7 Tips for Living with Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s disease is one of the more common autoimmune disorders. In people with Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks thyroid cells as if they were some kind of threat. Hashimoto’s also usually causes the immune system to produce an antibody to thyroid peroxidase (TPO), a protein that is essential to thyroid hormone production. People with Hashimoto’s usually have TPO antibodies in their blood.
This common thyroid gland disorder can occur at any age, but it’s seen most often in middle-aged women.
The onset of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is commonly related to genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of the two. The disease affects 14 million people in the United States or around 2% of the population. It is 4 to 10 times more likely to affect women than men.
Hashimoto’s can be extremely difficult to manage because it affects so many different aspects of your life. Fortunately, certain diet and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms and prevent further complications. Still, people with Hashimoto’s respond differently to treatments.
If you’re currently struggling with the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, I’m sharing a round up of tips that have helped me live with it in hopes that they will significantly improve your quality of life as well.
7 Tips for Living with Hashimoto’s
What Does Hashimoto’s Feel Like?
Living with Hashimoto’s is just as frustrating as it is uncomfortable and exhausting. It can disrupt your daily routine, eating habits, etc. There is so much to consider when you have this condition.
People with Hashimoto’s have described a flare up or attack by saying they feel sore, exhausted, tired, weak, depressed, and so much more.
A Hashimoto’s flare up often shares the same symptoms as hypothyroidism. These can include symptoms such as:
- Muscle and joint pain or weakness
- Weight gain
- Pale and dry skin
- Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry or brittle hair and/or hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
Stress impacts just about every part of your body, one way or another. Its contribution to Hashimoto’s flare ups is very real and significant.
Stress causes an imbalance in thyroid hormone production, which can make your symptoms worse. It also puts you at a higher risk of having a flare up. This is exactly why reducing stress is so important.
Stress management and mindfulness are key components of living with Hashimoto’s. One great way to reduce stress is to prioritize what matters. Put your time and energy toward the things that matter most in your life.
Other ways to manage stress include meditating, journaling, practicing yoga, going on a walk, reading a book, listening to music, or soaking in the bathtub.
Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
You probably already know that what you eat has a big impact on how you feel. This is definitely the case with chronic illness, like Hashimoto’s disease. Actually, Hashimoto’s can be directly linked to the foods you eat.
To help manage your condition and prevent a flare up, you should eat a nutrient dense diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet also includes adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Part of eating a healthy diet is avoiding certain foods that trigger flare ups as well, so we’ll cover that next.
Avoid Certain Foods
Certain foods are known to cause an inflammatory immune response. Removing these foods, and following an anti-inflammatory diet, can make you feel dramatically better.
These are the 10 foods I’ve found to be the worst for autoimmune disease:
- Refined sugars
- Nightshade vegetables
- Dairy products
- Grains that contain gluten
- Processed vegetable oils
- Nuts and seeds
Other common trigger foods for people with Hashimoto’s or another autoimmune disease include soy (soy milk, soy sauce, edamame, tofu, and tempeh), soda, and processed and fried foods.
Get Plenty Of Quality Sleep
Getting enough sleep is super important when you are living with an autoimmune disease. Not only is getting enough sleep important, so is getting good quality sleep. Getting enough quality sleep gives you the right mentality, as well as the energy, to deal with your symptoms.
In addition to better stress management, adequate sleep also helps support healthy muscles and joints. It’s important for helping your immune system fight off viruses too. Basically, the amount of sleep you get affects nearly every part of your body.
The best way to ensure you get the sleep you need is to establish a routine. You should also go to bed at a time that allows you to get at least seven hours of sleep.
Regular exercise is a great way to stay active and boost your energy levels. Moderate exercise is especially good for people with Hashimoto’s who frequently struggle with muscle or joint pain.
It’s important not to overdo it when it comes to exercise. Overexerting yourself can actually negatively impact thyroid function and your body’s ability to convert inactive thyroid hormones to their active form.
The right amount of exercise, in combination with the right thyroid medication (if approved by your doctor), will keep your energy levels higher and your hormone levels where they need to be.
Have A Reliable Support System
Having a reliable support system is another crucial part of living with Hashimoto’s. When you have an autoimmune condition, you experience a lot of ups and downs. Having people around you who understand what you’re going through and the struggles you face is super important. It not only makes it easier to cope with the struggles, but it makes the good days that much better.
Whether it’s a partner, your parents, a best friend, a sibling, or a coworker, the more people you can find to surround you with support, the better.
Consistency is also important for people with chronic illness, which may seem ironic, given that there’s very little consistency to the disease itself. But what I’m referring to here is the management of your illness.
It’s important to stay consistent with your diet, exercise, and other management techniques, to reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience a flare up.
By taking steps to manage your Hashimoto’s disease, you can prevent it from taking over your life.
You can read more about living with chronic illness, including what to do during a Hashimoto’s flare up or if Hashimoto’s is worse during your period, by clicking on the chronic illness tab on my blog.
But before you go, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have another tip for living with Hashimoto’s that you would like to share? Or maybe you’ve found a treatment option that works for you? I want to hear all about it!