The Hashimoto’s Diet: How to Lose Weight, Beat Fatigue, and Get Your Energy Back
It’s been said before: Food is fuel, and fuel is what keeps you going (or not). What if the fuel you’re putting into your body isn’t the right fuel? What if it’s like putting diesel in your sedan or low-octane fuel in a high-performance vehicle?
If you have Hashimoto’s, you may already be intimately aware of the food sensitivities commonly present with the disease. If not, you may be experiencing symptoms because of food sensitivities you haven’t even pinpointed yet.
I’m here to say you aren’t destined to a life of pain and discomfort from food with Hashimoto’s. You can enjoy food without worrying about the after-effects or a future Hashi flare-up. By discovering what food – what fuel – works and doesn’t work with your body, you can begin to eliminate problematic foods and replace them with healing ones. You can also discover the foods to help you thrive and heal from Hashimoto’s – not just survive.
Luckily, you don’t have to embark on the journey to find your perfect Hashimnoto’s diet from the very beginning – or even alone. I have healed my Hashimoto’s and helped thousands of other women reduce or eliminate their symptoms, too. Through my work at the clinic, my personal experience, and years of research, trial, and error, I’m here to help you discover what fuel works best for your body by starting with what has worked for so many others with Hashimoto’s.
Keep in mind: no one diet is perfect for everyone. And if you’re looking to change the way you eat for good, it will require a lifestyle shift for the better.
The Best Diet for Energy and Weight Loss with Hashimoto’s
If you’re ready to embark on the journey towards discovering the best Hashimoto’s diet for YOU so you can lose weight, beat fatigue, and get your energy back, keep reading! In this post, I’ll share my top 8 Hashimoto’s diet success tips to serve as your launching point. Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Discover Your Food Sensitivities
Before you start any type of diet, it’s important to identify your food sensitivities. When you are sensitive to a particular kind of food – or something found in certain types of food – it can cause inflammation anywhere in your body. This inflammation, in turn, can affect your thyroid. And with Hashimoto’s, when your thyroid is affected, it triggers a chain reaction impacting your thyroid hormone production, metabolism, and general well being because your thyroid auto-antibodies attack the thyroid itself.
Whether you discover a food allergy or a food sensitivity, the result is the same: War waged on the thyroid by the immune system’s inflammatory response.
Although I recommend testing to discover your unique allergies and sensitivities, a few have shown to be common in people with Hashimoto’s. They’re common enough, in fact, to use as an elimination starting point to see how you feel without them.
Common food sensitivities for people with Hashimoto’s include:
- Gluten: A substance present in cereal grains like wheat and semolina (pasta).
- Dairy: Including cow’s milk, cheese, and cream.
- Goitrogens: Substances disrupting the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogenic foods include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and radishes.
- Cross reactors: including eggs, corn, oats, rice, millet, and yeast.
Luckily, many of the foods you may be sensitive to aren’t typically part of an effective weight loss diet (like bread, cheese, and pasta). So if your goal is to lose weight with Hashimoto’s, it’ll only make it easier to know which foods are not only high in calories but likely to cause actual damage to your body as well. By understanding your sensitivities, you have the opportunity to eliminate certain foods and replace them with safe ones.
Tip #2: Begin with the AIP Protocol
AIP stands for the Autoimmune Paleo protocol, which is similar to the popular paleo diet. People with autoimmune disorders or even severe digestive problems have seen massive benefits from this protocol and have been loving their results. The AIP protocol reduces antibodies and inflammation in the gut while increasing gut health, hormone regulation, and energy. And, as mentioned above, when antibodies and inflammation are reduced, the body stops its attack on the thyroid and allows it to function normally. The AIP protocol was built with four key pillars in mind: nutrient density, gut health, hormone regulation, and immune system regulation.
Our Hashimoto’s symptoms arise when our immune system attacks our body. With the AIP protocol, the body is fed only good, nourishing, non-inflammatory foods without triggering an attack.
When you’re on the AIP protocol, expect to get rid of foods like processed sugars, grains, and dairy, which work against your weight loss efforts, cause inflammation in the body and give rise to a whole host of other symptoms. But don’t worry – you won’t have to say goodbye to some of your favorite guilty pleasures forever. With the protocol, you strategically eliminate foods then gradually reintroduce them, assessing changes in your body along the way. The goal here is to fuel your body with nutritionally dense and noninflammatory foods.
When it comes to diet, many people tend to focus on all the foods they can’t have, which can make the whole process quite a drag. Instead, let’s focus on all the delicious foods you can eat!
- Meat (preferably grass-fed)
- Vegetables, excluding nightshades
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruit in small quantities
- Coconut milk
- Avocado, olive, and coconut oil
- Honey or maple syrup in small quantities
- Fresh non-seed herbs (basil, mint, and oregano, for example)
- Bone broth
- Grass-fed gelatin and arrowroot starch
Important to note is the lifestyle change guidelines within the AIP protocol. We’ll get into the importance of creating healthy habits (not just diet-related ones) later.
Tip #3: Go Low Histamine
Histamine is a chemical in the immune system. It reacts when you are allergic or hypersensitive to something you eat or come into contact with. Your body produces histamine, and it’s even found in certain foods. People with Hashimoto’s are more likely to have histamine intolerance, so reducing or eliminating histamine-rich foods may help reduce symptoms of inflammation in the body.
Some histamine-rich foods include:
- Dry, cured, or otherwise unfresh meats
- Matured cheeses
- Rice vinegar
- Ready-made meals
- Salty snacks and sweets with preservatives and artificial colorings
Histamine intolerance can manifest itself due to a number of reasons. For one, there’s intolerance of the histamine chemical itself. However, certain foods indirectly influence histamine levels, such as histamine liberators, diamine oxidase inhibitors, and other biogenic amines/substances affecting intestinal permeability.
Histamine liberators help release histamine from other foods. Some histamine liberators include:
- Citrus fruits
- Cocoa and chocolate
- Wheat germ
- Most kinds of vinegar
- Additives like benzoate, sulfites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
The primary function of diamine oxidase is to break down histamine in the body. So if you’re histamine intolerant and eat foods inhibiting your body’s natural ability to break it down, you can experience unwanted reactions. Some foods diamine oxidase inhibitors include:
- Black tea
- Energy drinks
- Mate tea
Some biogenic amines and substances affecting intestinal permeability (commonly called “Leaky Gut Syndrome”) include:
- Alcohol, which may increase the uptake of allergens in the intestinal tract and lower your food allergen threshold
- Hot spices (pepper, chili, curry, etc) because they increase the intestinal permeability for histamine, which enhances histamine uptake
Try eliminating histamine-rich foods and foods impacting your histamine uptake and break down. See how you feel. And remember, give yourself a few weeks to experience positive results when you change your diet, but if things get worse, pivot back immediately.
Tip #4: Be Mindful of Your Body’s Changes
Your body is ever-changing. A past successful diet may not work again and you may have new or increased sensitivities. Alternatively, as you eliminate and reintroduce certain foods to your body, you may experience vastly different bodily responses in a positive way.
This is normal.
By following a diet like the AIP protocol, the goal isn’t just to lose weight or decrease other Hashimoto’s symptoms like fatigue and hair loss. It’s to actually heal the body and address the root cause of the disease, which lies in the immune system, the gut, and the thyroid gland. As you address the root cause of Hashimoto’s and take steps to reduce inflammation and support the body in producing healthy levels of thyroid hormones through proper food, exercise, and lifestyle choices, your body will change.
You’ll find certain foods don’t create the same negative response in the body as they did before, and perhaps you may even lose your liking for certain foods and opt to keep them out of your diet permanently.
Acknowledge your body’s changes and recognize its evolution. Changing your diet isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a shift in lifestyle. And though it may be hard at first, it’ll feel so rewarding to finally feel like you understand your body and what it needs. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body through this transition and beyond.
Tip #5: Create Healthy Habits
I’d be remiss if I talked about Hashimoto’s diet success tips and didn’t highlight the importance of creating the healthy habits necessary to sustain any positive change in behavior.
The truth is, sticking to your best Hashimoto’s diet may not be easy at first.
After all, there’s…
…the restaurant breadbasket
…ice cream with the kids
…half and half in your morning coffee
…Happy Hour with the girlfriends
…those classic family recipes laden with gluten, cheese, and cream
…so many habits, restaurant foods, and convenient bites aren’t the best for your Hashimoto’s. And if you’re a busy mom, working professional, student, or a combination of all three, it can seem impossible to manage a diet with such restrictions.
Enter the importance of healthy habits.
Trust me, if you can create healthy daily habits to support your goals, they’ll feed each other and the journey will be so much easier.
To start, plan, plan, PLAN!
Plan your meals in advance. Even prepare them ahead-of-time if you have to! This will prevent you from dipping into unhealthy snacks or rolling through a last-minute drive-through after work. By planning ahead, you set yourself up for long-term success.
It’s also important to incorporate healthy sleep, stress management, and exercise habits (like weight training!) into your daily life since these greatly impact your immune system as well.
With better sleep, stress management, and exercise, you’ll likely find you feel more energized and motivated to keep on track with your diet. And with your diet in check, you’ll sleep better and your exercise will be more effective!
See? Every healthy habit fuels the other and helps you stay motivated and on-track. And by creating those healthy habits in the first place, you make it all possible. So, plan, get good sleep, manage your stress (try meditation and breathing exercises!), and exercise regularly. To learn more about the best ways to exercise with Hashimoto’s, click here. You may be surprised to discover why some types of exercise impact your Hashimoto’s more than others.
Tip #6: Manage Your Medications
If you’re taking medication for your Hashimoto’s, make sure your doctor is ordering the necessary bloodwork to keep track of your progress.
Some tests your doctor may take include:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test
- Free T3 & T4 test
- Reverse T3 test
- Antithyroid antibody test
- An ultrasound of your thyroid gland to examine its size and appearance
Your diet and new healthy habits can make a positive impact on your body and its natural production of hormones, so you want to make sure everything is kept in balance and you’re able to adjust your medication accordingly.
Tip #7: Protein!
Did you notice the AIP Protocol calls for lots of protein? This is not an accident. Protein is necessary for the creation of important things in your body like hormones, enzymes, tissues, and chemicals. No wonder it’s such a critical component of a diet recommended for those of us with an autoimmune disorder, especially one directly impacting our hormones. Protein also helps boost your metabolism, which is important for weight loss.
Choose complete proteins – the ones containing all 9 essential amino acids – which are found in animal protein. Your body cannot produce all nine essential amino acids on its own. Some other necessary nutrients for thyroid health found in animal protein include selenium, zinc, iron, and tyrosine.
If you want to lose weight with Hashimoto’s, protein is what will help you stay fuller longer and decrease your hunger hormones. It’ll also fuel your muscles so they can work to burn fat and support healthy thyroid function.
Feel better, be stronger, and lose stubborn weight? Yes, please!
Tip #8: Track Your Progress
As you begin your Hashimoto’s diet journey, track your progress! Take note of what you eat, how you feel, and how your body and symptoms improve over time. Keep a journal, use an App, take notes on your calendar – whatever method is easiest to do easily and consistently. After a while, you’ll be more in-tune with your body and you’ll be able to pinpoint what foods help or hinder your Hashimoto’s symptoms.
As you can see, the best diet for weight loss, beating fatigue and reducing the number of other symptoms you may be experiencing with Hashimoto’s starts with an understanding of your unique body. There’s no one-size-fits-all cure-all; just what I have seen to work with thousands of women after we discovered their body’s needs and reactions.
If you’re starting from the beginning, I recommend the AIP protocol and a gluten-free diet after you’ve taken bloodwork and tested fro any allergies or sensitivities. Incorporating a low-histamine diet makes things a bit more complicated – as some recommended foods in the AIP protocol are considered high-histamine – but the awareness of what those foods are can help you identify any sensitivities you may have as you take note of how your body responds to them.
Understanding your body and following a diet to support it through the journey of healing your Hashimoto’s is one of the most empowering things you can do to take charge of your life and health. I encourage you to begin today. Health and happiness with Hashimoto’s are possible, and it’s absolutely necessary to consider your dietary choices if you want to lose weight in a sustainable way.
The path to health with Hashimoto’s can be a challenging one, but with support, guidance, and real-talk with real mentors who have been on the same journey, you’ll reach your goals and live the vibrant life you want. You deserve to show up fully for yourself, your family, and your life. And you can.If you’re interested in learning more about finding your perfect Hashimoto’s diet, join my free Thyroid Strong Facebook group. There, you’ll be a part of real conversations with people on the same journey. I’d love to help guide you in the right direction.
In Good Health,
Dr. Emily Kiberd