Do you feel like your thyroid is sabotaging your energy, your waistline and even your sex life?
You are positive that you’re eating healthy and lightly but you can’t stop the scale from climbing!
Is this possible?
Yes! You are NOT crazy!
And here’s why.
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.
When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight. Even though you’re eating the same way you always have.
But there’s definitely more to the story than just your thyroid. Let’s dive into some of the less obvious underlying things that can affect it and throw it off course.
- Yo Yo Dieting
- Powering Though Cravings
- The Right Thyroid Tests
- Lack of Support
Yo Yo Dieting
Many of us have been taught that the less you eat and the more you exercise the skinnier you would get. That it was as simple as calories in minus calories out. As long as the calories out were bigger then what went in you will lose weight.
But that never happened for me. I tried every calorie and food restrictive diet out there and still couldn’t lose the weight. I learned that calories were a very small part to a very big picture. You see it’s not JUST about calories. Whether you burn or store fat is determined by hormones NOT by energy in vs energy out. Yes that plays a small role, but the TYPE of energy is WAY more important because the food you are eating and the particular way it digests is completely integral to setting the stage for the right hormones to be in control.
I learned that starvation mode is a real thing. Your metabolism literally down regulates when you don’t eat enough. especially your thyroid hormones. And if you do lose some weight many find themselves gaining rebound weight- which often means more pounds than they started with
Pro Tip: Eat a whole food, plant based diet that incorporates balanced amount of the four macro nutrients: Fat, Fibre, Carbs and Proteins.
Powering Through Cravings
The belief that it’s NORMAL to have to avoid certain foods using willpower, and success depends on the strength of our willpower. This is one of the biggest diet fails for everyone I’ve worked with. When I learned that cravings actually had a physiological basis. That I craved carbs and junk food because my blood sugar was unbalanced and my body was desperately trying to achieve balance my mind was blown.
A simple way to describe the blood sugar roller coaster is to follow the digestion process for a simple carbohydrate like a bagel, pasta or white potatoes. Once you eat that carb it breaks down really quickly into glucose (a form of sugar) that is used by the body cells for energy. Insulin is a hormone that gets sent in once glucose levels rise in the blood to usher the glucose to the cells, tissues and muscles that need it. This rush of glucose all at once is the ‘high’ on the blood sugar roller coaster. Once all those cells are saturated the rest of the glucose is stored in fat cells for use later. But that’s also when the ‘low’ comes in for the roller coaster, which is a crash in blood sugar that triggers cravings in the body for more sugar. The more concentrated the form of sugar is in the foods we eat the larger and more frequent these dips become.
So there you go, all of this time spent thinking that these cravings were all about your mood and your likes/dislikes, when there is something so basic and easily controlled driving them? Can you imagine how good it feels to finally be in control of cravings?
Pro Tip: Balance your blood sugar levels. Switch to more health fats with complex carbohydrates with lots of fibre (avocado’s, sweet potato’s etc.) to slow down digestion and overall impact on your blood sugar levels.
It seems to be everywhere! So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.
But did you know that the stress hormone cortisol can actually down regulates your thyroid and competes with resources like iodine required to make your thyroid hormones?
While you can’t necessarily change your stressors; you can try to adjust your stress response to them. In other words build up your stress resiliance!
Pro Tip: Try meditation or yoga. Or even mindful eating. What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now?
Get The Right Thyroid Tests Done
While the TSH test is a good indicator of a thyroid problem these specific tests will help identify the specific thyroid hormone that needs to be addressed with your doctor.
Free T3: T3 and T4 are your body’s main thyroid hormones. T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone used by your cells, that directly affects your weight and energy.
Free T4: T4 comes in 2 forms Free and Bound. Free T4 is the one that can be converted to active T3. Bound T4 cannot be used for energy or metabolic processes. So its more important to measure for Free T4.
Reverse T3: Reverse T3 is also converted from T4 and helps slow down entry of Free T3 your cells. If you have too much Reverse T3 it could prevent Free T3 from entering your cells.
TPO antibodies: This test is to check for autoimmune disease of the thyroid known as Hashimoto’s. The presence of these antibodies means your body is destroying the thyroid itself.
Pro Tip: Doctor or government medical plans refusing your request? Find a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor to help you. Most are very willing to work with your doctor. Also many company provided health benefit plans cover these costs. Even if the cost of the tests come out of your own pocket it might help your medical practitioners fine tune your prescription and remedy the problem sooner.
Lack of Support
I worked in the corporate world for almost 20 years before switching careers and becoming a nutritionist. In the corporate world having a mentor and finding your champions were critical to building a successful career. In my case it was those mentors & champions who helped me move from an entry level customer service rep to an executive role. I relied on the expertise, experiences and coaching to navigate the unknown paths of my own career.
Having had that experience and having it work successfully for me, I am constantly surprised when I see people taking their health journey’s without a mentor, advocate or coach. When making decisions about your health it’s very similar to using a mentor to build your career, they act as your steering committee, advisory board and educators. If it’s a path you haven’t travelled before why not get some reliable people around you healing round table and set yourself up for success? Even just having someone or a support group that can empathize with you situation helps!
Pro Tip: Don’t go it alone. Many companies now offer their employees medical/health benefit plans that cover the cost of alternative health services like nutritionists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapy, psychiatrists etc.
There are lots of underlying, less obvious factors when it comes to losing weight with a pre existing thyroid condition. I specialize in thyroid health because it was a big part of my personal journey but also because it’s a really prevalent problem for women over 40’s. In fact over 1/3 of women over 40 have a thyroid complaint. Almost half of them are undiagnosed or left untreated. That’s a real problem. Especially because it presents itself with so many symptoms like the one’s we’ve listed here that really hold women back from enjoying their lives. But the real issue that I see with the current approach to addressing thyroid imbalances is that it focuses on a prescription – which is a synthetic hormone replacement that doesn’t even try to address root cause. It doesn’t try to understand why your thyroid is acting up in the first place. Your thyroid imbalance is just a symptom and all of the area’s we discussed here – all impact your thyroid and your waistline. So if you aren’t addressing these then your thyroid never has a fighting chance. If you are struggling with these symptoms and have a thyroid imbalance I have developed a small symptom based quiz that helps you figure out your next step. Head over here to create your personalized plan to address root cause and stop relying on your prescription alone. Discover Your Thyroid Personality Quiz.