For those of you who have been following along on my journey through my blog or instagram, you’re probably aware of my recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease & hypothyroidism.
Today on the blog, I wanted to get super personal & share with you the story of my diagnosis, lifestyle/diet changes, and how I was able to get to the root cause of the problem so I can begin my healing journey. It’s my hope that perhaps my story can inspire someone else who may be struggling to take back their health. Kick back, relax & enjoy!
THE SYMPTOMS – SOMETHING FELT “OFF”
I first began to notice something wasn’t quite right during the early fall of 2016. My energy levels completely plummeted, to the point where I would sleep 10 hours and still be tired upon waking & throughout the day. I was also super bloated, my face was puffy, and my clothes started to fit differently.
When I hopped on the scale for the first time in months, I was surprised to see I had gained about 8 pounds (and then another 4 shortly thereafter) with no changes in my diet. This was a huge red flag for me, as ever since I quit dieting & discovered joy around food, my weight has stayed roughly the same the past 6 years, give our take a pound or two. This was super out of the norm for me!
Within another 2 months, I had gained an additional 4 pounds, and that’s when I decided to dig in to see what was going on. As someone who is super in touch with my body, I knew something was off.
LAB TESTING + THE THYROID CONNECTION
I had a sneaky feeling it was my thyroid, as my mom struggled with thyroid issues in the past, and my levels had been off before (but always in the “normal” range).
Since I was between doctors (I had just moved to the suburbs from Boston), I decided to take matters into my own hands & order my own lab tests through WellnessFX, a web-based platform designed to produce deep insights into the state of your health all through a blood test. I’ve had a great experience with WellnessFX in the past, so I knew I’d be in good hands. (You can read all about my first experience here.)
Also, many traditional doctors only test TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels, and I wanted a more comprehensive look at what was going on with my thyroid. So I ordered WellnessFX’s Advanced Thyroid package, which measures TSH, T4, T3, T3 uptake, free thyroxine Index, reverse T3, and free T3.
Shortly after, I also ordered a Thyroid Antibodies Panel through Direct Labs to test for Hashimoto’s Disease, since a large percentage of people who are hypothyroid have Hashimoto’s (an auto-immune disease where your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid).
And then I waited (impatiently) for my results.
THE RESULTS ARE IN
I received my results for my thyroid panel first, and as expected my levels were off, especially my TSH which was flagged as it had risen to a 4.5 (normal range .4-4.5). While I was technically “normal,” I felt anything but, and was considered “borderline hypothyroid.” I also learned that most women feel their best below a 2, so 4.5 wasn’t cutting it for me.
I’m really glad I decided to test my Thyroid Antibodies, as sure enough I had antibodies present, indicating Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies were at a 19, which is considered high (normal range is <9).
While my results weren’t ideal, I was relieved to finally have some answers so I could move forward with a game-plan & start to feel better! The thyroid is connected to almost every body function — from metabolism to reproductive health — so when something’s not right, it really takes a toll on your body.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of mixed information out there when it comes to the thyroid, and many traditional doctors are still set in their old ways. Many times, they will pass you off as “normal” until your thyroid gets to the point where medication is required.
I was not looking to go down that route.
As expected, my PCP told me my levels were “normal” and not to worry, which was super concerning to me especially since I told her I wanted to start a family soon. Right on my lab results, it says in clear writing that normal TSH ranges for pregnancy are .26-2.66 for the first trimester. Clearly, I was way above optimal range!
She also told me I wasn’t a candidate for medication at this time, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and make some dietary & lifestyle changes. After all, what did I have to lose? Being a Holistic Health Coach, I believe in getting to the root cause of the issues & taking a holistic approach when possible, anyway.
At this time, I also did a ton of research, following reports from doctors, pharmacists, naturopaths, functional medicine practitioners, and fellow bloggers who have dealt with similar issues. Some of my favorite resources have been Dr. Izabella Wentz, Dr. Axe, The Thyroid Sessions, Autoimmune Paleo, Ayce to Better Health, Phoenix Helix, The Paleo Mom, and Unbound Wellness.
THE GAME PLAN – TAKING BACK MY MEALTH
It was now time to make a game plan & start to take back my health! The first thing I decided to do was go 100% gluten free, as gluten has been linked with thyroid issues, especially those with Hashimoto’s. At this time, I also loaded up my diet with cooked vegetables, fruit like wild blueberries, coconut oil, bone broth, brazil nuts (for selenium), and probiotic rich-foods like sauerkraut and kombucha, all of which are known to support thyroid function.
When I cut out gluten 100%, I noticed a burst in my energy rather quickly, but I was still struggling with my weight, bloat and overall feeling of being in a “funk.” Around this time, I received my results for my Thyroid Antibodies test, which confirmed I had an autoimmune condition. That’s when I decided to take it up a notch by going on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP), which I started on January 1st.
You can read all about the protocol here, but essentially it’s a stricter form of Paleo, in which you remove common allergens & inflammation-causing foods from your diet for a minimum of 30 days, and then slowly re-introduce to see what foods are causing issues for you. At this time, I also started taking liquid Vitamin D3 daily.
Here’s a sample day of eating:
- Breakfast = smoothie with coconut milk, coconut oil, banana, spinach, wild blueberries & cinnamon/ leftovers from dinner, tea, water
- Lunch = turkey + avocado lettuce wraps / big salad with roasted veggies & protein/soup, sauerkraut
- Snacks = plantain chips, pickles, kale chips, bone broth
- Dinner = roasted chicken with sauteed leafy greens + roasted root vegetables / tacos with romaine “shells”/ fish with veg/ coconut flour chicken tenders / soup / Zoodles stir-fry
- Beverages = water, tea, Kombucha
- Dessert = Banana Blueberry Mini Muffins
When it comes to lifestyle, I decided to amp up my self-care & practice slowing down. I also enjoy daily sessions in our infrared sauna & dry-brushing.
CURRENT STATUS + UPDATES – THINGS ARE LOOKING WAY UP!
Within one week on AIP, I noticed a complete turnaround in my energy! I felt lighter, brighter & all around happier. I also lost about 2 pounds the first week! Something was obviously working.
Now that I am over a month into the protocol, I have lost 9 pounds, my skin is more clear, and my face is no longer puffy. I also haven’t felt hungry at all, feel super energized throughout the day, and my belly bloat is pretty much non-existent. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how good I feel & how quickly I began to see a change!
Better yet, yesterday I received some amazing news from my doctor! Within just one month on the AIP (and 2 months being 100% gluten free) my TSH has dropped from a 4.5 to a 3.3!
You can’t imagine how happy I was, I pretty much screamed into the phone when the woman gave me my results then did a happy dance!
I am super psyched to see these improvements in such a short amount of time! This week, I began food re-introductions on the AIP, and will continue to track symptoms to see how I feel. I purchased Phoenix Helix’s e-book to help me with the re-introduction phase since I wanted to make sure I did everything right after all this hard work. (It can be super overwhelming!)
I’m pretty certain I am going to stay off of gluten indefinitely, considering how good I feel without it. I am most excited to add back in nuts, eggs & certain spices.
I’m hopeful that in another month, my thyroid levels will normalize further and I will continue to see positive results!
Remember, you know your body best, and when something doesn’t feel right I encourage you to dig in & take back your health.
Disclaimer: This post outlines my personal experience & story. I am not a doctor or medical practitioner, and this information is not intended to cure, heal or treat your condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your health to discuss a plan that’s best for you.