June 20, 2018
Now that summer is here, many of my clients have come to me with a similar concern. How do I fit in a bathing suit?! I have gained so much weight! Panic sets in! I need something for those glorious summer barbecues or on lazy days sunning at the beach.
Sometimes our weight problems aren’t just because we binged on junk food. Sometimes we gain weight from other causes. Medications, hormone imbalances, menopause, and thyroid problems can also cause weight gain.
Recently, a client was referred to me by her physician because her labs showed a high blood sugar level. She also had gained a great deal of weight in a short period of time. He suspected that she might a problem with her thyroid gland.
She said, “I am tired all the time. I try to read a bedtime story to my children and fall asleep while reading. Trying to stay awake, and to make myself feel good, I hunt for something sweet, delectable, and creamy. Every morning I think my brain is in a fog. I’ll go upstairs looking for something, forget what it was that I was looking for and come back downstairs again. No clue of why I went upstairs in the first place. I’m only 40 years old and I need a nap! Even when I take a short nap, I never feel refreshed when I wake up. I try to exercise, but between taking care of the kids, household duties and other responsibilities, the time needed to exercise effectively becomes nearly impossible.”
We have a general idea of what causes high blood sugar levels, but what exactly is a thyroid level? Studies show how this small butterfly-shaped gland plays a big part in the function of many organs including the heart, brain, skin, pancreas, and kidneys. It utilizes the iodine found in the bloodstream to produce thyroid hormones. When these hormones become unbalanced, the thyroid gland can stop functioning properly and cause many side effects such as blood sugar abnormalities and lack of energy. Thinning hair, weak nails and weight gain can also occur. Regulation of metabolism is also affected. The foods we choose to eat and the amount of physical activity we engage in play an important role in thyroid metabolism.
After listening, I assured my client that making small changes in her diet should make her feel better. I shared with her the importance of eating whole, real, nutrient-dense foods. Artificial sweeteners may disrupt hormone levels and have a negative impact on the endocrine system. I indicated a diet with no fat, or the wrong fats, may weaken the immune system and possibly contribute to a lack of energy. I told her to avoid processed fats because they can contribute to poor healing and malfunction in the hormone system. Natural foods such as extra virgin olive oil and a variety of nuts and seeds may be a better choice. Lastly, I shared how protein ingested in adequate amounts is essential for producing thyroid hormones. I also told her eating a complete protein at each meal, containing all of the amino acids, was vital to feeling better, sustaining energy, and losing weight.
I designed a plan specifically tailored to meet her individual needs. She seemed eager to try something that required no pills, shakes or meal replacements. What it required for her to attain success was to be mindful of her selection of whole, nutrient dense foods whenever possible.
A month later she came in to see me and was happy to tell me how much better she felt. She had so much energy, she started a walking program with her kids after school. She wasn't as tempted by junk food. She showed me how her nails had strengthened and skin was clear. In addition, she had lost 11 pounds! She exclaimed, “I love how I feel! I feel better than I have felt in years. I’m hitting the beach in a new bathing suit!”