If you’re putting in daily effort towards living a healthy lifestyle, and yet still feel as if you’re not getting the results that you deserve. You’re not alone.
It’s a collective struggle upon us. Many of us are doing everything right, by the means of eating, clean, getting in daily movement and being mindful of our wellness in all areas, and yet we’re not experiencing the same results as everyone else.
Instead of losing a few well-deserved pounds, we’re left stuck feeling tired, frustrated and fluffy.
With a little bit of digging into why we’re experiencing weight gain (and having such a hard time losing it), you might start questioning whether your thyroid function is impacting your results.
Hormones are a fickle friend, and an imbalance works against us in more ways than one. In the case of the thyroid, if this gland isn’t happy, it may be putting a damper on your results.
While the thyroid isn’t your only endocrine gland that may be experiencing a hormone imbalance, it’s estimated that 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disorder, and they probably don’t even know it.
Why Unexplained Weight Gain Matters
Unless you’ve been enjoying one too many specialty lattes, smoothie bowls loaded with nut butter and granola or suffer from a case of the disappearing snacks during Netflix (where did that bowl of chips go?!), your body shouldn’t just gain weight with no significant changes to your eating patterns, stress levels, and lifestyle.
Unexpected weight gain (and weight loss) is often a tell-tale sign that something is up. Your thyroid may be over- or under-producing thyroid hormone. If you’ve been told by your doctor or practitioner that your thyroid appears sluggish, it’s important for you to know what foods you should try to avoid, and what you should include more of.
Your thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, and it works to regulate your various bodily systems with the help of its hormones. These hormones have far-reaching effects on energy metabolism (i.e. calories burnt), temperature regulation, digestion, and cellular growth.
An underactive or overactive thyroid means that this gland is not ‘fluttering’ at the proper speed. Your thyroid has the power to make or break your weight loss goals and an imbalance is often joined with an array of symptoms:
- Poor sleep
- Feeling tired after a full night of rest
- Irregular and inconsistent bowel movements
- High cholesterol levels
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Poor cognitive focus and function
- Bloating and inflammation
- Painful PMS symptoms for women
Many external factors influence our hormone levels, and since our bodies are truly designed to thrive – if you don’t feel like you’re thriving, surely something is not right.
If thyroid function is your concern, use nutrition to your advantage. Make informed decisions for your health and gear your lifestyle towards your individual needs, if you’re not sure how you can do that – work with a qualified natural health practitioner, alongside your medical doctor. When it comes to eliminating otherwise healthy foods (i.e cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, edamame) from your diet in the name of thyroid function its always best to consume the highest comfortable dose that allows for adequate thyroid functionality. In other words, reduce if you can, with the complete elimination being the last resort. Of course there are certain foods that are always good to avoid/reduce, such as processed flour, sugar, and for many people, gluten.
Foods to Avoid or Reduce
Gluten is not necessarily the cause of autoimmune thyroid disease (i.e. Hashimoto’s and Grave’s), but it can trigger a response in some people . Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley and is composed of two proteins known as glutenin and gliadin.
If you have an autoimmune thyroid disease and eat foods containing gluten, your immune system may mistakenly be attacking your thyroid gland because of this. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut (leaky gut) and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack healthy thyroid tissue. 
Gluten intolerance is very common, and it often goes undetected, as many doctors and patients think it can only cause digestive issues. Gluten intolerance can also present itself in the form of inflammation in the joints, skin, respiratory tract and brain – and there may be no digestive symptoms at all.
This is especially important for those following a plant-based diet. Soy is a complete protein and often plays a large role in a plant-base diet. However many make the mistake of focusing on highly processed soy ‘foods’ when replacing animal proteins. These are products such as soy-based ‘meats’, cheeses, soy protein isolate, protein bars, and yogurts. Soy naturally contains lectins and isoflavones, which can become more concentrated with processing. Excessive amounts of these both of which may inhibit natural hormone synthesis and block iodine uptake, which is key to thyroid health. So if you have hypothyroidism, it may be best to focus on plant-based proteins such as quinoa, hemp, peas, lentils, and other legumes. If tolerated small amounts of minimally processed soy foods can be consumed such as edamame and tempeh.
While coffee has ‘antioxidant properties’, surely there are caffeine-free phytonutrients that you can include. Caffeine is known to influence fluctuating blood sugar levels, contribute to cortisol spikes (especially when consumed during stressful periods), weaken the immune system and tire the adrenal glands.
Stress and adrenal fatigue play a huge role in thyroid function when your adrenals can’t keep up with your stress levels, they call in for help from other endocrine systems, and often the thyroid is affected as it gives up its hormone precursor materials to support its friend, the adrenal glands.
Our need for dairy is for more for pleasure than nutrition, especially when it comes to a straight-up glass of milk. Even those without a thyroid issue are likely to experience bloating, gas and irritable bowel. Milk proteins such as casein and whey are often difficult for the body to break down, and dairy farming often involves unsightly practices and the use of hormones and antibiotics, which end up in the final product. Switch to fortified oat, hemp, almond, cashew or coconut instead. If milk is a major source of protein in your diet, make sure to increase it from elsewhere if you decide to give it the boot. This is because most plant-based milk substitutes do not have the same level of protein as cows milk.
Refined and Processed Sugars:
We all need a little sweetness in our life. But it doesn’t need to come from refined and processed sources. Deep-deep down, you may already be familiar with how refined sugars are like a form of evil in the body: from being highly addictive, influencing us to pack on the pounds, triggering inflammation, worsening adrenal fatigue, feeding cancer cells, negatively influencing cognitive function, messing with our energy levels and of course, presenting the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Enjoy more sweet and juicy phytonutrient-rich berries to get your sugar fix, and make recipes with natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.
Sulfur-rich vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and dark leafy greens have received a bad rep as these ‘goitrogenic’ vegetables may interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. However these vegetables are so beneficial, it’s not worthwhile to skip them. You would have to eat excessive amounts of these to have any negative impact. You should, however, be more mindful of how much thyroid-supporting selenium you’re consuming.
Foods to Thrive on
Insufficient levels of iodine limit the production of thyroid hormones. When you include natural seaweed products, such as sprinkling nori flaked on your food, you’re naturally increasing your iodine intake, which aids your thyroid and immune system functions.
Wild Fish & Omega-3:
Fish is a source of lean protein and anti-inflammatory fats including omega-3. Our intake of essential fatty acids is very imbalanced in the North American diet, we are consuming far too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. If you can try and include at least 2 servings of fish per week, our fishy friends do wonders for naturally decreasing inflammation levels.
Eggs and Meat:
Choose animal products that are pasture-raised or grass-fed. When it comes to lean meats, they are an excellent source of zinc, a mineral which like selenium and iodine – supports a healthy thyroid. Eggs are also an abundant source of iodine.
Experiencing a thyroid imbalance and any associated weight gain can be a tiring and frustrating condition to manage. Try to eliminate or reduce gluten, soy, coffee, and refined sugars you should naturally experience an increase in energy levels (after a few days of natural food withdrawal symptoms). When it comes to healthy whole foods, its best not to eliminate if you don’t need to.
Working with a natural health practitioner who focuses on thyroid health may be another value to your health, which would ensure you achieve your best results. They will be able to assess your health history, perform tests and make individualized and personalized recommendations.
Remember that your body was designed to feel nothing less than amazing. Don’t let suboptimal be your norm.
- The Gluten-Thyroid Connectionhttps://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection/
- 12 Foods Linked to Your Thyroid and Weight Gainhttps://www.organifishop.com/blogs/news/12-foods-thyroid-weight-gain
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