Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Hashimoto's Treatment Plan

I mentioned earlier this week that I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Syndrome and Hypothyroid. Admittedly, this diagnosis sounds somewhat dramatic because it is an auto-immune disease (*just put it on my tab at this point*). But I really want to stress that the reason I was surprised by this diagnosis, was because I have been feeling just fine.

I had my first wonky thyroid reading almost 3 years ago. And if you look at the list of symptoms.
- Fatigue
- Cold Intolerance
- Dry Skin (in my case eczema), and
- Muscle Aches
a lot of them apply. But for me, they were pretty easy to explain away with other things. Between working full-time, finishing up my psychology degree, and training regularly for marathons/half marathons/triathlon it is not that surprising that I have felt tired. And then add to that a lot of major life stress - Medical Setbacks, losing my Dad, buying our first house, and my recent miscarriage - I think feeling worn down from time to time only seems natural.

I started exploring several different holistic health options this past month, not because I have been feeling bad. But really, because after my miscarriage in August, I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to have a healthy body for a future pregnancy.

I realize that my miscarriage likely had nothing to do with me, or anything I did or didn't eat, but I think most women who experience this kind of loss have these questions in the back of their head. So for me, starting acupuncture and working with a Naturopath was just a way for me to feel proactive moving forward.

My amazing Naturopath Cara is the one who immediately discovered my hypothyroid issue. I went and spoke to my GP about it as well to decide how I wanted to move forward.

After giving all of the treatment options some thought and doing plenty of my own research I have ultimately decided that I want to start taking a lose dose synthroid. It will balance out my TSH levels a little bit faster than potentially some other natural options. And it is a medication that has been well tested and is safe for pregnancy if/when that time comes. I have an appointment on Thursday to get my prescription and get started with this more traditional form of treatment.

Cara and I have discussed several things I can do from a diet perspective to help treat and manage Hashimoto's. The number one dietary change being going Gluten-Free. With Hashimoto's when immune antibodies tag gluten for removal from the bloodstream, where it landed thanks to a leaky gut, this stimulates production of antibodies against the thyroid gland as well. In other words, every time you eat gluten, your immune system launches an attack not only against gluten but also against the thyroid gland.

We did briefly talk about the AutoImmune Paleo Diet, and while I definitely agree there is a strong case for it, I don't think I am ready to go there yet. I have done elimination diets in the past, and while I saw great health benefits from it, from a life-enjoyment perspective it was a STRUGGLE.

I will be the first to admit that diet has always been my downfall.

I love working out, I love to sweat - so that part of a healthy lifestyle has never been hard for me. But I like food. Specifically, food that tastes amazing, but is not necessarily ideal fuel. I like bread. I like sugar. I like cheese. And while I strive to eat a relatively healthy diet the majority of the time, there are times where it is nice to just enjoy some chicken wings/candy/donuts/burgers/etc. And I don't like feeling restricted. I like having the option to be flexible when I am out with friends and want to indulge. So making dietary changes are always hard for me.

This is why I want to ease into these changes and be realistic about what will work for me.

I started limiting Gluten 2 weeks ago, but have now fully transitioned to being 100% Gluten-Free. I am also focusing on a few other key dietary changes.

1. Including Protein in Every Meal and Snack
This has been a big change for me. I am not a big meat-eater and never have been. I tend to gravitate towards a plant-based lifestyle. But I am also a lazy plant-based eater and tend to center my diet more heavily around carbs than plant-based protein. So over the past few weeks I have been concentrating on having protein make up 30% my daily diet. This is a transition, especially when fueling for training. And there has been a bit of learning curve involved, but I am getting there.

2. No Dairy
Pretty self-explanatory, and not all that difficult day-to-day. I have had issues with dairy in the past, so I only tend to indulge with cheese in social situations. This will be a struggle come Christmas, but it is manageable.

3. Limit/Eliminate Processed Sugar
This was hard for me. While I don't regularly indulge in sweets, sugar is in a lot of things. And it creeps into your diet pretty easily. I have talked my sneaky sugar habit in the past, so I did experience some sugar withdrawal.

The first time I cut sugar I felt horrible! My energy was extremely low and I generally just felt kind of miserable. This time it was not too bad, but I did have a dull headache for about 10 days. My withdrawal symptoms were completely gone by last Thursday and I can now say that do feel really good on this new meal plan. The changes are working.

4. Take My Supplements
I have never been a big supplement person, for a couple of reasons...
1.) I often forget to take them
2.) There are a lot of supplement options out there, and they aren't all good. And just because someone takes a certain supplement and loves it, doesn't mean that it what you and your body needs.
3.) I have always preferred to try to get the right nutrition from food rather than a supplement.
But Cara has started me on a full supplement routine to tackle my specific needs. This is also why I had blood work done, to see if there where any key nutrients my body was missing. In this particular scenario I am game to get on the supplement bandwagon, because there is a method to the madness. The supplements I am taking are prescribed in a thoughtful way and make sense to treat my body and my goals. (*Cara also made me a supplement schedule for the fridge so I don't forget*)

So that is where I am currently, slowly easing into these new dietary changes. And trying my best to do the right things for my health and for my body.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,