Welcome back to part two of my series, “I Have Hashimoto’s Disease – Now What?” In my previous post, I talked about ways to cope with your Hashimoto’s diagnosis. In this post, I’ll share a little about what I’m doing to manage (and hopefully, reverse) this illness, how I’m doing on AIP, and things you can do now that may help you get back to feeling yourself again. I hope you’re able to get some motivation from my post today – if you have any questions I’m more than happy to answer them according to my own experience!
Please remember, I make no claim whatsoever toward being a doctor or an expert in health related matters. What I know and what I am speaking on is from my own experience, my personal research and my own body. Please take what I say as only my opinion, and whatever you choose do to, do it under the guidance of a medical practitioner who supports you and your wellness journey! Good luck and thank you for visiting!
I Have Hashimoto’s Disease – Now What? Part II
HOW I’M DOING ON AIP
At the point of this writing, I’ve been eating a strict AIP diet for almost seven months. Four months into the diet, my test results showed my antibodies were cut in half, significant improvement of my other thyroid numbers, and optimal ranges for Vitamin D. Currently, I’ve been able to successfully reintroduce certain foods, and have lost twenty pounds! I still have to get my updated micronutrient numbers, but I’m confident that they have improved as well.
Now, I’m not going to tell you it’s been rainbow sparkles this entire time, oh no. I’ve had my share of temper tantrums, self-pity parties, and fits of food rage (it’s hard to break up with bad eating habits). Being on a strict elimination diet, even when health and wellness are at stake, took a toll on me mentally. Thankfully, my husband and kids have been very supportive, and I have been able to stay the course with their help.
When your babies make you an AIP Mother’s Day Breakfast…
As far as food reintroductions are concerned, I tried to reintroduce food according to the stages set out by The Paleo Mom, but found that whenever I tried to “officially” reintroduce something, I’d get so stressed out, I could never tell if I was reacting to the food or to the pressure of NOT reacting to the food. To keep my stress levels low, I now just eat the new food item (whatever I feel like eating at the moment) and watch for symptoms closely. I feel so much more at ease this way. Would you like to see what I’ve been able/unable to reintroduce?
- Green Beans
- Whole eggs
- Dark Chocolate (depending on the brand)
- White Potatoes*
- White Rice* (cannot eat too much or too often – I get bloated)
*Some people in the AIP community will not agree with these reintros, but again, you know what your body needs, and if you can tolerate it and still see improvement in your numbers while enjoying these foods, I say go for it!
- Pepper (black and white)
- Avocado (I can eat this on occasion)
- Coconut (I can eat this on occasion)
I’ve stopped trying to reintroduce spices for the time being, but when I do, my first try will be curry – I miss it so.
Eating out at restaurants while on AIP has always been a struggle. It takes an incredible amount of patience and research to find restaurants that are “safe” for us to visit. Often, it requires bringing something of your own from home (tea bags if you want something to drink besides water, your own homemade salad dressing, and in some cases, even your own salt!). I have three go-to restaurants: two of them are allergy friendly, the third (a japanese restaurant), I just get sashimi or grilled fish over a bed of shredded cabbage. And recently, I learned that a local burger joint is allergy friendly, so we’ve brought home burgers from there a couple times, too. I did not eat out at restaurants for the first three months of my journey because I was paranoid about cross-contamination. Now that I’ve been at this for a while, I feel more confident about eating out.
MY PERSONAL PROTOCOL
Diet is one of the main keys to optimal health. However, it would a shame to think that that’s all the work that needs to be done! Here’s a list of what I do in my life to aid in reversing illness:
- Eat an AIP diet – with luck, I will be able to transition to a Paleo diet, minus my food sensitivities
- Supplement my vitamin and mineral deficiencies according to my micronutrient panel and my doctor’s recommendations. I make sure the supplements I use are gluten/dairy/soy/nightshade free.
- Sleep more (Naps during the day? SURE!)
- Get as much physical activity as my body can tolerate – which generally means yard work, house cleaning, and the occasional walk. The old adage “No Pain, No Gain” does not apply to people who have adrenal fatigue/autoimmune disease. It’s more like, “No Pain? Great!” Exercise according to YOUR personal comfort and energy levels
- Stress Management (For me, it means watching comedy TV, YouTube makeup tutorials, reading a book, and taking baths)
Remember that what works for me may not work for you. I really recommend you find a functional medical doctor or naturopath who will work with you, who is knowledgeable in this disease, and who is not afraid of a patient who asks questions! Be your own advocate!
THREE THINGS YOU CAN START DOING NOW
Having a chronic disease can be overwhelming, especially if you are experiencing a lot of physical pain, discomfort, and fatigue. If you are unable to see a doctor, or are feeling so put off and overwhelmed by the information that is available to you, then the following three things is what I would suggest you do right now:
1. Remove gluten from your diet
If you are not ready to go full blown AIP, then please do yourself a favor and just get off gluten! Most doctors who work with Hashimoto’s patients will agree that we should not be eating gluten. The reason why is there’s a protein in gluten – specifically called gliadin – that is very similar, molecularly speaking, to our thyroid tissue. So whenever we ingest it, our immune system sees this protein and goes after anything that looks like it, which means our own thyroid! If you’re already gluten free, but not ready to try AIP, consider removing dairy (casein is also similar to thyroid tissue), and soy. If you’ve given up gluten, dairy, and soy, why not consider going Paleo? I know that when I did Whole 30, I felt the best I had ever felt in my health since becoming a mom! Even if you choose not to go Paleo, get off the gluten!
2. Supplement your vitamin deficiencies
When it comes to Hashimoto’s, it is important to address all areas of our health since everything works together to either keep autoimmune disease at bay or trigger it into being. Our vitamin and mineral levels have a direct relationship to thyroid functionality, so it is critical to take a look at what your body needs.
I highly recommend you get tested so you know exactly where you need supplementing. The last thing you want is to start over supplementing in an area – that, too, will have a negative affect on your body. If you do not currently have a doctor that is willing to help you in this area, you can get tested on your own (this will most likely cost you out of pocket). Since I don’t have first hand experience in this area, I can’t recommend any companies that serve the consumer directly. That being said, I have read from other individuals that there are a good selection of companies out there. I suggest you do your due diligence when you research this option.
If you are simply not interested in testing all your levels, please do consider at least getting your Vitamin D levels tested – I think most doctor’s would be on board with that, and hopefully most insurance companies cover it. Vitamin D helps regulate our immune system, and since our immune system is what makes or breaks how it responds to our thyroid, it is a critical vitamin to keep at optimal levels.
3. Self Care
I divide self care into two categories: sleep/rest (both physically and mentally) and stress management. I can tell you that this step is the most difficult for me. As a mom, I have eight years experience of putting other individuals’ needs before my own. To switch that up, even for just an hour a day, is agonizing! I have trained myself so well in this area, that even when I WANT to have alone time, I experience guilt. Which stresses me out.
This has to change.
My usual excuse for not taking my self care seriously is that I have things that I need to do, kids I need to take care of, a house that needs to be maintained… blah blah blah. We NEED to make time for ourselves. Generally speaking, playing games or watching YouTube on my phone till one in the morning because “it’s the only time I have to myself” doesn’t count: sleep is part of the equation, too!
We have come to a point in our health where it is no longer an option but a necessity to take time out for ourselves. I notice an improvement in my energy and my mood when I take that time out for me. And guess what? My family notices, too: My kids get a nice, peaceful mommy, fixing them breakfast in the morning, instead of a cranky pants, running around looking for the keys, slinging burnt toast onto a paper plate. Don’t be like me. Get good sleep, rest your mind and body, keep stress at bay.
TIPS FOR STAYING ON TRACK
If you’ve begun taking steps toward healing, there could be a point where you get frustrated and want to quit. DON’T! This journey has its ups and downs, but you can do it! Here are some tips for keeping your eye on the prize:
- TAKE IT SLOW! We didn’t get sick over night, so we can’t expect to be healed over night! It’s okay not to do things perfectly. Focus on doing one thing at a time – it’s only a matter of time when you find yourself doing it all.
- About food on AIP: You pretty much have to make food from scratch. Save yourself the stress and resign yourself to this fact now. If you’re lucky to find a pre-made food you enjoy that *is* AIP Elimination Phase compliant, awesome! If not (we *are* dealing with a lot of food restrictions in the elimination phase), you’re within your rights to mourn the loss of your favorite treats and snacks. You’re normal. We all go through it!
- At the end of the day, even if you ate perfectly, and had the top Hashimoto doctor on your side, none of that will matter if you are miserable and hating life. As you think, so shall you be. Jessica Flanigan has a wonderful article regarding this very sentiment. Love yourself even in your illness. Your body is doing the best it can for you, how amazing is that?
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it has helped motivate you to take control of what you have the power to change right now. Having a chronic illness is not easy, but it CAN be managed, and many times, put into remission! Start today and you’ll thank yourself later!