Hashimoto's Diet - The First Step to Treating Hashimoto's | Chris Kresser

Why Changing Your Diet Is Always the First Step in Treating Hashimoto’s

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This article is part of a special report on Thyroid Disorders. To see the other articles in this series, click here.

Dr. Kharrazian has written an excellent post over at his blog about the importance of proper diet in the treatment of Hashimoto’s. He covers all the bases: the importance of going gluten-free, why gluten-free isn’t enough for most people, how to identify and address food sensitivities, how to balance blood sugar, and how to deal with the psychological and emotional resistance that may arise when making significant dietary changes.

The main obstacle most Americans face in implementing dietary changes, as Dr. K points out, is their addiction to the idea of a “quick fix”:

Americans are infatuated with pills, thanks to decades of conditioning from the pharmaceutical industry. It doesn’t matter whether they come from the pharmacy or the health food store, we have a cultural fixation with finding that magic bullet. It’s no wonder—making genuine, lasting changes to your health takes hard work and discipline, the two last things you’ll see advertised on commercials during your favorite television show.

As long as this mentality prevails, we’ll continue to suffer from increasing rates of disease and morbidity, and our “disease-care” system will continue to buckle and, eventually, collapse.

Dietary and lifestyle changes aren’t easy, but they’re the key to promoting health and preventing disease. And that’s just as true with Hashimoto’s as it is with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

315 Comments

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  1. I am 52 have Hashimotos and am pre diabetic. I am also vegetarian. I love eating fake meat products in order to get my protein because the thought of eating a dead animal is something I prefer not to do. How can I get the protein I need without going back to meat, or is that my only option?

  2. Chris,
    After reading your site, I went gluten free. (I have been diagnosed with Hashimotos for 15 years.) I lost 17 pounds and I feel that I am now somewhat Hyper (heart racing, shaking disrupted sleep). I re-took blood work and my t3 has fallen into the low range (83 ng/dl from 106. It has always been near 106. T4 is the same but TSH fell from 1.46 to .52 ) Is this a normal expectation?

    I wish your site had more information re what to expect and what to do with your meds once you go gluten free and things start to change. Also, how do you know the difference between the effects of weight loss and the effects of gluten removal when it comes to regulating thyroid meds?

  3. Great site. I just learned of the gluten connection and am eliminating that. My doc yanked me of Naturethroid because my Antibodies were elevated – near 1000. I’m seeing higher numbers here. According to stopthethyroidmadness.com, I am having hypo symptoms. Is it wise to eliminate T3?

  4. Hello, I just found out I have hashi and 2 thyroid nodules, but yet my thyroid levels are normal, how is this possible? I’m an working on changing my diet. I’ve been sugar free for over 30 days and have lost 10+ lbs. I exercise daily whether I feel like it or not. I have days when I feel good and days when I don’t. I’m currently working on becoming GF but haven’t been free long enough to see any difference. I’m currently taking d3 2000mg and selenium 200mg, vatamin e and a b complex. I haven’t been to an endo yet my apt is next month. I was so hoping to have a handle on this before going to see the endo but im beginning to understand this fix isn’t going to be easy. Any advice, encouragement is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Theresa 🙁

    • Theresa,
      Is sounds like you are doing a lot of things right so far (as far as some of the vitamins you are taking). Have you read the book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?” by Dr. Kharrazian. This book will explain how one can have normal lab tests for thyroid hormone yet still feel exhausted from having Hashimoto’s. It also touches on gluten and its triggering of an immune response. The book is a must read for anyone with Hashimoto’s. My Hashimoto’s has gotten worse since the beginning of the year. I just started taking thyroid glandular for about a week now, it helps in ways but I don’t think I have reached an optimal dosage. Also, I just know my adrenaline glands aren’t functioning at all for the most part, so will be looking into a good Ashwagandha product with a generous amount of B5. How much vitamin E are you taking? B5 and B6? Vitamin C and Magnesium? Best regards, Alicia

  5. Hi:

    I have this.. well, “cute” goiter that really can’t be seen, but I sure feel it when I try to swallow! I’ve been struggling with Hashimoto’s since 2003. I am trying taking fish oil with the Liothyronine. At last blood test found that my electrolytes were off, and that there could be adrenal problem. Energy really fluctuates. have MONDO cravings for carbs and sweets. Have gone wheat free, and then I suffer from piles. Normal course that my GP told me was to increase fiber intake.

    Trying to find alternatives to [raw] carrots, but have found that the sources, websites, research is SOO controversial. Help?

    thanks so much.

    • What kinds of grains and legumes can you eat? Do you include any legumes in your diet? Can you eat sweet potatoes? Brown rice?

  6. Hi everyone, my husband was just diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in June of this year. Does anyone else know of other men who have this? It just wrecks havoc on his overall well-being and it hurts me so much to see him this way. He is currently seeing an Endocrinologist and is on meds but I see that diet really affects him. Meds aren’t enough. Any thoughts, suggestions, advice? Thanks!
    Stephanie

  7. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    This morning a Facebook friend shared a status of one of her friends talking about gluten and thyroid problems. I took note. My thyroid has been one cranky mess for the last 15 years. I did have a three year period where things were going well and my levothyroxine was significantly reduced. But eventually things started going back the opposite direction. For the last year and a half we have been increasing and increasing and changing from generic to brand to Armour and increasing some more. Every time I go back for my labs, it’s still off.
    So this Facebook post was mentioning gluten. And a light bulb went off! You know those three great years? Those years, as part of my attempts to lose weight, I ate clean and had very little gluten. I wasn’t trying to be gluten free, it just sorta worked out that way. But I eventually stopped eating that way.
    And now I find this series of articles and it all makes sense! I see light at the end of the tunnel!

  8. Hi, got diognosed with Graves’s in Jan and now with Hashi. Please advise as I am so confused with what to eat and what not to eat as the comunication from my specilist has been very vague.

  9. I am confused. I was told in September that I have Hashi’s. When I was 17 I had several growths removed from my throat. I never took any type of medicine after the operation. Now, 50 years later I discovered the nodules were back. I had them removed and my left thyroid because it had several cysts on it. I am now on daily medication for the rest of my life. My doctor only told me to cut back on my carbs. I don’t feel , no joint issues, or tiredness. After reading info about Hashi’s, I went on a gluten free diet. I saw no difference in how I felt after a month, so I went off of it. I continue to read that I should go gluten free, and there are many foods that I shouldn’t be eating. Both of my grown children have Celiac Sprue. I was tested at that time and told that I do not have it. I am not sure what I hold be eating. Any thoughts? I feel like I should see another doctor for guidance or can you help me?

  10. A recent xray discovered two internal hernias at the top of my stomach! Could this be termed leaky gut? I have been taking medication for hashimoto disease for four years and also require a vitamin D supplement. Should a person take iodine supplements to assist?

  11. I just found out that I have hasitmotos. It started with nodules on my throat which were removed. I am in my 60s and had some removed when I was 17. Both times, no signs of cancer. The doctor removed my left thyroid because of a large number of cysts. Both of my adult children have celiac spruce. I was tested and told that I did not have it. I have read about so many people going gluten free, so I went on a gluten free diet. I can’t see any difference. I don’t feel bad and am not tired all the time. I was only told to cut back on my carbs. I walk two miles a day, at least six days a week and go to the gym three times a week. So, my question is….. Does everyone with Hashi’s disease need to go gluten free?

  12. Hi Kim, you are so right!
    I’ve had Hashis diagnosed for 12 years now. Taking Synthroid helped feel normal after two years. I’ve had Different doctors, endocrinologists but no one had ever addressed my diet. Recently I saw a Naturopath for frozen shoulder, when he found out about my Hashimotos he forgot about my shoulder and began to address my gut. After 13 blood sample tubes for testing, he said I have a Leaky Gut Syndrome and wants to put me on a strict cleansing for a month. That means Colonics, diet, herbal supplements and PT of some sort. He wants me to take a month off work, drink more water, go to bed by 10pm. Reduce stress is what the goal is. I think he wants to jump start my gut. We tested for Celiac and I’m negative for that. But I’ve been reading a lot in the Internet and I’m blown away with all the info. Like Kim says, educate yourself and take care. There is hope.

    • Becky,
      Thanks for your story, it is helpful. My husband has hashi’s and I’m trying to figure out what to do about his diet…

  13. I have just been told this week by a physicians assistant that I have Hashimoto’s. She wants me gluten free for 6 weeks, repeat labs, and then return to see her in 8. I was diagnosed around 7 years ago with hypothyroidsim and have been taking Levoxyl (75mg). My family physician has checked my thyroid yearly and said it was doing fine even as recent as 4 months ago. His lab work showed that I had a very low vitamin D level that concerned him; however. Could this latest lab work be skewed due to a high volume intake of dairy, raw broccoli, raw carrots, peanuts, peanut butter? All of the things I have been eating prior to seeing physician’s assistant are so called “no-no’s”. Four weeks ago, I had a hysterectomy and actually was seeing this p.a. for hormone replacement when she found this new diagnosis. Or could my lab work be inaccurate due to a recent hysterectomy? Guess I do not want to accept this. Is there any chance people with Hashimotos can ever return to eating normal? In the last two days, I have found myself eating “nothing” as to eating “gluten free”. Are there any good websites that show diet suggestions, foods, etc? Any help appreciated…thanks!

    • Hi, I’d like to make a comment to Lisa. The normal standard American diet is crap. Our food is not natural, it’s genetically modified. Thank your corrupt politicians during the next election. If your child was sick you wouldn’t treat them like you do yourself. Be kind to yourself, take the time to educate yourself. The Internet is the greatest change to mankind since the printing press. Try Dr Mercola, or the book wheat belly. Their is a lot of great info out there. Did you know most people end up with some horrible disease. You have a great opportunity to go into your kitchen, and heal yourself with a healthy diet. Take up some meditation, watch some funny movies. Reduce your stress, teach yourself to cook and eat really healthy. Your life will never be the same you have a serious challenge! It’s not fair, well life’s not fair. Life is hard. be good to yourself, become a health nut, it’s a lot more fun to be a nut than always feeling icky.

  14. I have Hashimotos I had a large goiter. I asked my endo if a diet change would help she said she has never seen it help. My goiter got larger I couldn’t fall asleep at nite so uncomfortable. Endo told me the only treatment is thyroid removal surgery, consult with a surgeon. Boy was he eager to cut my throat. I decided to try something different. I changed my diet, and that changed my life! I quit glutin in all its many forms. My thyroid is its normal size. My neck is small again and beautiful. I feel healthy and happy. I saw my endo she was mean and rude to me she never even asked what I did. I won’t see her again. Be your own advocate. I hope I can help others recover the most beautiful gift in life. Health and Freedom!

    • I too have Hashimoto’s and I’m just starting my journey to trying to recapture my life through a healthy diet. Your recommendations and encouragements were very helpful to me. Your comments about your endo doctor bear out a statement my supportive husband uses. “A patient cured is a customer lost”. Sounds like this doctor is more concerned with her pocketbook than your health. Sadly, her kind is all too prevelant!

    • Kim,
      Does this mean you cut out all grains, even rice? My daughter was just diagnosed and has many symptoms. She has pretty much been gluten free but not free of all ‘cross reactive’ gluten foods. Do you eat any cross reactive foods like coffee, chocolate, oats, etc..
      Thanks!

    • Hi Kim, Your comments really connected with me and my families beliefs on how and what you feed your body being one major component to overall health. Also rest, no stress and a positive happy frame of mind greatly affects health as we’ve been told many times. My son is a retired Micro Biologist and heavily researches foods and how they interact with the body. And positive vs. negative thoughts and how it changes your cells. I believe food is our medicine or can be if we chose that path. He has been following Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and his recommendations for a Nutrient -rich eating plan. At the same time I was worried about not getting enough leafy greens and other veggies in my diet daily. Who wants to cook all of that and make the time. I didn’t and wasn’t. So after ready JF’s “Eat To Live” cookbook and buying a Vitamix, I now throw everything raw Organic, but the kitchen sink and feel great My son’s science and research, along with adding these delicous drinks made good common sense for me. I’m at the gym 4 days a week, dancing, stretching and light weights at 67 yrs. old and feel great and no one can believe my age. I have been recently diagnosed with Hashimotos and just started getting into the swim of it. I don’t have many symptoms and have always eaten a healthy regular diet of organic meat, chicken more fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty simple and I cook. My downfall is wine, so I’m monitoring it carefully. I’ll share later what is going on, when I know more. Oh, check out JF Youtube. I think you will enjoy it. Good health, vitality, peace and happiness.

      • If you want more greens and a nice snack, I like to make chips from them. I buy huge bags of pre-washed and cut greens (especially kale) and lay them on a baking sheet. Don’t cram them on but they can touch. I leave them out for a while so they are nice a dry. This is mindless and requires no effort Just leave them sitting out. When they are dry, I spray them with a bit of oil, sprinkle on salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and nutritional yeast (you can use Parmesan cheese instead.) Bake at 300 for 25 minutes if you want them fast. Eat them warm from the oven. I prefer to do oven drying instead of cooking, and go low and slow. I like about 200 degrees for an hour or so. If you have two cookie sheets in the oven, you have to rotate them, putting the one on the bottom rack on the top rack after 1/2 and hour for the long cook method.

        Some people like to buy a flatter kale in a bunch, rinse it and dry it, remove the stems, and cook it in larger pieces. The instructions are the same otherwise.

    • My Endo would not look at my enlarged hurting joints. Kept her fingers on her keyboard facing her screen. My hashimoto antibodies went from 500 Nov ’13 to over 2200 in April’14. The Thyroid meds i have reactions to. So im told. Im complicated, they will just keep running blood samples every few months . not treating me.
      So i asked her ‘So basically im screwed ,i cant be treated’? She said “yes”
      I havenot been back…my new book Doctor do Little…(charge alot and dont give a damn)

      • This a disorder of our immune system not the gland it self bull Crap u just need to do oils to lower your TPO level then u might improve that way works for me

  15. I have hashimotos I had a large goiter. My endo said only treatment thyroid removal. I asked her about diet she said she’s never seen it help. I quit glutin in all it many forms. My thyroid shrunk to normal my neck is beautiful I feel happy I feel healthy I’m still on levothyroxine. Saw my endo she was rude and mean to me. I won’t see her again. Please educate yourself your family and friends any one who will listen about the dangers of genetically modified foods. There in all processed foods. And they have never been safety tested. Thank your politicians for taking bribes and endangering everyone’s health with this gm garbage. Obama and his family only eat non gm foods and organic vegetables.

  16. Hi,

    I hope you can answer a fairly simple question. I went on an elimination/low acid/anti-inflammatory diet of no soy, grains (except brown rice), dairy, nightshades, citrus, refined sugars to try to address my fatigue and to lose weight. I did it perfectly for two weeks, then had some imperfect days during the holidays, but basically stuck with it for 6 weeks and have noticed no improvement in anything. In fact, my mood has been terrible, my fatigue is worse, an my mental clarity has suffered such that I’m burning half the meals I cook now and dropping things. Is there any explanation for this sort of diet not working? I thought it was supposed to help anyone.

    Thanks!

    • I went through a similar experience. I’ve since discovered that I do much better if I try to eat a fairly well-rounded diet with an emphasis on optimizing thyroid metabolism. Make sure you get enough iodine and selenium. Gluten-free didn’t help me at all. (I ended up with low t3.) In fact, whole grain breads and pasta, paired with a source of protein, have helped my mood and energy levels. I also eat lots of fruits and veggies, a small amount of dairy, and a handful of nuts now and then. I’m almost 50 and I’m in perimenopause, but I feel much better than I did for the years I tried to go gluten-free. I truly believe we’re all different and what works for some may not work for others. I do try to stay away from junk food and think that’s a good idea for everyone. Good luck!

    • Hi Amy

      Just to say that you have taken the words right out of my mouth!

      I have read Dr Mark Hymans great book Ultramind and was quite excited that it would help my Hashimtotos. I followed the diet eliminating sugars, gluten and dairy only to find my weight crashed by half a stone (I’m not a big person) and my energy has been in the basement ever since! I have all the hyothyroid symptoms like you and am soooo disappointed as I really thought this diet would help and the reverse seems to be true! I wonder what the reason is?

  17. Simple Truths organic products are wonderful! Also eggs have Soy if there not Organic shop at a health food section or store..get the right vitamins and protein powders! Vitamin D3 is crucial I take 2000 d3 and it’s also in my supplement 2600 is average. Detox and get on Paleo diet! Distilled water helps but do not drink for months as it can remove good minerals u need. Do not eat foods like fish with Mercury or shower without a filter!

    • I have Hashimotos also along with celiac disease and pernicious anemia.just wondering what kind do protein powder is good for us?

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