your quality of life and desire to lose weight. I hope you guys can find some relief with the help of these life changes that helped me so much. So, without further adieu, here are my tips for how to lose weight while living with Hashimoto’s:
Have A Positive Mindset
Okay – I know this tip might seem a little cliche, but just hear me out. Like most, when I received my diagnosis, it was devastating. And in truth, I fell into a depression for a while. But, believe me, when I say, dwelling in a negative mindset is not the answer. Not only will this delay your recovery and learning, but it might even worsen your symptoms by creating additional stress. Instead, do your research and create a plan of action that allows you to live in a more positive mindset.
Here are some ways you can promote a more positive mindset:
- Start a gratitude journal
- Spend time with friends and family
- Practice self-care often
- Find an emotional or creative outlet
- Meditate or practice yoga
There are many environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases and one of the most common is gluten. Many victims of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have gluten sensitivity, which leads to extra weight from inflammation. This makes going grain-free one of the best steps you can take to lose weight with Hashimoto’s. Not only will you drastically reduce inflammation throughout the body, but you will physically feel so much better.
Foods to avoid include, but are not limited to:
- Bread and baked goods
Cut Out Dairy
Like gluten, dairy products are also a common trigger of many autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s. Lactose intolerance, in itself, can cause stomach pain, nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It can also cause chronic inflammation that can make it hard to lose weight. So, in combination with Hashimoto’s, lactose intolerance can make for a very uncomfortable experience. If you experience worsened autoimmune reactions after consuming dairy products, it might be time to cut out dairy and see if your symptoms improve.
But – I get it! Cutting out dairy means giving up milk, cheese, and cream. This was hard for me, too especially the cheese. But I promise it’s worth it. In light of this, here are some dairy alternatives that can help fill the void:
- Plant-based milk: almond, coconut, walnut, etc.
- Plant-based cheeses: Tofu Gouda, Cashew Brie, Baked Cashew Mozzarella, etc.
- Non-dairy ice cream: Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen Dazs
Nightshades are a family of plants that include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. When consumed by people with Hashimoto’s, other autoimmune disorders, or food sensitivities, nightshades can cause inflammation and trigger flare-ups. This inflammation not only adds weight but makes it hard to lose weight as well. But, why?
Well, even though these common foods contain a plethora of positive health benefits, they also contain alkaloids that are known to harm the intestines. Nightshades contain a specifically detrimental alkaloid called solanine. Solanine is produced by the plant during the growth process as a sort-of insecticide or defense mechanism. But, when consumed in high quantities, this chemical can wreak havoc on the digestive system and make you feel super nauseous.
Nightshades to avoid include, but are not limited to:
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet and chili peppers
Autoimmune Protocol Diet
The autoimmune protocol diet is a diet that was created specifically for individuals with autoimmune diseases. This meal plan focuses on cutting out any foods that commonly lead to autoimmune flare-ups or inflammation and consuming foods that contribute to cleansing the body and supporting the thyroid. This diet can help those with Hashimoto’s lose weight by cutting out all inflammation and help focus on eating nutrient-dense foods. For an extensive explanation of the AIP diet, click here. For now, we’ll just go over some foods that you should definitely avoid and some foods that you should try to incorporate more.
Foods to avoid:
- Nuts & seeds
- Processed vegetable oils
- Refined sugars
Foods to consume:
- Fresh fruit
- Minimally processed meat (for those not following a plant-based diet)
- Fermented, probiotic-rich foods
- Herbs and spices
- Natural Sweeteners
- Bone broth
Supplement with Vitamins
Without certain vitamins and minerals, the thyroid can not properly secrete hormones. Nutrients that are particularly important for proper thyroid functioning are vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Plus, when the body doesn’t have adequate nutrition, it can cause the body to hold onto and store extra fat. It’s for these reasons that victims of Hashimoto’s might be having a hard time losing weight. To solve this issue, be sure to supplement any vitamins, minerals, or nutrients you might be lacking.
To find out what nutrients you might be lacking, you can speak to your doctor about a blood test. While we’re on the subject of doctors, always be sure to reach out to your doctor before starting any new medications or supplements. It’s important for your doctor to know what supplements you might be taking to ensure that they don’t interfere with your thyroid medications.
Get Some Exercise
When it comes to losing weight with Hashimoto’s, exercise is so important. As I mentioned earlier, thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s directly contribute to a slower metabolism. Exercising, on the other hand, is a great way to boost your metabolism. Getting your blood pumping, even via minimal exercise, like walking, light jogging, swimming, light weight lifting, and yoga, is key to helping you lose weight with this disease.
But – it’s important to make sure that you never push yourself too hard. Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I’ve had to make serious changes to my workout routine. For tips on how to get the blood flowing safely, be sure to read my do’s and don’ts of exercising with Hashimoto’s.
Lower Stress Levels
In order to help lower my stress levels and live the highest quality of life possible, I’ve developed a series of non-negotiable habits. These daily habits help me stay sane and keep my stress levels to a minimum, which is essential to prevent Hashimoto’s flare-ups. Plus, excess stress can cause weight gain. Yes – stress causes weight gain! And I don’t just mean from stress eating. Stress can literally disrupt hormone production that can directly affect your metabolism as well as many other normal hormonal processes. In order to lower your stress levels, I suggest:
- Drinking less alcohol
- Consuming a healthy diet
- Reducing triggers of stress
- Practicing meditation or yoga
- Setting realistic goals
- Doing physical activity on a regular basis
- Spending time with friends and family
Consider Side-Effects of Medication
Some thyroid medications can make it very difficult to lose weight. In fact, weight gain is a common side-effect of starting some thyroid medications. If you feel like you’re doing everything in the world to lose weight and you just can’t, it could totally be your medication. Think this is your problem? Maybe this medication isn’t for you. Maybe your dosage is off. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor and get some clarification. Just remember to always speak to your doctor before changing or stopping your medication as this can be very dangerous.
In fact, you should always feel free to ask your doctor any question you may have about Hashimoto’s. Here is my list of essential questions to ask your doctor about this disease.
Remove Environmental Triggers
Last but not least, in order to lose weight with Hashimoto’s, it’s important to remove any and all environmental triggers that cause you inflammation. Essentially, inflammation is extra water weight that’s being stored in your body. Like dairy products and gluten, there may be other common foods out there that specifically cause you inflammation that you should cut out immediately. Cutting out inflammatory foods will help you lose weight instantly by ridding your body of that unnecessary water.
With Hashimoto’s, you CAN look and feel like your best self!
Alright, those are my best tips for losing weight with Hashimoto’s disease. The most important piece of advice to remember is that diet and exercise play a huge role in your chances of losing weight with this disease. Getting into a healthy routine and maintaining a positive mindset are the best ways to not only lose weight but better cope with the symptoms of this disease. And thus, greatly improve your quality of life. Until next time, just know that I hear you and I see you. If you have any additional questions or comments about Hashimoto’s and the best ways to deal with this disease, please feel free to drop me a line below. And, for more information on chronic illnesses, health, or lifestyle, be sure to head on over to my blog. Talk soon!