I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve had it for, but I’m pretty sure it was at some point in my teens when it first set in. I’ve been managing my symptoms and helping others to do so using my immunology background and nutrition training.
Recently though, I’ve been marvelling at how well I felt while I was away on holiday in Costa Rica.
I’ve been feeling well overall for a long time now, but usually it is something that I have to constantly manage. If I slip up with my diet or get too little sleep, then I really pay the price – there isn’t much of a buffer.
But apparently this is not the case in the tropics! I was able to manage jet lag (with two jet lagged children) and big dietary changes (from very high veg and low carb to high carb and low veg…) with no problem at all. I was even waking up refreshed after a very little sleep!
So what was going on? I’ve always loved the tropics and I am convinced it’s the temperature, humidity and the sunshine that help my body work better. Even though I didn’t sun bathe – I was either in the shade with the kids, in my rash vest attempting to surf or walking around with suncream and a hat – I got a light tan and felt the difference.
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Getting that extra bit of sunshine (carefully of course) definitely helps me. I also acknowledge that getting away from it all and being on holiday undoubtably makes things better!
So what does this mean for those of us in temperate regions? Interestingly autoimmune conditions are more prevalent in temperate zones. I’d suggest getting out in that sunshine, or even daylight, as much as possible and in a safe way and keeping warm by layering up, especially when it’s breezy!
Have you been on holiday this summer? How did you feel?
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A lot of my clients come to me well aware that they need to cut gluten out of their diets. For some it is because they know their body reacts badly to it – they can feel it with bloating and cramps (read gluten intolerance symptoms HERE). Some may have been given a diagnosis of Celiac’s disease (an autoimmune where gluten triggers the body to attack the gut), other autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or have irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowl disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s.
Going Gluten Free isn’t a cure-all and it isn’t going to help everyone, but for many people in the above groups, it is definitely worth a try to see if symptoms diminish.
However, the number 1 reason people tell me that they can’t go gluten free is because of eating out. Many of my clients are “90%” gluten free – but that doesn’t work (read HERE for reasons why).
I am gluten-free because gluten causes my thyroid disease to flare-up. My husband and son are also gluten free, and therefore, by default, so is my daughter. I’m also dairy, egg and soy-free (as these also caused adverse reactions, common for those with Hashimoto’s).
So, eating out can turn into a whole lot of aggravation and not a lot of pleasure. This is particularly the case with gluten-free kids. They want to have a good time and I don’t want to deprive them, but most kids menus have ZERO vegetables, or if they do it’s a token portion of grey peas with fish and chips. Everything on a kids menu comes with chips (which OK are technically gluten free…), and/or in batter or in a bun. I have to admit, this does annoy me – what example are we setting our kids about healthy eating? Anyway, that’s not what this post is about…
I have noticed recently that more restaurants are onboard with gluten free eating. I think this is probably because of a change in legislation surrounding food allergies.
My biggest gripes about eating out with intolerances/allergies are:
The lack on information on menus – if the chicken comes with a cream sauce, write it on the menu! If the kids sorbet comes on a bed of biscuit crumbs (even when you have told the staff he is gluten-free), write it on the menu!
Being handed a ring-binder folder of spreadsheets documenting all possible allergens that may be in the kitchen, which doesn’t correspond to the meals on the menu, is not helpful. I didn’t come out to study.
It’s true, while others are getting drinks and catching-up with old friends, I am usually scanning the various menus and spreadsheets for something to feed my family. Do I get irritated every now and then when something turns up coated in breadcrumbs or slathered in butter, when I have spent half of my evening discussing gluten-containing ingredients with staff? Well yes. And for that I am sorry.
But, is being gluten free worth this hassle? YES, absolutely.
So, my Top Tips for eating out Gluten-Free:
Announce your intolerances when you book the table or at least upon arrival. I still don’t enjoy doing this. Sometimes I just want to be “normal” and to not have the wait staff surreptitiously pointing at me and talking. BUT, it can save you a lot of hassle at the restaurant. Some places like you to choose your meal ahead of time. This slightly takes the spontaneity out of the event, but could save you from being ill – it’s a trade off (as ever).
Be prepared to be flexible. There may be one dish on the menu that they can adapt for you. It probably won’t be your first or even second choice, but try to go with it.
Be aware of menu misinformation. Thinking I can get away with not announcing my intolerances has got me into gluten-trouble many times. I have fallen into the trap of ordering what reads on the menu as a simple chicken and vegetables or nut roast with seasonal veg. This usually comes with some hidden allergen, like breadcrumbs in the nut roast or vegetables cooked in butter – see point 1, it’s best to announce your intolerances.
Know your allergens/gluten-containing foods. Even though wait staff and chefs are now supposed to be trained in this, do not rely on them. On many an occasion I have been offered a “gluten-free” meal, which contains barely or rye or even breadcrumbs! Sausages, unless specifically stated, will contain gluten. Crisps/chips with flavouring usually contain gluten. Most sauces and gravies also contain gluten, though some are thickened with cornflour. If you are in any doubt then avoid it.
You can usually get an extra side of vegetables – ask! I have noticed that once over the shock and fear of having to deal with someone with an intolerance/allergy, restaurant staff are keen to make a good impression (especially if they have handed you a folder and asked you to piece together your own meal). I often ask if I can swap things, such as a a side of garlic bread for an extra portion of vegetables. This is also often the case if they have to take something gluten-containing out of the main meal.
As a last resort, if you are very worried that there won’t be anything you can have, then eat a small meal before you go out. Then order a starter or salad.
It can be hard, and challenging and frustrating, but sticking to your gluten-free diet when eating out is really important for your health. If in doubt, don’t have it.
Sleep has always been an important part of my life, and I’ve been able to sleep in some pretty spectacular situations – from a sun-warmed stone on a mountain top to the bouncing bow of a boat in the cold, driving rain. In hindsight, my ability – or need- to nod off was probably a symptom of my thyroid disease.
Recently I have met a lot of people with hypothyroidism, or suspect they have it despite their blood work being normal. Many of these people have a long list of symptoms that they have never associated with their thyroid condition and have lived with them for years. They are are used to feeling less than optimal and easily put these, often non-specific, symptoms down to age or lack of sleep.
But what if you could feel better? What if you could get rid of those aches and pains? Today I want to give you a more comprehensive list (but by no means exhaustive) of the symptoms you may experience with hypothyroidism – there may be more than you may realise.
Chronic symptoms of hypothyroidism can be reduced or eliminated through changes in eating habits and lifestyle.
I’m walking proof of this. I have gone from being bedridden, aching all over and barely able to move to, on the whole, being fully functional! I still get the odd flare-up, but there is usually a clear cause, such as over working, catching a horrible bug or letting my sugar consumption creep up. When this happens I know I have to go back to basics and “Reboot“, to get back on track. And it works.
If you have hypothyroidism, particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and suffer from chronic symptoms it’s important you know that they are an indication that your body is not functioning at it’s best. You have those symptoms for a reason.
Masking symptoms with pain killers and supplements without addressing the cause can compromise your long-term health.
If you have these symptoms please know that you can feel better. It may take time. It may take effort, but it is possible! With no help or guidance from medical doctors as to how to manage my diagnoses (first CFS and then Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), just a prescription for Thyroxine, for a long time I thought I was going to be virtually house-bound for the rest of my life. Thank goodness I took control of my health and made the necessary changes to feel better.
I read and researched. I used my background in Immunology to understand the science behind my disease, then I listened to my body and used my knowledge of nutrition to heal and get as healthy as possible.
Here is a list of some of the symptoms you may have, even if you’re taking thyroxine. How many of these do you have?
Insomnia (yes, even with hypothyroidism)
Muscle and joint stiffness
Pins and needles
Puffy, itchy, scratchy eyes
Puffy hands and feet
Cold extremities/ low basal body temperature
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Eczema/ dry skin
Inability to cope with stress
I had more than 75% of these symptoms and I was misdiagnosed for 5 years. Now I live largely symptom free!
Get in touch to hear how we can work together to improve your health and get rid of your symptoms.
If you have some of these symptoms and haven’t got a hypothyroidism diagnosis, then it’s advisable to talk to your doctor. These symptoms don’t mean you DO have hypothyroidism and are not meant for diagnostic purposes. If you are at all concerned about your health, then make an appointment to see your doctor.
I am happy to help you make positive dietary and lifestyle changes alongside your medical doctor.
Take control of your health and feel better!
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