Having a thyroid disorder is taxing on the body. When one has hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones.
These thyroid hormones are necessary for other organs in the body to function well and stay healthy. People with hypothyroidism experience weight gain, constipation, fatigue, feel sluggish all the time, some feel depressed, experience mood swings, etc. as consequence. There are times when medications alone are not enough to manage the associated symptoms.
One needs to plan and consume a diet which is thyroid gland friendly and nourishes the body. Below are some ideas on a healthy diet for a hypothyroidism patient and suggestions for the best foods to include in your diet.
- Include more whole grains in your diet
- Limit the consumption of refined grains like white rice, or refined carbs like pasta, white bread as a source of carbohydrates and foods which contain gluten.
- Include more whole grains like Brown rice, red, black, or wild rice which contain more fiber, proteins, and antioxidants.
- Millets like Kodo millet and Foxtail millet, Ragi Seeds/ grains like Quinoa
The above alternatives are rich in plant protein fiber. They will help maintain healthy sugar levels throughout the day, keep you satiated for long and will promote healthy bowel movements too. You can incorporate the alternatives into your meals through some of the dishes suggested below:
- Breakfast: Replace rice idlis or dosas WITH Ragi or oats idlis/ dosas for breakfast, Ragi bread toast or Quinoa upma with vegetables.
- Lunch/Dinner: You can make brown rice/ quinoa khichdi with vegetables, rice flour-based pasta or gluten free bread. You can replace your wheat rotis/ chapathis with rotis made of gluten free flours like, Rajgira
(Amaranth), Bajra (pearl millet), Jowar(Sorghum).
- Snack: Bhel puri with puffed brown rice instead of puffed white rice.
Up your legume intake
Black-eyed peas, chickpeas, Bengal gram, kidney beans, chana dal, masoor dal and whole black gram. Upping the legume intake is common in a thyroid diet for weight loss. Legumes are a rich source of plant protein, complex carbs, fiber, rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, iron. They are naturally low in fat (free of saturated fats) and are cholesterol free being plant-based protein source. Make sure you soak them over night before you cook them to make them more digestible.
Here are ways in which you can incorporate them on your meals:
- Breakfast: Pair idli/ dosa with Sambar (which contains pigeon pea lentils) or replace rice dosas with dal dosas or chilas.
- Lunch/ Dinner: dal makhani/ chole with rice/ dal fry rotis/ quinoa.
- Snack: Add Green moong (sprouted)/ chickpea salad with chopped tomatoes, onions, lime, and some cilantro can be had as a salad with meals. Carrots, cucumber, or chips with Hummus(chickpea) dip.
Eat nuts and seeds
Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are good for the brain health, reduces body stress and boost energy. Almonds and cashews are a rich source of Iron.
Brazil nut is noteworthy. It is one of the best foods to include for Thyroid patients. It has more mineral content than any other nut. Its high in Selenium content. Selenium is needed to stimulate the thyroid gland and stimulate the production of thyroid hormones.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you do not consume more that 1 or 2 per day. Having more than 1 or 2 per day is harmful and it can lead to selenium toxicity.
Seeds like flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds (protein rich) are full of fiber that can help relieve the constipation associated with hypothyroidism, they are a rich source of zinc, selenium, iron, and omega fatty acids. Seeds are also a great and natural way to balance and calm hormones in the body.
How can you incorporate them into your daily diet?
- Breakfast: Add flax seeds, walnuts, almonds to your ragi porridge or oats, make nut milk with almonds, walnuts, and water in a blender (sweeten it with Jaggery or add dates for a healthy sweet alternative to any sugar) add the milk to your porridge or cereal.
- Lunch/ Dinner: Add any seeds to your rice or roti dough,
- Snack: Have a hand full of nuts and seeds as is. If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for a healthy dessert you can make dark chocolate energy bites.
Up your vegetable and fruit intake
Vegetables and fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The water in them cools the body. Including leafy greens like spinach and kale in the diet is a must. There are some vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, radish, kale which need to be consumed in moderation or avoided as much as possible. They contain goitrogens which can make the thyroid gland produce less of the hormone. Make sure you cook these vegetables before you consume them. Cooking destroys goitrogens. You should have at least 1 serving of fruits every day. Consume it like a mid-day snack.
How can you include fruits and vegetables in your diet?
- Breakfast: Have an apple/ pear for breakfast, add blue berries/ strawberries to your morning cereal, make an upma/ poha with vegetables (carrot, peas, beans, and onion).
- Lunch/Dinner: Vegetable curry with your rice/ roti, salad with rice and roti
- Snack: Have an apple, or fruit bowl on an empty stomach like a mid-morning snack between breakfast and lunch, Add fruits and veggies to our smoothie
- Include Iodized salt in your diet– It is a must. Iodine will help the thyroid gland produce more thyroid hormone.
- Fats and oils used for cooking – Use coconut oil, ghee (both good sources of saturated fats) or any form of col pressed oil.
- Spirulina powder with water– Spirulina is a non-animal source of Iodine, protein and B12 from fresh and salt water. It has gained popularity as a super food on the market. Have 2 teaspoon of the powder with a little water half hour before your meals.
- Exercise and meditate: Exercise to manage weight and prevent excess weight gain. Make sure you incorporate movement into your routine. Movement and some form of exercise will make the brain produce happy hormones to drive depression away/ keep mood swings in check.
- Meditate to keep stress levels down and calm the mind. Exercise and meditation balance hormones and keep the thyroid gland happy.
- Get adequate sleep: Fatigue is a hallmark of hypothyroidism. Lack of sleep can make your hormonal balance go off whack. This in-turn affects mood and productivity during the day. Make sure you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night.
- Look for natural alternatives/ foods/ Ayurvedic herbs that can help keep your TSH levels in check.