Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland is less active than it’s supposed to be. The thyroid gland releases hormones that help to regulate metabolism, so when it’s working slower than normal, your metabolism slows down. Think of the metabolism like the “engine” of your body - when you have a faster metabolism, you burn more calories, and vice versa. Consequently, many people with the condition experience symptoms that come with a slower “engine” like fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness, constipation and more.
Many people who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism are concerned about gaining weight. Although diet can’t cure the condition, healthy behaviours can help you to maintain a healthy weight, when used in combination with treatment from your physician.
Here’s a few behaviours that will help you to maintain a healthy weight:
Start by getting the disease under control. If your hormone levels are uncontrolled, then weight loss is going to be challenging. Make sure you start by consulting with your physician and having the appropriate blood tests done to ensure that your care plan is addressing these foundational issues.
Pay attention to portion control. Staying aware of the amount that you are eating during meals and snacks is an important part of the weight management equation. If you’re struggling to understand whether you’re eating too much or too little, try consulting with a dietitian or use a calorie counting Smartphone application temporarily. Smartphone applications can be helpful in building awareness of our eating habits, but shouldn’t be relied on long-term.
Focus on healthy, filling foods. Certain foods, like fibre and lean protein, take longer for our bodies to break down. Because of this, they tend to keep us full for longer. Try incorporating more fibre-rich foods, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, etc. and lean proteins, like chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt, etc. during meals and snacks.
Stay mindful of added fat, sugar and sodium. People with hypothyroidism are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. To ensure that your heart stays as healthy as possible, limit your consumption of processed and packaged foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, added salt and added sugars. This will also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Incorporate exercise. Exercise is another important piece to the weight loss equation. Exercise helps you burn more calories, but it also has incredibly beneficial effects on our overall mental and physical well-being. Speak to your physician about an exercise routine that works for you and your care plan.