This post was originally published on the Wanderlust Blog.
As I alluded to in my impactful changes of 2018 article, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis about a year ago. I knew that I’d had hypothyroidism (I was told by my naturopath that since my mom, dad, and my two brothers had it, it made sense that I had it too) since I first got a full thyroid panel at the age of 20. Ever since, I’d taken Naturethroid (albeit inconsistently), never thinking to look up the instructions or really understand anything about it. I had transferred the doctor worship to my naturopath after she helped me cure my amenorrhea and didn’t do my own research or ask important questions.
It wasn’t until the Hashimoto’s diagnosis that I really dug into thyroid health. I began to understand the root causes, the things that make the thyroid function better and worse, the different medications available and pros and cons of each, how reversible Hashimoto’s is and how it connects to symptoms I had been feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. I learned that Hashimoto’s is quite complicated and common (especially for women!), but that it is reversible. It’s difficult for most people to ever completely stop taking some kind of thyroid supplement, be it natural or pharmaceutical, but, having seen that it’s possible, I’ve made it my mission to reverse my Hashimoto’s and one day ditch my Naturethroid.
As it would happen, I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Aviva Romm, a wonderful functional medicine doctor and author of The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. This past January, I followed her 3-4 week program and then retested my thyroid with a blood test.
Despite everything I know about food, meditation, movement, supplements, and herbs, this program taught me so much, and opened my eyes to all of my false beliefs: the things I’d convinced myself, or never thought about, or didn’t fully understand, or blindly assumed. If you’re thinking of doing the Adrenal Thyroid Revolution program, or any kind of reset program or elimination diet, here are my seven takeaways that might help you understand what to expect and what to look out for:
My Biggest Learnings from the Adrenal Thyroid Revolution Program
1) Food products are still food products and processed foods – even if they’re healthy!
Many “health foods”( i.e. foods sold in health food stores or organic sections of mainstream grocery stores) have preservatives, vegetable or canola oil, or additives like stabilizers (things that make things creamier for example). Somehow, I had been conveniently letting these items fall into my grocery cart — or maybe my husband did and I didn’t fight it — despite my awareness that whole foods or one-ingredient foods are always preferable.
This includes things like frozen organic or cauliflower-crust pizza, “healthy” chips or crackers, granola and other cereals, certain soups, marinara and other sauces, nut butters, gluten-free and organic frozen chicken nuggets, coconut ice cream bars, dark chocolate bars, kimchi, hummus, salad dressings, nut milks, packaged bars, yogurt (even plant-based), and many more. I had wrongly assumed that because a product had the USDA organic label, or because it used coconut over dairy or cauliflower over gluten, that it was good for me. But I soon learned that many of these “healthy” products contain tons of ingredients that I definitely did not want to be consuming.
I had to come to terms with the fact that if a box of organic crackers is sitting on a shelf, then it is highly likely it has preservatives, and that gluten-free organic chicken nuggets are still a fried food.
2) Almost everything contains added sugar and inflammatory oils and butter.
I didn’t fully understand how common canola and vegetable oils are in food products, so I wasn’t catching them on labels. I also wildly underestimated how many healthy-seeming food products had added sugar! Kimchi was the most shocking. In my mind, because I wouldn’t add sugar to kimchi or nut butter, I mistakenly assumed an organic brand I trusted wouldn’t either. Not true at all. Sugar is added to things you couldn’t possibly imagine needing sugar, like cauliflower pizza. Why on earth does that need to be sweetened?!
I also underestimated how many little bits of sugar I had been consuming throughout the day. From fruit in my breakfast smoothie to a coconut date roll in the afternoon to some dark chocolate or a coconut ice cream bar a few evenings a week, my sugar intake really added up. A coconut date roll isn’t bad for you, per se, but in conjunction with sugar from those other sources, I was consuming way too much. I encourage you to really think about all the sugar you consume in a day (including hidden sugar in things like kimchi or peanut butter and natural sugars in fruit), and you might be surprised by your total intake.
3) Nightshade vegetables are everywhere.
For the three-week formal program, I eliminated nightshades (a family of plants that includes tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes),