Help For Hashimoto's Episode 3

I have been eating nothing but raw vegetables and water for 6 days. I have gained 3 pounds. I am at a loss. I have taken more D3 and B12. I have added magnesium to my diet. I am exercising even though I am exhausted all the time. I have resorted to taking sudafed because it makes me have energy.......please help. I have been to 2 different endocrinologists and they refuse to help. I have been gluten free for 6 weeks. What else can I do?

 

  1. with raw veggies only for 6 days…. How much were you eating. It could be that you were not eating enough and your body was starving and holding on to weight.
    1. If you were not eating enough it could deplete the adrenals and then you have an issue with cortisol. This is our main stress hormone and when it is working normally it can be anti-inflammatory and key for fat burning. It also helps keep our blood sugar and our blood pressure up. So, if you were not eating enough, your blood sugar would be low and cortisol would be released to save the day. This can be a problem if it is constantly working to help manage your blood sugar whether too high or too low. Cortisol is supposed to be low in the evening to get us ready for sleeping and higher in the morning so when we wake up we feel ready for the day. If this is not you, then you probably have an issue with your cortisol being out of balance. When cortisol is low it can affect your ability to tolerate your workouts, meaning you are exhausted after a work out.  Exercising too hard can wear out your adrenals and to work on healing them and getting them working properly again you need to slow down the workouts to basically just walking up to five days a week for an hour. 
        1. If you have low cortisol you will have symptoms like: 
          1. needing a pick me up in the morning or afternoon to keep you going such as coffee or in your case, sudafed to ramp you up. 
          2. cravings for salt in general, or sugar or starches between meals
          3. you feel burnt out or don’t handle stress well
          4. you feel like you need sunglasses even on a cloudy day
          5. Your blood pressure is low or you get dizzy when you stand up quickly from a sitting position
        2. If you have high cortisol
          1. you might have extra fat around your mid section
          2. you feel tired even after sleeping a full night
          3. you have poor digestion
          4. you might wake up tired and achy
          5. you have trouble falling asleep
      1. High cortisol issues and low cortisol issues can happen at the same time. They can sort of wax and wane. It is higher when we are dealing with chronic stress which can be physical or emotional and physical stress can include what is going in internally with your body and thyroid issues. When stress is chronic (and the diet and exercise you describe would be very stressful for you right now) you can get puffy, wired and tired, and you may gain weight. 
    2. This could have been detoxifying to your body and released something that your body couldn’t get rid of so you gained weight because we store toxins in our fat tissue. 
      1. If your detoxification pathways are not open (liver, skin, lungs, eliminations) and this diet of raw veggies over the last 6 days really cleaned things up internally but those toxins had nowhere to go then your body could have shuttled them in to your fat tissue. 
      2. All raw veggies can be hard on our digestive tract too. You might consider starting with some bone broth and cooked veggies before continuing with all raw veggies. You can steam veggies, cook them in broth (the most soothing to our digestive system), roast them, grill them or satue them in some healthy fats like coconut oil or olive oil. Broth will have minerals and collagen that are soothing and even healing to your digestive tract, especially the small intestine. 
    3. Were you avoiding fat because you were worried it will make you fatter?  This is not always true and consuming a small amount of healthy fats everyday is necessary for our cells to be healthy. Each cell is made of a layer of fat and we need healthy fats to make up the building blocks of our cells. This helps waste be removed from our cells and get nutrition in to our cells. 
  2. It would be nice to know amounts of D3 and B12 you are taking. 
    1. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin with defieciency being a contributor to autoimmune disease. We make vitamin d from cholesterol in our skin cells when we absorb UVB radiation from the sun. We need vitamin d for many processes in the body including the regulation and absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium and for our bones to mineralize and grow. It plays a role in regulating the release of serotonin which we need for our mental/emotional health and for good digestion. It also helps us heal and helps to regulate our immune system but it doesn’t work on it’s own and supplementation with a high dose is not in and of itself a solution. WE need to take it with other fat soluble vitamins (A, E, K —-D protects against A toxicity and A protects against D toxicity and large amounts of A&D increase the need for K—-consuming liver is a great way to get all of these from food.) and we can’t use or assimilate our fat soluble vitamins with out taking them with fat.  There was a study done around 1980 with Wheat Bran showing the possibility that it can prevent us from absorbing vitamin d, creating a possible deficiency. 
        1. food sources of vitamin d besides liver are: 
          1. salmon
          2. sardines
          3. tuna
          4. eggs (if you tolerate them)
          5. shiitake mushrooms
    2. B12
      1. we need this to help with the metabolism of carbs, proteins and fats in our cells and it is really important in making and regulating DNA, making fatty acids and in energy production. 
      2. We need good gut bacteria to be able to use most of the B12 we take in so getting it from food is always best. Also, you can only get B12 from animals (unless you supplement) like shellfish, and meat products and it is produced by the animals gut bacteria. 
        1. sardines have the highest amount of B12 per serving 
        2. then salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, beef
  3. Exercise- if you are exhausted, then don’t exercise. Go for a walk. This will help your adrenals heal. Anything you do while working on healing your adrenals should not be debilitating, grueling or super competitive. Yoga, tai chi, kick boxing, swimming, walking, even dancing. Do something enjoyable and start slow and work your way in to it. Most important is to do it at your own pace. You might be overexercising. 
    1. Again, when the adrenals are off this can lead to weight gain. 
  4. You have been gluten free for 6 weeks. This is great. Gluten is not the friend of someone with Hashimoto’s or thyroid issues so staying off it is a good first step. What else can you do, you ask?
    1. you can eat at least one pound of veggies, cooked and raw, remember I said cooked will be gentler on your digestion. Eat a wide variety keeping in mind the autoimmune protocol and nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc) being inflammatory for some of us with thyroid issues. 
    2. consume about 25 grams of protein each meal for four meals or work in 100 grams of protein in a day. 
      1. one serving of salmon should have around 22 grams of protein and a small chicken breast should have around 28grams
    3. Get some healthy fats in your diet
      1. avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, coconut milk, nuts if you tolerate them, ghee if you tolerate it. 
    4. Fruits in small amounts and stick to berries mostly but get a variety. 
    5. Spices and herbs are also great. Be mindful of pepper and seed based spices if you are doing the autoimmune protocol. 
  5. Avoid
    1. gluten and grains
    2. dairy
    3. sugar
    4. alcohol
    5. Coffee won’t help your adrenals 

 

 

I’m trying to find the limits/dimensions of my food sensitivities and figure out how to navigate eating out and would like to start introducing nightshades but am a little confused because my dietician says if you’re sensitive to one nightshade, you’re sensitive to them all. (I am gluten, dairy and sugar-free. I was full AIP for months, but have started reintroducing foods.)

 

For context, my three exposures:

1st and 2nd - I ate 1/4 of a fresh tomato and about 20 hours later felt extremely anxious (8 or 9 out of 10) and one of those times I had heart palpitations.
3rd - I took a chance and ate meat marinated with bell peppers. No reaction, which was great. Maybe being in the marinade isn’t enough exposure? Or maybe because the meat was cooked? Curious what is going on. 

 

 

  1. Nightshades: 
    1. contain a couple thousand different species of plants, most are inedible and poisonous. Eating too many of these can kill off our cells and contribute to a leaky gut and really eating too many can actually be poisonous. It is thought that low level exposure can contribute to health problems over time. 
    2. Which foods are considered nightshades?
      1. bell peppers, hot peppers and spices made from them
      2. tomatoes
      3. ground cherries/gooseberries
      4. eggplant
      5. goji berries
      6. pimentos
      7. potatoes
      8. tomatillos
      9. ashwaganda (a popular herbal adaptogen for adrenals)
  2. Reintroducing foods. 
    1. How many months did you do full AIP?
    2. Waiting until you are in feeling your best and your labs look good to do reintroductions is ideal. This gives your gut a chance to heal and bring down any lingering inflammation. 
      1. also making sure stress is well managed is important. Don’t do reintroductions during a stressful time in your life. It can likely set your recovery/remission back quite a bit. 
      2. If you have been aip for a month or longer you can consider reintroductions if you have good digestion, you are not getting worse rather than better and you can manage your hashi’s/thyroid problems well. You may still need medication and that is okay. 
      3. Don’t start with foods you know you have an allergy to. 
      4. If you have a reaction to something, it is likely you need to work on healing your gut more. 
    3. How to reintroduce a food
      1. Start with one food, you pick it but here is a suggestion of where to start: 
        1. egg yolks
        2. legumes (green beans and peas)
        3. spices
        4. oils made from nuts or seeds
        5. ghee
      2. Eat the food you pick 2-3 times in one day and then don’t reintroduce another food for about a week. 
        1. start with less than a teaspoon or so of the food you picked and then wait for about 15 minutes. If you notice any symptoms immediately, stop and wait a week or so to try again. 
        2. no reaction, have a small bite, wait 15 more minutes, then a slightly bigger bite, wait for a couple of hours and pay close attention to how you feel. 
          1. symptoms can be digestive, changes in energy, cravings, sleeping issues, headaches, dizzy feeling, runny nose, more phlegm coughing, clearing your throat, itching, aches, skin rashes, mood issues. 
          2. you can eat a bigger portion at a meal on the day you reintroduced it if this reintro went well. 
        3. wait 4-7 days before introducing another food if that went well. 
        4. If reintroducing a spice, you can reintro it in smaller amounts than I just suggested as it is consumed in small amounts. 
      3. You might find that you can tolerate a food on a rotation type basis or just every once in awhile but not everyday. This is okay- it helps ensure you get some variety in your diet. 
      4. Keeping a food journal can be very helpful to try and pinpoint where something went wrong. 
  3. I have not read anywhere about all or nothing with nightshades. Based on the way reintroductions are suggested in the autoimmune protocol community though, it looks like sweet peppers and paprika are introduced in stage three and the rest of them in stage four. 

What to Expect When you Go On a Sugar Detox

 

Locally I teach a class called RESTART®. It is a five week long nutrition program with a three week sugar detox built in to it. I am a sugar addict and have been toying with the idea of giving up sugar for at least the last nine years. I used to work at a fitness center and one of the instructors there didn’t eat any sugar at all except for what was naturally occurring in fruit. None. At. All. I just could not get over how happy she was about it. It was a mystery to me at the time because sugar and sweet treats were my life. I baked almost every week and ate whatever my family didn’t finish. Muffins, cookies, cakes, bars. You name it and I baked it. Except croissants. My neighbor and friend made those and I never got around to making them before I gave up gluten. I always wanted to try to make them though. That and marshmallow’s from scratch. My husband thinks I am crazy but I find it almost meditative to bake. I loved it. Sugar became such a problem for me that I could not make any treats because I would end up eating the whole pan of whatever it was I made. 

So, this idea of giving up sugar sat with me and marinated in my head for nine years. It nagged at me occasionally especially when I started to look at how diet can affect well being. When I started to see a Naturopathic Doctor for my Hashimoto’s, she told me I needed to cut sugar out of my diet. I always said I would try or that I was trying but as Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”. He was right. I did not give up sugar and didn’t even really try to do it until I was put on a specific diet to heal my gut. No sugar allowed. It wasn’t even that hard to do it when I was told specifically to stay away from it. That lasted for 3 weeks and the chiropractor that put me on it said I didn’t have to be on it anymore. That was all I needed to give myself permission to indulge in something sweet. I don’t remember what it was but I know I went off the deep end and ate too much sweet because my psoriasis came back with a vengeance. When that happened I got so mad and frustrated with myself for “screwing up” that I caused a flare. 

Fast forward a year and I became a RESTART® instructor leading a group of people to detox from sugar and learn about nutrition. I questioned how I could walk through a sugar detox if I didn’t give it up too. 

I gave it up with my first class. I went through the whole detox with them and for me, it wasn’t so bad. I had already given up most refined sugar but was getting my fix through potatoes and a lot of fruit. Yes, you read that right. Potatoes. I replaced my need for a sugar high from sweet treats to potatoes and other starches like sweet potatoes and plantains. Sugar is sugar and your body treats all sugar the same really. It converts the sugars in potatoes and fruits in to energy just like it would a piece of candy. Of course there are nutrients in the foods I was eating so it wasn’t all bad but my body still needed a break and RESTART® gave it just the break it was looking for.

It allowed me to regain control of that demon I had been dealing with my whole entire life. 

If you are wondering if the program is right for you, then keep reading.  On the RESTART® program, you will be cutting out all forms of sugar including most fruits. Preparation will be key to your success. You will be prepping all of your meals for the 3 weeks you are cutting out sugar. There is no way to do this while eating processed junk foods or convenience foods with some exceptions that we discuss in class. You will be given a list of what is allowed and what is not allowed on the plan. We will also share ideas of how to plan our meals so we aren’t left in a jam where we are starving and there is nothing to eat. 

A great tip to remain successful is to tell your friends and family about what you are doing so you can have lots of support. Better yet, enlist a friend to do it with you so you can support each other and be accountable to one another. You will also have the support of the other class participants each week as well as my private Facebook group that is just for RESTARTers. 

The RESTART® program is about adding lots of real whole foods to your diet and replacing all the processed foods in your life. We all have our go to’s and we can all give them up for 3 weeks. 

I am an emotional eater. When I am feeling down or stressed I want to sooth myself with a treat. It might even be a coping mechanism for me. This program forced me to take a look at the reasons I turned to certain foods like sweets. The RESTART® program has helped me learn and to develop a new relationship to food and my reasons for turning to sugar. It is an uncomfortable place to be at times but I came out okay on the other side. 

I have regained control of my sugar addiction. 

Treat yourself in ways that don’t involve food. Hikes or walks, relaxing baths, massages or a yoga class. All of these things can make you feel just as good as a pint of ice cream (better in the long run) without the guilt that usually follows. 

When you cut sugar out of your diet, you will likely experience the “sugar flu” or detox symptoms. It usually happens within the first two weeks and lasts for a couple of days. Mood swings, depression, issues with digestion, skin rashes, muscle or joint aches, less energy. This is the result of toxins leaving your body. You will feel so much better in the end. 

You will also find that things that didn’t seem so sweet before will taste sweet enough to you after the three weeks are up. I had a private client recently who I put on this diet and she did not like green apples. She refused to eat them while on the program because they were too sour. I encouraged her at the end to just try one before she had a naturally sweeter apple. She found that the green apple was significantly less sour to her after the three weeks and she actually enjoyed it. Most of us consume things that are extremely sweet and when we give those things up, our taste buds have a chance to reset and we are able to really taste our food. This reset allows our brain to reset too. It won’t crave the crazy sweet stuff like it used to. 

Real whole foods will be enough. 

We all slip up. It’s okay. There is no guilt in RESTART® about slipping up. Just move on. it doesn’t mean you have to start over. Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect. Our motto is “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it thoroughly and then I let it go.”

You will see positive changes. Everyone is different but you may experience weight loss, more energy, improved digestion, clearer skin and a clear mind. You just won’t believe how negatively sugar was impacting your whole body. By the end you will feel so great about how you have impacted your health for the good. All in only five weeks. 

Are you feeling ready to give your health a RESTART®? Classes do run regularly but sign up for my newsletter here to stay on top of when the next class is. You can even host one in your home or we can do one via the web. Contact me for more information. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Are You on a Diet For Your Thyroid?

Diets.

Low fat, low carb, avoid goitrogens, paleo, primal, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slimfast, Whole 30, starvation, blood type. The list really goes on and on and on. What kind of diet have you tried?  

What does the word diet even mean?

The dictionary defines diet as “food and drink that is regularly provided and consumed”. You don’t have to be on a “diet” to have a healthy diet. Diets, in the way that we all know and love to hate, do not work.  Most diets tell you what you cannot eat before they tell you what you can eat. I have never been able to restrict my eating without completely obsessing over what I cannot have. That has always been a struggle for me and I would guess for many of you as well. 

When you hear the words “Paleo Diet” you would tend to think the same thing you have about every other diet out there. It is restrictive and meant for you to lose weight. Isn’t that why people diet? Depending on how you look at things, any diet can be restrictive, even the Paleo Diet. 

The difference between other “diets” and a Paleo diet is that the whole premise of eating Paleo is to feed your body nutrient dense foods. It emphasizes the highest quality of food one can afford. Nose to tail, local when possible. It is a healing diet to many and it can become the food and drink that is regularly provided and consumed.

It doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything else but what eating real food does is show you just how good you really can feel when you cut out all the processed sugary foods that we are so accustomed to having whenever we want.

There are some exclusions in eating a real food diet. The foods that are excluded are more inflammatory and are cut out for specific reasons. You may find that when you cut out grains, legumes, dairy and maybe even nightshades if you have an autoimmune disease that you will feel fantastic. If you choose to keep them out for at least a month, your body had time to heal a bit, calm some inflammation you didn’t even realize was making you feel like crap. Then, if you sneak in some pizza or a donut and you feel like you have been hit by a truck, you will know why. It’s the food. 

Food is medicine and food is poison. It just depends on what kind of food you choose to consume. Your average diet doesn’t make you feel better because you may feel crappy all the way through it and you never get to have that “aha” moment of “this food really makes me feel like crud”. Get in touch with your body. Listen to it when it speaks to you. 

Look. I have been there. It took me a lot of years to listen to my body. I waited until my body was screaming at me to listen to it. Actually, it screamed at me and I didn’t listen. My baby died at 34 weeks gestation because I didn’t listen to my body and my doctor didn’t have a clue. Cut to 4 or so years later and I finally listened when it was yelling at me again.  Dry, crusty, peeling lips that were sore and felt swollen. Itching arms and chest, all the damn time. I had red scabs all over my upper chest (fancy name = decolletage) and my upper arms. I probably had this issue for a year before I got so sick and tired of it that I started to do some digging. A google search led me somewhere, I don’t remember but in my mind I was thinking, I should give up gluten and see if that helps. Well that would mean I couldn’t eat a box of organic wheat thins in one sitting at my desk at work. That meant giving up bread and the love affair I had with it. Something kept eating at me to give it up though. I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried. So, I decided one day to give it up cold turkey and never looked back. Two weeks later, the rash was gone. Something else happened too. My thinking was clearer and my mood was better for a little while. The rash, however, never came back. The itching on my arms though, creeped its way back in to my life when I consumed too many other grains (corn tortilla chips became my vice).  That was a whisper to which I ignored for awhile. You would think I would have learned my lesson. 

Going gluten free led me to learning about Brittany Angell since I was trying to replace all my old favorites with gluten free versions and she had a great website for that. I went a couple of months being gluten free before my naturopathic doctor told me I needed to cut out dairy and a few other foods. This led to me finding the Paleo diet. I don’t even remember now how that happened but I do remember stumbling upon Practical Paleo at Costco and picking it up. It is a great book which is located on my Resources page (and is an affiliate link) if you wish to check it out.  I started tinkering with recipes and feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t eat this or that. My life revolved around food and baking and eating so this whole change was tough for me. It has been five years and I am finally making peace with what is now my way of eating because it is what my body needs to be well.  I have cut out sugar and am slowly transitioning in to an autoimmune protocol which cuts out nuts, seeds, nightshades and eggs. 

So here you have it. Eating Paleo is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. It was never meant to be a short term fix for anything and even long term this way of eating isn’t a panacea but it sure can make a world of difference in your life, especially if you are consuming the Standard American Diet of processed and fast foods.

I was at the store today getting some things for Thanksgiving and came across a whole section of the store for your Thanksgiving table. Stove Top stuffing was there. I used to love that stuff. We ate it regularly when my kids were little and everyone gobbled it up. I read the ingredients. It has MSG listed on the label two different times with two different names. They call MSG a flavor enhancer because it makes crappy lifeless food taste better. Stay away from the boxes of “food”. Real food doesn’t usually come in a package. 

How can you make a lifestyle like this work for you?

If it works for you, you can create a food journal (at least for awhile). It is your best tool to help you figure out how something has made you feel and what it might do to your digestion. Write down each meal, snack and drink each day for a month. Write how each of those meals made you feel and what your digestion and eliminations look like. You will be able to make a correlation to which foods upset your system and which foods work for you. Another reason it is good to make a food journal is you will be able to tell immediately if you are eating enough and what you might be eating too little or too much of.  This is not for everyone (me included) but I can attest to how useful it is for me when working with clients to help them figure out what changes need to be made and what they are doing right. 

Drop the D word from your vocabulary. No more dieting. Just eat real food. 

Now, if you have Hashimoto’s like I do the Autoimmune Protocol is probably something you should look at. It took me a long time to admit that this is where I needed to be. I didn’t want to give up potatoes, peppers and especially tomatoes. I love all of those things. Sometimes though, those things you love and crave are because when you eat them, your body releases dopamine as a protective mechanism against the harm those foods are causing you. That really sucks, doesn’t it?!  I woke up with an aching hip one day in August of this year and I knew I had to seriously consider doing AIP. Still it was two more months before I bit the bullet and went for it. At the same time I went AIP, I went sugar free too. I have slipped up and consumed a pepper or a tomato here and there and honestly, have paid for it with my digestion being screwed up and the ache in my hip creeping back in. I also relied too heavily on nuts over the last year and now have a mouth reaction (swelling, burning sensation) and the feeling like influenza is about to hit when I consume any nuts. This happens when you have autoimmune disease and leaky gut. You can almost assuredly create new food sensitivities for yourself by consuming too much of one thing for too long. So, it was AIP or bust. I feel pretty good both physically and emotionally after cutting out even more and I can even look at my way of eating and really be thankful for what I can have. 

Don’t diet for your thyroid. Don’t diet to lose weight (especially if you have thyroid problems). Don’t diet to get healthy. 

Just eat real food. And love yourself no matter what. 

In health, 

Stephanie

The Importance of Sleep in Chronic Illness

I have been having lots of trouble sleeping over the last couple of months due to a change in my thyroid medication. It has been so frustrating for me but also for my entire family. You know the old saying, “If Mom isn’t happy, then no one is happy”. That could not have been more true for me over the last couple of months. One can only go so long without sleep. I was averaging two nights a week of only about 4 hours of sleep a night. Not enough for anyone to function properly on, that’s for sure! I become irrational and downright awful to be around when I don’t get enough sleep and it takes me a couple days to recover from a night like that. Once I am starting to recover it would happen all over again. It has been a never ending cycle of misery for everyone. 

I have slept well the last week or so and really feel like a totally different person. I attribute this feeling to a few things. First, I was sleeping through the night, duh. Second, I started the Autoimmune Protocol about 6 weeks ago and last, I went on a sugar detox with my RESTART class so I have not had any sugar for the last two weeks (only a green banana, half a grapefruit or a green apple for fruit each day). So I have been sleeping really good for the last week. I am so grateful. 

Since I was having issues with my sleep and I know lots of people with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s also have problems sleeping I thought I would dive in to the subject for you. 

Most people are not sleeping enough. That includes everyone, not just those of us with thyroid problems. The average amount a person sleeps per night has gone down around 2 hours from 50 years ago. 

Adequate sleep is imperative to avoid chronic illness. It is more important than your diet, exercise and stress. Sleep also helps you heal when you are sick. There are studies to show the role sleep plays in healing from breast cancer- you need to sleep when fighting such an illness. 

While you are sleeping, your body, including your brain, is detoxifying. While you sleep, your brain cells get smaller to increase the space between them so the toxins can easily be flushed in to the blood and filtered through the liver and kidneys. If you are not sleeping long enough or deep enough this waste can build up effecting your brain health and function. 

You might remember from science class the five stages of sleep that go in a cycle. We start at stage one when we first fall asleep and also when you can wake up really easily. You then move on the stage two which is a deeper sleep where your brainwaves slow down. Next you fall in to deep sleep with slower brain waves. Stage four is similar to stage three but has only slow brain waves. Stages three and four are the hardest to wake someone up in. Lastly, you have REM sleep and your brain waves get faster, almost as if you were awake. This is when you are dreaming. This cycle continues through the night. 

How do you ensure a good nights sleep?

Listen to your body. Your brain has a clock (circadian clock) which controls hormones in your body that tell you it’s time for you to go to bed. Those electronics and tv shows you have on while its dark out mess with those hormones that tell you it’s time to go to bed. It is time to get in tune to your body. 

How much sleep do you need if you have an autoimmune disease?

Probably more than you think. The average adult needs seven to nine hours per night. If you have an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s you may need nine or ten. I have been getting seven to eight hours and feeling pretty good although, too many days of that I am dragging. I have always needed at least 8 hours of sleep. With chronic illness, it is probably more like nine or ten. I don’t make for a good late night date. That’s for sure. 

How do you know if you are not getting enough sleep?

  • you need to set an alarm to get up in the morning
  • you may have to force yourself to get up after the alarm goes off
  • you sleep in on the weekends or when you get a chance
  • you get less than 7 hours of sleep a couple times per week.

If you are getting a half hour less each night than your body needs, it can affect your weight and your metabolism. 

Not getting enough sleep affects your cravings, insulin resistance, mood and your overall health.  It affects your ability to think clearly, remember things, make good decisions or any decisions, and eat more among other things. 

The biggest issue for Hashimoto’s sufferers is how lack of sleep screws up your immune system and can make things worse. That could mean your antibodies remain high or get higher rather than reducing when your diet and lifestyle are otherwise perfect. That is how important it is that you get to sleep. 

Your body also cannot repair itself like it needs to when you are not getting enough sleep. Tissue repair happens during sleep and your regulatory T cells (cells that help regulate your immune system and fight off autoimmune disease) can work on keeping you healthy. If you are not getting enough sleep, you don’t have enough of these cells to keep autoimmune disease in check. 

If you have an autoimmune disease, you need to make sleep a priority. 

  • Sleep in a dark, cool room (65 degrees is ideal)
  • Use a white noise machine
  • Get a alarm clock that wakes you with light
  • Try sleeping on your back with your head and knees supported
  • Wear blue blocking glasses when the sun goes down 
  • Re-evaluate how much time you spend on social media at night
  • Do something relaxing before bed rather than watch tv such as talking to someone at home, read a book, take a bath
  • Develop a nighttime routine made for rest and relaxation
  • Go to bed early and wake up early. This is ideal. 
  • If you are doing everything right and you still can’t sleep, you may want to re evaluate what you are doing.  

Take a look at your diet. Are you eating enough? Having low blood sugar in the middle of the night will play a role in your waking up and not being able to fall back asleep. 

How is the stress in your life? If you are like me, you are stressed out because you are not sleeping enough! Stress also screws with your immune system so it is imperative to manage it which is a whole other blog post. 

  • Are you exercising at all?  It will help you sleep better. Get out and go for a walk at the very least. 
  • Meditate. Listen to Episode 9 of my Real World Paleo Podcast to learn about how to meditate. 
  • Cut the caffeine out for a few weeks to see if that helps
  • Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein, fat and whole food carbohydrates by eating real whole foods and cut out the processed foods. 

I hope you are all sleeping well. Working with me, we can discover what you need to do to get the best nights sleep you can. Fill out the contact form on my website and I will contact you within a day or two about what we can do together. 

Sleep well. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Thyroid Disease Has a Face and It Is Someone You Know

There is a face of Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism. That face is your neighbor. That face is your co worker. That face is your boss. That face is the person checking you out at the store. 

It is estimated that 12% of Americans have or will have a thyroid problem in their lifetime. Around 20 million Americans have either hypo or hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s or Graves disease. It is estimated that 60% of those people don’t even know they have it but I bet they probably feel like crap. 

Women are more likely to have a thyroid condition compared to men. 

There are something like 300 different symptoms of thyroid disease. 

There are receptors in every cell of your body for thyroid hormones. The thyroid runs your metabolism. It is the breaks in your car. When you need to slow down, your thyroid puts the breaks on everything. And then you start to feel it. 

I had just had a baby when my thyroid quit on me. I had a toddler and and infant and I would wake up after 8 hours of sleep and feel like I had not slept at all. I was so tired all the time. Then it became an effort to me to take care of my kids but and I still didn’t go to the doctor. I remember feeling like it was so much effort to write a check out to pay a bill. I had trouble holding the pen in my hand and using enough pressure to make it work to write. I remember how much effort it was to speak. It felt like my tongue was heavy. Finally I went to the doctor for something else and he asked if there was anything else he needed and I just mentioned how tired I was but had attributed that to having a toddler and an infant. Who wouldn’t be tired, right!?  He decided to test my thyroid with a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test and sent me on my way.  Turns out my TSH was around 150 when he considered normal to be around 5 so he put me on levothyroxine and tested my TSH for the next few months until he found a dose that brought my TSH to an acceptable level for him.  

I thought I was going to be alright.  Truthfully, I have not really felt like myself since that original diagnosis but I quit looking to feel like that old person and have embraced the challenges I have faced since being diagnosed. I went 8 years before I realized my diet played a huge role in how good I would and could feel. I also went 8 or so years before being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Most people who are hypothyroid actually have Hashimoto’s but are not diagnosed because the standard of care does not change. You get your TSH tested. It continually rises and your medication has to be adjusted. That is it. 

When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s I was actually a bit relieved because I felt like I had some control about what I could do to feel better.  I went from feeling great most of the time to feeling bad most of the time. It is so frustrating to feel bad all the time. To have blood sugar regulation problems and have your adrenals not working properly so that you are exhausted after doing some laundry is really frustrating. Especially when you don’t know how to fix it. Getting that diagnosis put my health back in to my own hands and I was able to fix a lot. I changed my diet. I went gluten free first. Then I had some food sensitivity testing done and went dairy free (something I suspected I needed to do based on how terrible I felt after eating ice cream) and had to cut out some other foods as well. That was a first big step and a pretty big adjustment but I wanted so badly to feel better that it was something I was willing to do. 

I also needed to get my blood sugar under control. I was a sugar lover. I needed sugar and refined carbs to get me through the day. At least that is what I told myself. Cutting out sugar was one of the best things I ever did. Managing my sugar intake also meant that my adrenals would be in better shape and so would my hormones. 

I was eventually led to a more nutrient dense whole foods diet and am now experimenting with an Autoimmune protocol which eliminates nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants), eggs, nuts, and grains (I might be forgetting something). I decided to go AIP because I still didn’t feel good despite doing everything right. I think there may be some heavy metal toxicity as my root cause but have not had any testing done to find out for sure. As it goes with Hashimoto’s, there is an immune system dysfunction and something to have caused that dysfunction to occur.  

Not really feeling well after five years of diet and lifestyle changes led me to realize that I needed to fix the root cause and I also needed to find a doctor that would treat my symptoms as well as my lab work. I found a happy medium with a holistic MD that takes insurance so she does not have access to some of the tests that might find my root cause but for now I am okay with that. She was willing to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid medication because they synthetic levothyroxine was not working. 

My dose was recently increased and it made me feel worse. The biggest affect from the medication change for me was that I was not sleeping. I would be jolted awake 2-3 nights a week at around 3 am and never would fall back asleep. I asked my doctor to change my meds back and she wanted to wait. I had gotten just enough meds to get me through until I needed more blood work so I asked them for a bit more to get me through to the next draw. I knew in my gut that the medication was causing me to wake up but felt a little helpless to do anything about it because even my holistic doctor wouldn’t change it for me just yet. She had me taking half a dose (cutting a pill in half) in the morning and half a dose in the early afternoon. Turns out that is not a good idea either because there is no real way to make sure each half of the pill has the same amount of thyroid hormone in it. That first half dose could have little to no thyroid hormone in it while the second half had most of the thyroid hormone in it. There is just no way to know. So, the only way I was able to sleep would be to take only half a pill or no pill at all and neither of those choices were a good idea long term. 

The clinic called in a prescription for me to get me through until my next blood draw and when I went to pick it up I asked to see the ingredient list for the meds. The pharmacy couldn’t find it and I asked to see the bottle so I could take a photo of it. When they showed me the bottle I told them that is not the medication I was taking previously. They told me that they had run out of that and had this one in stock and so they filled my prescription with that. I knew that pharmacies could and did do this but it never occurred to me that it would happen to me. First I was glad because the medication they switched me to was the medication I had wanted my doctor to let me try. Then I got a little angry. I thought to myself, If I am this sensitive to a medication change, I wonder how many other thyroid patients are also. I told the pharmacy they should not switch up thyroid meds like that on people because many of us are extremely sensitive to changes like that and we might not know what is causing the problem. Some people do well on a specific medication and it should never be changed on them. 

If you are doing well on your medication, make sure you get the same medication EVERY time you go get your prescription. You can have your doctor make a note in the prescription they write for you to the pharmacy so that a change like that doesn’t happen to you. This particular medication that I didn’t ask for happened to be a good thing but that is not always the case. I am happy to report that I have slept really well since the change in medication even with a full dose. 

If you take anything away from this story, know that you can have some control over how hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s will affect you and your body. You don’t have to feel terrible. You don’t have to be tired. You don’t have to give up and you don’t have to be a victim to this disease. 

You can be happy. You can have energy. You can feel good again! 

Tell me in the comments how thyroid disease has made you feel and if or what you have done to feel better. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

What Are The Best Fats To Cook With?

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation I over heard in the grocery store. Two people were talking about which fats were the best to use for cooking. I was shocked, to hear what they were saying. I am so immersed in this world of health and wellness that I am still surprised when I hear people saying that their “vegetable”  (shh…it’s not really made from vegetables) oil is the best.  I know someone with Chron’s who no longer has their colon who buys this stuff by the gallons to fry fish with. Honestly, it makes me sad and even a little mad that people have been duped by the industry which produces this stuff for so many years. 

It has been about 60 or so years that we have been told that low fat diets are the way to go and that using these so called healthy oils in your cooking, baking and salad dressings is the best thing for you. Eating low fat keeps you from being healthier due to deficiency of fatty acids. Low fat diets have really been promoted since the 50’s. Low fat, high carbohydrate (unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and grains) diets lead to things like mood disorders like depression, deficiencies in minerals, weight problems and fatigue. Studies done on low fat diets fail to show their benefits on your long term health. This is because you need fat from your diet for the health and well being of each and every cell in your body. Your body needs fat!

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

What the industry is not telling you is that the canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil among others are denatured, refined and really, really bad for your health. The way these fats are processed makes it so that our bodies cannot process them keeping your health and vitality from you. They sell you on their talk that dietary fat is going to kill you. That saturated fat will clog your arteries. What they don’t tell you is the obesity rates in this country started to rise when the “vegetable” oils were heavily promoted as healthy. 

Did you know that everyday your body makes cholesterol? When you eat cholesterol rich foods, your body doesn’t have to make as much on its own. How cool is that? My husband recently went to the doctor and the doctor had an app on his phone that allowed him to plug in some basic information to decide whether or not he should put my husband on a statin to keep his cholesterol low. There was nothing wrong with my husbands cholesterol. He makes some lifestyle choices that put him more at risk for heart attack than others but his cholesterol was fine. He declined the cholesterol lowering statin. 

I have talked a bit about fat on here before but will recap the benefits of fat for your health: 

  •     Fats keep you full and satisfied longer 
  •     Fats help your hormones work properly
  •     Fats help you absorb nutrients from your veggies (put some grass fed    butter on them)
  •     Fats keep your bile healthy so you can digest and breakdown fats 
  •     Fats keep your cells healthy
  •     Fats help your body produce anti inflammatory chemicals

There are several classifications for fats.

Saturated fat is very stable naturally and will not rancidify easily. It is solid at room temperature. Fats from animals are typically saturated as are coconut and palm oils. 

Monounsaturated fat is pretty stable and won’t rancidify easily. Olive oil is a good example of monounsaturated fat. Lard actually has more monounsaturated fat in it than saturated fat yet is classified as a saturated fat. 

Polyunsaturated fats in unstable always, is damaged by heat very easily, will turn rancid fast and needs refrigeration. This is where your Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids come from. Fish oil and flax seed oil are examples of polyunsaturated fat. Most seed oils are in this category as well. 

What most people maybe don’t know is that all fats are a combination of all three of these kinds of fats. They are classified by which category of fat is most prominent. 

The best, most stable and healthful fat for cooking at high temperatures is most animal fats and oils like coconut and palm oil.  These types of oils when from healthy animals and clean sources keep your veins and vessels healthy, they keep your immune system healthy, protect your liver from toxins, help your body absorb calcium in keep your cells working properly. 

The fats to avoid in cooking at all are those from seeds and nuts. They are very sensitive to heat and should only be consumed raw. They also should be consumed in small amounts (around one teaspoon is enough for most people). You also want to avoid the highly processed oils (the “vegetable” oils) like corn, soybean, cottonseed (we don’t eat cotton, why would we eat the oil?) and canola (which is a seed oil). The oils are extracted through a process of crushing them and heating them to temperatures around 230 degrees damaging their fatty acid molecules. They are then put under pressure to squeeze the oil out which generates even more heat. Then they are chemically processed with petroleum based solvent to get the very last bits of oil out. The solvent is boiled off but some remains in the oil (yum). Also, the pesticides used on the crops before harvest are concentrated in the oil due to the use of the solvent so you are getting a good dose of chemicals in your rancid oil. 

Avoiding hydrogenated oils like margarine and shortening is also a good idea. Hydrogenated oils are made from polyunsaturated fats (the really unstable ones that should never be heated). They are further processd after extraction by adding nickel oxide and then exposed to hydrogen gas at high temperatures and high pressure. The chemical structure of the fat is then changed from polyunsaturated to saturated or Trans Fats. Fillers and Thickeners are added and odors are removed through steam (more heat=even more damage) and finally bleached because it is a gray color (appetizing). 

How to know if the oil you are buying is damaged (processed with chemicals)

If the label reads: Refined, Hydrogenated, Partially-Hydrogenated or cold-processed AVOID it. 

If the label reads: Organic, First-cold pressed or Cold Pressed, Expeller-Pressed, Unrefined, Extra Virgin BUY it. 

The safest oils for cooking, frying, baking, broiling, grilling and roasting

  • Lard
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Tallow from beef or lamb
  • Chicken, Goose and Duck Fat
  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Red Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil

Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil can be refined and processed just like polyunsaturated fats so make sure to read the labels. You can order high quality fats online or buy them from your local food co op. 

Safe fats for stir frying, light sautéing, and slow and low cooking

  • Olive oil (unfiltered- should turn somewhat solid to solid when refrigerated)
  • Avocado oil- similar to olive oil, made from the meat, not the pit
  • Peanut oil (not a good choice for frying in fryers) using occasionally 
  • Sesame oil- use to sauté occasionally
  • Macadamia nut oil (80% monounsaturated fat), store in fridge. 

Make sure they are processed in the best way possible (expeller pressed is best). Read your labels.  You can actually cook up to a temperature of 400 degrees with olive oil. 

Do not use for cooking

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

  • Flax oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

Omega-3 rich oils like flaxseed oil can be used in small amounts for a portion of a salad dressing or added to a smoothie. They should be eating in moderation from good sources.

Do not use

  • Vegetable oils
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil

These are highly processed, usually genetically modified and have high levels of pesticides in them. Canola is high in Omega-3 fatty acids but are damaged to the point of no return during processing. Your body doesn’t know what to do with this oil when you consume it.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified crops out there. It is not a food and should not be consumed. 

Butter must not be forgotten. It is best to consume butter from grass fed sources and raw when you can (not feasible for many people). Butter has a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and your fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K needed to help you absorb and use the nutrients in your food. It also helps with the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory processes in your body. 

Enjoy cooking with your fats and remember that consuming fat does not make you fat. Did you know I do Pantry Makeovers? I can help you figure out what foods you may need to get rid of on your journey to health. Send me a note and we can have a free 15 minute strategy session!

In health,

Stephanie

What is Nutrition Part Three- Fat

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I was never much of a dieter. I did a low fat diet once or twice in my life but that was it. I tried to lose a few pounds to fit in to a bridesmaid dress so I ate an extremely low fat diet and exercised.  I found myself becoming obsessed with what I ate so that whole diet lasted about a week before I decided that was not a path I wanted to go down. I love food and I hate exercise. Cutting fat out of my diet and counting calories meant I was eating a lot of carbohydrates and hungry all the time. I was miserable.  It took me many years after that wedding to figure out how to eat so my body was satisfied. 

I fell for the “saturated fat is bad for you” talk and “eat rice cakes with jelly on them” if you want a snack. Oh boy. My body was not happy for many years.  Eating like that made me HANGRY (hungry + angry) a lot. I would get to the point where I couldn’t even think straight. One time while camping with friends I got so Hangry I threw our lawn chairs across our campsite. I have yet to live that one down and it was more than 20 years ago.  I got shaky and light headed and couldn’t think straight. All because I didn’t eat enough fat and my body didn’t know how to burn it properly. I was a carbaholic for years. It has only been in the last year that I have really been able to use fat for energy. I went really low carb and high fat and that wasn’t good for me either. I ended up with low blood sugar because I wasn’t eating enough and I wasn’t eating enough good carbs. A whole bag of potoato chips at one time is NOT a good source of carbs- I might as well have eaten a candy bar. So I have significantly upped my consumption of veggies while still eating protein and fat. I eat a lot of fat. At least 1 avocado a day and my food is cooked in bacon fat, lard, tallow or coconut oil. I have at least a tablespoon of olive oil on my salad every day too. With all this fat, based on what we are told in the mainstream, you would think my cholesterol is outrageously high. It is 199 overall. Not too bad. 

There has been much talk lately about fat in the modern diet. For years we have been told to consume a low fat diet and that fat is bad for you- saturated fat in particular. While some folks are coming around, it has been known for years in the scientific community that the right kinds of fat are good for you for A LOT of reasons. Remember that article from June 2014 in Time Magazine? Butter was on the cover!  Yes. Butter is not only good but it is actually good for you. It will not clog your arteries AND it will make your food taste really good. In fact, you actually need some fat on your veggies in order to assimilate the nutrients in those veggies when you digest them. 

Our body is composed of about 15% fat. You need fat for so many reasons including optimal health.

Why is fat so good for us?

  • It is a long burning source of energy like a log on a fire
  • Your cells and hormones need fat to work properly
  • You can’t use your protein properly with out fat
  • Eating fat helps to manage your blood sugar
  • It helps your body manage inflammation throughout the body

There are three classifications for fat:  saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated

  • SATURATED: stable fats, solid at room temp, found in animals and tropical oils, best for cooking with especially at higher temperature
  • MONOUNSATURATED: somewhat stable, liquid at room temp, found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts like almonds, peanuts, pecans and cashews
  • POLYUNSATURATED: unstable, rancidify easily, essential to the body (meaning we must get it                    from our diet), never should be heated or cooked with, found in flax, nuts, fish and seeds

ALL FATS AND OILS ARE A COMBINATION OF THESE THREE KINDS OF FAT. Whichever of the three fats is highest in concentration determines the label put on the fat. 

How much fat do you need in a day?

It depends on the person but a general guideline is around 30% of your calories should be from high quality fats.  

What kind of fat should I eat?

Fish oil, sesame oil, palm oil, coconut oil, butter, lard/tallow/duck fat from pastured animals, olive oil and avocados. 

What kind of fat should I avoid?

Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, “vegetable” oils such as canola (see a video here on how it is made but ignore the voice telling you how healthy it is because it is not healthy for you.), corn and soybean oil.   Your body doesn’t actually recognize these as food. They are toxic and keep the good fats from being able to do their job. 

The kind and amount of fat you consume is important to help your body manage inflammation as I said before. We also need it to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keep our liver and gallbladder functioning well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you must supplement your diet with bile salts in order to digest fats and assimilate them. You may not be able to handle large amounts of fat in your diet either. 

What should I look for when buying fats/oils?

  • cold pressed/expeller pressed (NOT cold processed- that’s a trick)
  • unrefined
  • organic
  • extra virgin

Remember, fat does not make you fat. You can actually lose weight consuming a fairly high amount of healthy fats in your day to day diet as long as you do it the right way. For more information on how to do that, contact me for a free consultation. 

Here is a link to a recipe for a good fat snack from my friends and T + W. Enjoy.