My Personal Journey With Hashimoto’s Part 2 {Plus My Love for Parsley Health Functional Medicine}

[Photo credit: Shivani Cotter]

A few months ago, I wrote about my journey with Hashimoto’s Disease and what I’ve been doing to jumpstart the healing process over here on the blog. I realize it’s now been about four months since then and a lot has happened in between so I wanted to share a follow up with you as to where I am now!

You can read all about what I personally did in my previous post, but just a quick recap of where we left things off in February 2017:

  • I had just started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet in January, and had been one month on the protocol, and a little over two months 100% gluten free
  • I was truly taking charge of my own health, since the doctor refused to listen to me or order any extensive lab testing
  • I was feeling more energized, less puffy, and had lost about 9 pounds within a little over one month
  • My TSH had dropped from a 4.5 to a 3.3 within one month on AIP!
  • I was just about to start AIP food re-introductions, with Phoenix Helix’s e-book as a guideline
  • I was not on any thyroid medication, and still am not on any medications. (Note: this is a personal choice, and also doctor recommended based on my levels, but you should consult with your doctor since it’s not always the right choice for you)

Alright, now that it’s been about four months since then, I wanted to share with you where I am today!

Autoimmune Protocol Food Re-Introductions

Alrighty, last we chatted I was just about to begin food re-introductions on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). For those who don’t know, the AIP is pretty much a more intense version of Paleo — where you also remove nuts, nightshades and eggs — and then slowly add them back in to see what’s causing issues for you.

As I mentioned, I used Phoenix Helix’s e-book as my guideline, which I highly recommend since this step can be a bit overwhelming. Following  her advice, I went with the method of introducing my favorite foods first but making sure to do it in the correct order (i.e. you don’t want to introduce cheese before introducing grass-fed butter).

Once I had a game-plan, I chose one food each week to add back in, skipping some weeks here or there when my body felt off or if I reacted to a certain food. The first food group I added back in were spices like black pepper since it’s pretty much in everything and this made eating out pretty much impossible during that first month. That was smooth sailing, fortunately!

During this time, I was also able to add back in eggs which can be an issue for many (I prioritize farm-fresh, pasture-raised like Vital Farms), organic coffee in smaller amounts, minimal alcohol (typically silver Tequila or wine), nuts and seeds.

I won’t bore you with all the foods I added back, as I was lucky that most foods did not cause an issue for me…that is until I got into the nightshades and grains (which many choose not to add back in at all). Because I don’t believe in deprivation and don’t like to think of foods as “off limits,” my goal was to test these foods and see if they worked for my body. That’s the whole point of this protocol in my mind, after all!

During months of experimenting, I first noticed a strange reaction to dark chocolate. It made me super tired and cranky, and I don’t know if it was the chocolate itself or the fact that my body isn’t really used to having sugar. Either way, I removed it from my diet for a bit longer and now can enjoy high-quality vegan chocolate like Taza in small doses.

Tomatoes and potatoes (nightshades) seem to have gone OK for me, but it looks like I have a bit of an issue with the spicier nightshade spices like cayenne, jalepeno and red pepper as my face and neck broke out when experimenting with those. Yes, it could have been a coincidence, but for now I’m listening to my body and avoiding those as much as possible for the time being.

While white rice went perfectly fine for me (yay for sushi!), brown rice is still a grey area for me, as the same week I added it back in I felt rather bloated and groggy. I’ve been keeping it out of my diet for now, but will likely try to re-introduce again soon since I’d like to have some whole grains in my life.

Corn is another wishy washy one, but since being gluten free it’s nice to have the option for corn tortillas and what not. I will say I think my body has a major issue digesting corn in its whole form, so I’m staying away big-time for now. This is a super controversial one, since its highly processed and can react similarly to gluten in the body, but I’m trying to do the best I can and just eat things like non-GMO corn chips and tortillas minimally.

Lastly, chickpeas were another big win for me, so hummus and I have once again been reunited and it feels so good. It’s important to note that I’m not going crazyyyy with any of these foods, but it’s nice to have some variety back into my meals.

I still have yet to try introducing quinoa and black beans, which I’ll probably test soon. However, I’ve made the decision to continue with no gluten, dairy (other than occasional grass-fed butter) or soy since I just feel so good, and have a sneaky suspicion those are my biggest culprits.

Both gluten and dairy can cause inflammation, and gluten in particular has been linked to thyroid issues so I’m pretty sure I’m staying away for the long haul and quite frankly I don’t even miss it. No, I am not saying gluten is the enemy but it is my enemy. I’m also not saying this way of eating works for everyone but it works for me; that’s why it’s important to really get to know your body — I mean really get to know her. 

This may be TMI, but ever since I cut out gluten, dairy and soy I pretty much have zero gas and bloating, which is my body’s way of telling me, “You’re on the right track, girlfriend!

Body, Mind & Soul Updates

When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and my symptoms were at their worst, I literally had no energy to exercise, and most days I needed a nap even after 10-12 hours of sleep. So I listened to my body, and pretty much didn’t exercise for the entire winter aside from the occasional yoga class.

When my energy began to restore, I started adding in gentle exercise like yoga, barre and walks around my neighborhood. A few weeks ago, I went on my first run in about a year on the beach, and it felt great to sweat it out and be one with my body! I used to be a pretty big runner and have run several half marathons so it was weird for me at first to chill out when it came to moving my body.

I’ve now also been making time for daily meditation, which was recommended by my new Functional Medicine Doctor at Parsley Health (more on that in a bit). I do it on my own, in a group setting or with the Headspace app.

I constantly find ways to add more joy into my life, like growing herbs on our porch, buying fresh flowers and cooking yummy meals for myself and my husband. I continue to use essential oils, practice positive affirmations and create time daily for self-care as well. In addition to Vitamin D3, I also started taking a selenium supplement a couple months ago.

As for my body, I continue to see positive changes every month, including brighter skin, less bloat and no more puffiness. I have lost an additional 4 pounds (about 12-13 pounds total), and am now pretty much back to my normal weight that feels right in my body. At the end of the day, you know your body best, so listen to it.

Thyroid Lab Results & Improvements

As I mentioned in my previous post, within one month on the Autoimmune Protocol, my TSH level dropped from a 4.5 to a 3.3, which is fantastic! For several months, it pretty much remained right there at a 3.3, and I started to wonder if it would ever lower further or if perhaps that was my normal.

Just this month, I got a full thyroid panel done, and am thrilled to say my TSH has dropped down to a 2.66, and my Free T3 and Free T4 have also improved slightly too. My TPO antibodies continue to stay elevated above 20 and actually have gone up a bit, but my Functional Medicine doctor explained that these levels can fluctuate and mine still aren’t that bad. This tells me that I’m slowly but surely beginning to heal my autoimmune disease, which is just fascinating!

I’m continuing to stay off medications for now, but if my levels don’t drop below a 2.5 in another six weeks, I’m likely going to start a very small dose of Natural Desiccated Thyroid Hormone. (Note: I’m trying to normalize my levels to prepare my body for baby-making.)

The Challenges with My PCP & Endocrinologist

I’ve spoke up about this before, but it has been quite the struggle in dealing with my PCP and most recently my endocrinologist. My PCP refused to do a full thyroid panel, and didn’t really understand what was going on with me individually, nor the autoimmune condition. In fact, she told me everything was “normal” when I felt anything but normal.

After a couple months, she ended up referring me to an endocrinologist, because I personally think she was sick of all my questions and the fact that I was advocating for my own health.

Unfortunately, my trip to the endocrinologist wasn’t much better. She was unbelievably condescending, and when I told her about how amazing I felt after the changes in my diet and lifestyle, she laughed at me and told me there was no way removing gluten could have helped my thyroid. This is super disturbing to me, since these dietary and lifestyle changes have made a world of a difference in how I feel, and my lab results are proof in the pudding.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Western Medicine and 100% feel it is needed, but I just wish doctors would listen to their patients more often, and try to get to the root cause rather than dismissing you or slapping a pill on it.

I won’t lie, I left many of these visits feeling small and hopeless, but then I decided enough was enough and I was the only one who could take charge of my own health. This led me to some amazing people in the community on similar journeys as me, and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I’m so glad I listened to my gut and made the many changes I did, or I’d probably still be suffering with horrible symptoms.

The Silver Lining in Discovering Parsley Health

After getting fed up with all of the doctors in my area, a friend told me about Parsley Health, a high-tech medical practice dedicated to putting the patient first. Ah, it’s like music to my ears! They have offices in New York, LA, and San Francisco, and with a membership you get tons of perks including your own personal Functional Medicine Doctor and health coach. Their approach? Help you get to the root cause by getting to know you as an individual.

While I had seen so many great improvements in my health, I still wanted to optimize further and craved that guidance from a Doctor who really could understand what I was going through. I signed up pretty much right away (a few weeks ago), since I had been searching for something like this all year. Unfortunately, all of the Functional Medicine practices in my area are either crazy expensive or have crazy long wait lists of over a year, and I don’t got time for that, man!

Since I’m from Massachusetts, I took a trip down to NYC for my first visit where I met my Doctor, Dr. Lilli Link. We chatted for over an hour about my health history, biggest pain points, diet, lifestyle, stress and more and then came up with a personalized plan just for me. Oh, and did I mention she actually prescribed me meditation? How freakin’ cool is that?

I was super impressed by all the lab tests they ran, everything from heart health to vitamins and hormones. I recently got my results back, and can’t wait to discuss them with my Doctor during my next visit (which can actually be done virtually). Yes, I’m a total lab geek!

As I mentioned above, based on my major thyroid improvements, Dr. Link suggested I hold off on medication for now and see where I’m at in another six weeks and I absolutely love that plan.

I have my first call with my Health Coach next week, and I’ll continue to keep you posted on this new part of my journey. Things are looking, up, up, up!

I’ll leave you here with this: To others who may be struggling, you’ve totally got this! My advice to you is to find a Functional Medicine Doctor who will help you find your root cause by doing proper testing, but most importantly to educate yourself and take charge of your body. Trust me, it’s extremely empowering!

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. 


2 Responses to “My Personal Journey With Hashimoto’s Part 2 {Plus My Love for Parsley Health Functional Medicine}”

  1. Jolene Says:

    Wow, so interesting and such fantastic results, my friend! I totally agree that you have to follow what works for your body – though my bout with SIBO is hopefully my one and only (eek), I too have experimented with bringing back foods I stayed away from when I did low FODMAP to reduce my symptoms. I too have not brought back things that caused gas and bloating and couldn’t be happier! TMI as well but I can’t remember the last time I HAD gas! And I used to have it constantly!! While I sort of miss a few of these things – corn, cauliflower, most beans etc – I do not miss the side effects enough to bring them back. As for your doctors, I TOTALLY agree, it helped me so much to find a GI that actually listened and didn’t tell me no before I even explained. My husband is an anomaly I feel like, as an NP, he goes above and beyond at his office, but many just do not, sadly. So glad you are feeling better!!

  2. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    Thanks for your comment Jo! It truly is fascinating stuff. Isn’t it great when we take charge of our bodies and health? And YES, improving digestion has been a game-changer 😉

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017 at 12:59 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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