Shortly after I moved to Austin, I noticed I was way more tired than usual. Like, constantly exhausted. A lot of people had warned me that many people have some severe allergies once they first move here. I did some research and I thought I was experiencing symptoms of a mold allergy. I had an appointment to get set up with a new primary care physician in ATX and figured I’d address it then. We decided to do a full blood workup to be safe. Everything came back normal except for one panel – my TSH levels were high. I immediately started googling things and my doctor confirmed: I have hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough thyroid hormone. The main purpose of thyroid hormone is to “run the body’s metabolism.” As many as 10% of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency. After doing research, I had other symptoms, as well, but they were pretty mild and easily contributed to other causes. I never linked them all together. I’ve bolded the symptoms I experienced below.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Brittle nails
Someone may have any number of these symptoms and they will vary with the severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the proper amount of hormone.
You may have one of these symptoms as your main complaint, while another will not have that problem at all and will be suffering from an entirely different symptom. Most people will have a combination of these symptoms. Occasionally, some patients with hypothyroidism have no symptoms at all, or they are just so subtle that they go unnoticed.
Below are the ranges, according to the American Thyroid Association. Normal ranges can vary by individual, and they can even change over the course of a day. Also, ranges can vary slightly from lab to lab:
- 0.4: normal
- 2.5: at risk
- 4.0: mild hypothyroidism
- 10.0: hypothyroidism
My TSH levels came in at 6.3 as of March 2020. The easiest and most effective treatment is simply taking a thyroid hormone pill (levothyroxine), which I was prescribed. I’m supposed to take it first thing in the morning, an hour before eating or taking other medications or supplements. It will take about a month on the medicine to notice any improvements. The main side effect I was warned about was increased irritability, which I hope doesn’t happen but did warn my boss in case she needs to gut check me.
I also saw that I would need to drastically (for me) change my diet to help with hypothyroidism. A combination of the right nutrients and medication can help restore thyroid function and minimize symptoms.
Foods to Avoid:
- Soy (edamame, tofu, miso, etc)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts, etc)
- Fruits and starchy plants (sweet potatoes, cassava, peaches, strawberries, etc)
- Highly-processed foods (hot dogs, cakes, cookies, etc)
- Frozen foods
- Gluten and carbs (bread, pasta, rice, etc)
- Fried foods
Foods that May Help:
- Lean protein
- Iodine-rich foods (seaweed, fish, dairy, eggs, etc)
- Gluten-free grains and seeds (rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc)
Low carb and lots of meat? Sounds familiar… the Atkins diet! I’ve done low carb before and my body definitely reacts well to it, but my goal the last couple years has been to put on muscle mass, so I was not low carb by any means. I’ve adjusted my macros to be 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 40% fats. I am going to miss my carbs and gluten but thankfully I can essentially have all the meat, cheese, and dairy I want that stick within my calorie range.
This is a super new development for me – I’m on day 3 of my medication and diet now. I was also supposed to start a new fitness challenge (F45) this past week, but the coronavirus craziness has postponed that. I plan to do some at-home workouts with the equipment I have. I plan to give an update after I’ve been in my new routine for a few months and see how things are going.
Have any of you had problems with your thyroid? Do you have any tips or tricks for me? I would absolutely love to hear them. Please share in the comments!