What You Need to Know Before Trying a Thyroid Diet

woman fish dinner

If you're on Pinterest or Facebook or Instagram or basically ANY social media of ANY kind, you know it's all about thyroid diets right now.


The basic premise? if you're feeling sluggish and ugh, blame the food you're eating because it's not letting your thyroid do its job.

Your thyroid, FYI, is this butterfly-shaped gland that sits low in the front of your neck. It secretes hormones that influence important body functions like metabolism (aka how fast your body turns food into energy).

If your thyroid's not working correctly, you've got a condition called hypothyroidism. But according to thyroid diets, you can kind of diagnose yourself just by taking a long, hard look at your energy levels and how your body's functioning.

Catching lots of colds? It's your thyroid.

Dull skin? Thyroid.

Feeling eh, ugh, or bleh? Thyroid, baby.

Don't get us wrong. Plenty of these thyroid diets sound perfectly healthy and quite delicious. Think: wild-caught fish, probiotic-rich foods, lots of fiber, fruits and veggies. (While avoiding sugar, dairy, and massive amounts of gluten.)

Shouldn't we ALL be eating like that anyway?

More from The Stir: 8 Easy Tips for Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau

CafeMom asked Tracy A. Siegfried, MD, a bariatric and metabolic specialist with the N.E.W. Program in California, to shed some light on the idea of thyroid diets and who should be buying in. And, well, her insight will probably surprise you.

"The truth?" says Dr. Siegfried. "There is no hypothyroidism diet. Although claims are all over the Internet, there's no scientific evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function and hence metabolism."

If you really, truly DO have an underacting thyroid, says Dr. Siegfried, you need to be a) diagnosed by a doctor and b) taking thyroid hormone replacement.

And once both those things happen, THEN there will be some rando foods you'll want to avoid eating at the same time as your hormone replacement -- like walnuts, soybean flour, cottonseed meal -- which can interfere with your meds.

And THEN if you're still struggling to lose weight, Dr. Siegfried adds, you'll need to take a closer look at ALL the other things that could be preventing you from doing so, like underlying nutritional deficiencies, brain chemistry imbalances, food allergies and sensitivities, your stress levels, how much you exercise ...

It's not like you just guzzle tons of papaya-turmeric juice and eat salmon at every meal and poof!, all your weight and energy issues magically disappear. (Although wouldn't that be dreamy?)

And here's something else you prob didn't gleam from all those thyroid diet pins on Pinterest.

"Not all people with hypothyroidism have weight issues," notes Dr. Siegfried. "Gaining weight or obesity is a multifactorial condition -- there's generally never a single cause, no matter how much we want to blame it on our 'hypothyroid' condition."

True, "untreated hypothyroidism makes the hill steeper when trying to lose weight," she adds, "but it's not the only hill we have to climb."



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