This is a guest post by my friend and colleague, Jill Grunewald. In September, Jill’s Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s will be published. To celebrate, I’ve asked her to drop some knowledge on this important women’s health topic. Hint: If you read to the end you’ll have a chance to win a copy of her beautiful book.
I know you. You’re busy and have a never-ending to-do list. You feel like you can never catch up because the more you cross things off your list, the more there is to do.
You make little time for self-care. It’s indulgent and counterproductive, right? I mean, if you schedule a massage or make more time to cook vs. getting another rotisserie chicken from the deli, there’s less opportunity to experience the oh-so-satisfactory feeling of crossing a few things off the list.
But you’re doing a great job of taking care of everyone else – your kids, partner, boss, friend who’s going through a divorce, or ailing parents. You’re tired. But you’re also wired on adrenaline. You’ve got one foot on the gas and one on the brakes.
Maybe you have perfectionist tendencies, but you know that perfection is an unattainable goal. Nevertheless, she persisted.
I know you because I am you.
Some would call us “Type As.”
Maybe I should say I was you – that I got sick of the race and after seeing what it was doing to me and the majority of my clients, I chose to walk my talk and let some stuff go. (But the sweet allure of list-making is something that I’ll likely never get away from.)
Mind and Body
We weren’t designed to live on a rat wheel. The unattainable expectations that society places on us – and the ones we place on ourselves – are a huge disservice to women who feel like they need to “have it all.”
(After all of the pushing and striving, are we any closer to having it all?)
If you think that this way of living has no impact on your body, please think again. Those extra few pounds around your middle likely didn’t “come out of nowhere.” Maybe your doctor told you that weight gain is just a part of aging. (Not true.)
Perhaps your gut is a little “off,” you’re bloated, and you’re having trouble sleeping. You’re experiencing mood swings that feel “hormonal,” but you feel too young to be in perimenopause. You’re also writing the aches and pains, dry skin, and hair loss off as “aging.”
On top of all of this, you feel like you can’t let things roll off your back like you used to.
Yes, It’s Likely Hormonal
But this post isn’t about the hormones you may think I’m going to talk about. It’s not about PMS or the monthly ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone.
Do these hormones have an impact on the hormones that I do want you to know about?
Yes, but what I’d like to highlight is the cross talk between the stress hormones that keep you plugging along on the wheel – cortisol and adrenaline – and your thyroid health.
It’s a classic negative feedback loop.
To cope, the body makes more cortisol (the belly fat hormone) and adrenaline. But overproduction of these hormones can slow the thyroid and cause or exacerbate hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism).
The thyroid is the little gland that stirs our hormonal soup. When this master gland of energy and metabolism starts to sputter, it leans on the adrenals for more cortisol and adrenaline.
And so the cycle continues.
Short-Circuiting the Cycle
Many of the symptoms mentioned above point to a classic thyroid/adrenal imbalance.
Firstly, I would take Michelle’s Stress Response Spectrum Evaluation. Because it’s not likely that you’ll experience complete thyroid health if stress isn’t in check.
What I want you to understand is just how impactful the right nutrition is for optimizing thyroid function because every cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormone.
As women approach life’s transitions, especially a period of prolonged stress, pregnancy and delivery, or peri/menopause, it’s important to understand how nutrition can be our ally.
Diagnosis or not, thyroid drugs or not, you want to feed your thyroid well:
1. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with low thyroid function (maybe you’re suspecting you may be hypothyroid), it’s in everyone’s best interest to get the nutrients that the thyroid is so dependent on for lifelong support (more on nutrients below).
2. If you’re taking thyroid hormone replacement, don’t let it do all the work for you. Based on the documented risks of long-term thyroid drug use, the majority of my clients are eager to learn of ways to reduce or eliminate their thyroid drugs, which the right nutrition can certainly help with. (Do not make any changes to your drug use based on this post!)
There’s no one-size-fits all protocol for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, but from a nutritional perspective, I have three resources for you:
1. Download my rigorously researched nutrient guide here. It’s an at-a-glance chart for the most thyroid- and immune-supportive nutrition, broken down by food group.
2. If you really want to geek out, read my 10-part Minerals and Your Thyroid series. Here is the intro to the series and each subsequent post is linked to within the intro. At the end of each post, you’ll find a list of foods rich in that thyroid-supportive nutrient.
3. After five years of working on it, my Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s is now available for order. The chart mentioned in #1 above is the springboard for this cookbook, making our mouthwatering recipes undoubtedly the most thyroid-supportive you’ll find anywhere.
Use the widget below to enter to win your very own copy of Jill’s Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s:
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Jill Grunewald is an integrative nutrition and hormone coach and the author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.