How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Become Your Own Registered Thyitician
“Thyitician” as in, you know, thyroid dietician. I say this because recently, I’ve received several emails and questions from you dear readers, asking me things that, well, I’ve gotta admit; I simply cannot answer. I mean, as much as I’d love to get all Dear Abby-ish with you and chit chat about food and health until the fucking cows come home, there’s something you should know; something I’ve discovered for myself along this journey to better health and wellness: you are your own expert. I’ve made a point to be explicitly clear and honest with you all over the fact that I’m completely self-taught, and in following that theme, the moral of the How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass story today is that you should and can be too. The most important thing we as patients and human beings can have is a voice and an opinion. This is why I never want you to take my word on the ideas I present to you; though they may make sense, they won’t always be right for your body and your unique situation, which is what you must weigh for yourself.
You’re all also by now aware of my food allergy fascination as it relates to illness: how it sometimes prompts them, how eliminating certain foods sometimes helps, how it can be an effective and cheap health tool that doesn’t require doctors and prescriptions, and how many times this idea is taken for a load of bullshit by mainstream thinkers (many times when a patient tries to be proactive, they’re made out to look silly or neurotic). So far the food allergies we’ve touched on include gluten, grains, dairy, sugars and yeast. But trust me, there are many more. Other common food intolerances that are implicated in chronic illnesses include legumes, nuts, eggs (specifically the egg white), salicylates, nightshades, molds, and amines (I will go into all of these later in further detail). So here’s where it gets tricky. How do you know what, if anything, is affecting you and possibly making your symptoms worse and/or straining your already taxed system? The answer: an elimination diet and this is where you put your Thyitician skills to use.
Elimination diets are, simply put, 2-4 week (or more) periods of time where you eliminate one certain food and later reintroduce to see how your body reacts. If your body reacts negatively (rash, sleepiness, headaches, brain fog, menstrual cramps, GI problems, exaggerated anxiety or depression, etc.), then you might just have a problem with that certain food or drink. Basically whenever you have a sneaking suspicion that one food doesn’t agree with you or is giving you problems, eliminate it and then reintroduce and watch for the results. So there’s your weekly assignment: listen to what your body is telling you after meals. Also keep in mind that if a true food intolerance exists, people can often have mildly adverse effects when eliminating it — it’s as if your system is detoxing, so you may actually feel worse before you feel better which is a good sign. Oh and if I were at all organized and tidy, I’d keep a food journal, which may be a great idea for you because cycles and patterns often become clear once written down.
Although I strongly believe in personal nutrition choices (as evidenced in my endorsement of case-by-case elimination diets), and therefore can never say that there is one correct way of eating for everyone, I do think there are certain elements of a healthy diet we should all try as thyroidish people and immunocompromised patients to incorporate into our lives. These include good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, avocado), anti-inflammatory foods like certain spices and herbs (garlic, turmeric, parsley), and vegetables of all varieties (minus O.D.ing on the goitrogens). Preferably, if you can, make sure these are all organic because the pesticides used usually happen to be endocrine disruptors or contain other harmful chemicals that cause imbalance (chlorine, anyone?). That said, I’d like to give you all a few basic ideas on keeping a healthy kitchen because it’s much easier and cheaper than it’s made out to be.
- Keep a stocked pantry full of goods that don’t quickly expire. This doesn’t mean condiments and ready-made meals chock full of autolyzed yeast extract and partially-hydrogenated soybean oil. Items here include “straight-from-the-ground things like nuts and seeds, organic canned veggies (tomatoes and beans for example), grains if you can tolerate them (grits/polenta, rice, quinoa, rice pasta), oils (coconut, olive, etc.). Buying in bulk is especially money-saving and many health food stores sell grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes by the pound. Also, sometimes these bulk suppliers sell the broken nuts/seeds at a discounted rate.
- Invest in a food processor. Food processors are invaluable tools. With them, you can make fresh sauces, dips, and dressings (pesto, salsa, guacamole, hummus for example) that are full of nutrients and contain no chemicals, additives, or synthetics. Food processors are also great tools for making gluten-free flours (nut or rice flours) and also nut butters like almond butter and cashew butter. Because you’re lucky and because I’m nice like that, below is a recipe I’ve included in order for you to utilize your food processor for too-easy gluten-free, dairy-free cookies.
- Stock up on anti-inflammatory dried spices like turmeric, garlic, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, parsley, curry, ginger, and also replace your regular table salt with sea salt.
- Let fresh vegetables be the bulk of your weekly grocery purchases. The idea is to keep your pantry stocked with inexpensive, yet nutritious foods that don’t quickly expire so that your fridge can be full of straight-from-the-ground veg and fresh herbs and the majority of your budget can be spent on those, even if you do happen to be a meat-eater.
Gluten-free/Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies
I’m not one for recipes (I have a serious problem with following directions), but these chocolate chip cookies are easy enough even for me (yes, this is a Liz original recipe). I like them because they don’t contain any fancy/alternative ingredients (I’m anti alternative ingredients) and taste just like the cookies I grew up eating. I’m lusting just at the though of them. I realize that yes, they do contain an egg. If this is offensive to you, I’m sorry and please forgive me. The problem is that binding agents usually happen to be starches (something my body cannot tolerate and will react to with a huge-ass tempter tantrum), or they’re completely obscure and unnatural ingredients; of which an egg is neither. , Flax seeds and bananas work as binders too if you have the time and desire to include those in your baking. (Remember, this is all about individualized nutrition choices so we’re allowed to disagree and still like each other, so if anything, I hope your opinion of me isn’t dependent on one little egg).
The recipe also makes for a great gluten-free and dairy-free “blank batter” meaning, omit the chocolate chips and use peanut butter instead of cashews and you’ve got a peanut butter cookie. Or, omit the chocolate and add cinnamon to the cashew butter and you’ve got spice cookies. You get the point.
To make homemade cashew (or peanut, or almond) butter, simply add a few handfuls of cashews (either roasted and salted is fine, or raw. If you choose to use roasted and salted, omit the salt as listed in the ingredients below) to a food processor and slowly stream in a mild-tasting oil (canola, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower — all preferably organic) until nuts are ground and the mixture has the consistency of peanut butter. Simple enough and so much more affordable and fresh than buying it premade.
(Makes 8-12 Small Cookies)
- 1 cup cashew butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract*
- 1 tsp. salt (preferably sea salt)
- 1 bar dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in large bowl until well-blended. Place spoonfuls of batter onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done. Let cool completely on the baking sheet (otherwise, they’ll crumble). *Note: vanilla extract will sometimes contain gluten, so be very vigilant and read labels.
Until Next Week,
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com