Your Thyroid is Normal But You're Still Exhausted, Forgetful & Gaining Weight

So you’ve been told your thyroid is normal but you are still exhausted, forgetful & gaining weight?

You’ve been told your thyroid is normal but you suspect it isn’t. Did you know your immune system could be causing these symptoms 7 years before they show up on your ‘thyroid test’?

Antibodies from the immune system have been found attacking the thyroid up to 7 years before it was severe enough to cause the need for medication (Caturegli, et al., 2013).

That’s 7 long years of weight gain, fatigue, illness, joint pain & moodiness.  Having lived through this myself it was 7 years too long!

The good news is it is possible to determine your antibody levels with a simple blood test – it’s almost like looking into a crystal ball and seeing your thyroid future .

If you are experiencing any of the following it might be worthwhile checking your immune system’s treatment of your thyroid to get a head start on healing:

•    feeling more tired than you think you should be considering how much you are sleeping

•    gaining or losing weight even though you have not changed how you are eating or exercising

•    are feeling anxious or depressed

•    Someone in your biological family has an autoimmune disease.

Whilst you may not be able to access these tests via medicare without a confirmed abnormal TSH test you can order them easily via your naturopath if you opt to pay for them yourself. 

The tests for the assessment of your immune system’s impact on your thyroid when low thyroid function is suspected

Thyroperoxidase antibody test (anti-TPO)

Antibodies to thyroglobulin test (TgAb).

If you suspect something is wrong make sure you know your risks, get the right tests & have an effective solution tailored to your body.

In health,

Sonia x

Reference:

Caturegli, P., De Remigis, A., Chuang, K., Dembele, M., Iwama, A., & Iwama, S. (2013). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: celebrating the centennial through the lens of the Johns Hopkins hospital surgical pathology records. Thyroid23(2), 142-150.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2014.01.007

Naomi Chambers
Could Using Your Grandma's Crockery Help You Lose Weight?

Even as the scientific knowledge on causes of excess weight increases our own weight is not decreasing.  Look around any work site, office or supermarket and you can see the proof behind the statistics telling us we have been getting fatter.

Scarily this trend is reflected with our kids.  Recent population studies have found that between 21% – 27% of school-aged children in Australia are overweight or obese.  One quarter of our youth with an uncertain future marred by escalating health problems (1, 2, 8)!

Whilst the evidence on excess weight tells us categorically weight loss is not as simple as the old ‘calories-in versus calories-out’ debate it is certainly one piece of the jigsaw puzzle on obesity (5).  So how do we lower calories without having the burden of weighing, measuring, recording and calculating everything we eat and drink?

I was pondering this problem recently while unpacking my Nonna’s old dinner set and I was struck by how much smaller the dinner plates, bowls and cups were from what I use every day. Even more remarkable was the comparison with my Great Grandma’s afternoon tea dishes which I vividly remember being used to serve delicious home-made treats.  If I hadn’t the clear memory of their use I would have sworn it was a child’s play set they were so small!

The size difference was so marked I started thinking about the link between the ever increasing size in our dinnerware, my own family’s weight timeline from my tiny Great Grandma through to me now and if anyone had researched the correlation between plate size and weight size. 

I jumped on the ‘net to check out the science. Our plates have increased approximately 44% in size from only the 1980s to early 2000s (3) and a correlation has been found between the increased size of plates, portions and calories and the rise in obesity rates in Western society (9).

So this morning for breakfast I decided to use my Nonna’s plates.  For the past 12 months I have been eating a specific sized piece of protein (meat or fish) because I want to take advantage of protein’s ability to make me feel full for longer and reduce hideous 3.30pm sugar cravings.

This morning was one of the first times in 12 months I couldn’t finish my breakfast.  Seeing how piled-up the food was on my Nonna’s plate instantly made me feel like I was over-stuffing myself, and, remarkably I simply just stopped eating when I felt full.

Straight back to the research!  Now I wanted to find out if there was research on smaller plate sizes leading to less calories consumed. Some studies have indeed found increasing plate sizes led to an increase in the portion size of foods and calories eaten (4, 6). 

However these findings need to be balanced against the conclusion of a controlled environment study on differing sized plates on food where no change in food and calorie intake was linked to changing plate sizes (7).

Interestingly the study that found plate size was not linked to calories consumed had excluded participants if they were overweight / obese or had a disordered attitude to food. What if the conclusion of the study is linked to the categories of people it excluded? 

From my experience clients who easily maintain a balanced and healthy weight typically have the ability to regulate their food intake regardless of where and when they are dining. Potentially this might mean these effortlessly slim folk automatically eat the calories they need without regard to what plate it is presented on.

I have found people who struggle to keep their weight down tend to have a higher chance of a disordered relationship with food. Potentially these people may be influenced by the appearance of food on their plate.

Any recommendations for people wanting to lose weight?  Using smaller plates, bowls and mugs might provide instant and daily portion control with no effort.

What have I personally implemented on my weight-loss adventure? Well rather than throwing away the cracked and incomplete dinner set from my Nonna I have decided to use it for everyday meals.

And I ended up eating my left-over brekkie for lunch and at 4pm I’m still travelling strong with no sugar cravings!

No weight loss even though you have reduced calories

Portion control or ‘calories-in versus calories-out' is only one part of the jigsaw puzzle of shedding fat.  If you are struggling to lose weight despite reducing your food intake and or increasing your exercise it is time to explore the hormonal drivers of weight. 

There are many hormonal reasons why weight loss is difficult including but not limited to:

Insulin - the way your body responds to sugars

Thyroid - how much energy your body actually burns

Leptin - the foods you crave and how full you feel

Cortisol - how your body responds to your stress levels and if you lose weight or gain weight when stressed

Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone - your female / male hormone levels may influence the way your body burns your food intake and calories.

So if reducing portion size does not change your weight don’t give up there may be a hormone hijacking your efforts!

In health,

Sonia x

References:

1. Booth, M.L., et al., NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey, (2004), Summary Report. 2006. Sydney: NSW Department of Health.

2. Hands, B., et al., Physical Activity and Nutrition Levels in Western Australian Children and Adolescents: Report. 2004. Perth:  Western Australian Government.

3. Klara, R. (2004). Table the issue. Restaurant Business, 103, 14–15.

4. Ledikwe, J.H., Ello-Martin, J.A. & Rolls, B.J. (2005). Portion sizes and the obesity epidemic.  The Journal of Nutrition, 134(4), 905-909.

5. Redman, L.M. & Ravussin, E. (2011). Caloric restriction in humans: Impact on physiological, psychological and behavioural outcomes.  Antioxidant Redox Signal, 14(2), 275-287. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3253

6. Rolls, B.J., Morris, E.L. & Roe, L.S. (2002). Portion size of food affects energy intake in normal-weight and overweight men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76(6), 1207-1213.

7. Rolls, B. J., Roe, L. S., Halverson, K. H., & Meengs, J. S. (2007). Using a smaller plate did not reduce energy intake at meals. Appetite, 49(3), 652-660.

8. Wake, M., Hardy, P., Canteford, L. Sawyer, M. & Carlin, J.B. (2006). Overweight, obesity and girth of Australian preschoolers: prevalence and socio-economic correlates. International Journal of Obesity (London), 31(7):1044-1051.

9. Young, L.R. & Nestle, M. (2002). The contribution of expanding portion sizes to the US obesity epidemic. American Journal of Public Health, 92(2), 246–249.

Naomi Chambers
Infertility, Miscarriage & Thyroid

I wish more than anything in the world I had found a thyroid-literate naturopath & doctor before I suffered through miscarriages & spent thousands and thousands of dollars on IVF. It’s one of the reasons why I went back to college for 4 years of full time study to become a naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist myself & why I am so passionate about supporting women with thyroid issues.

Hypothyroidism is the 2nd most common condition affecting women of reproductive age. The terrible tragedy is the pregnant woman with hypothyroidism has an increased risk miscarriage and other major gestational problems, that’s why. If you know someone trying to fall pregnant who suspects they may be hypothyroid or is experiencing repeated miscarriages give them the gift of a lifetime by encouraging them to seek a thyroid literate medical professional and naturopath to support their journey to bring a new life into this world.

In Health,

Sonia x

References:

Benhadi, N., Wiersinga, W. M., Reitsma, J. B., Vrijkotte, T. G. M., & Bonsel, G. J. (2009). Higher maternal TSH levels in pregnancy are associated with increased risk for miscarriage, fetal or neonatal death. European Journal of Endocrinology, 160(6), 985-991. 

Poppe, K., Velkeniers, B., & Glinoer, D. (2008). The role of thyroid autoimmunity in fertility and pregnancy. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 4(7), 394.

Naomi Chambers
Energy-Boosting, Craving-Busting Snacks

Do you find you are looking for something to pep you up to get through the day?  Is the diet coke / coffee and chocolate afternoon snack more than the occasional go-to food?

I was talking fatigue and craving-busting strategies with my gorgeous friend Leah who is a mum to 2 active boys (3yo & 18months), a professional singer with a busy performing schedule and a part-time student.  Leah was asking me for snack ideas that were portable, affordable, healthy and most important of all helped her juggle all her daily balls…. challenge accepted. 

Super Fast Grab ‘n Go

Here are my favourite grab ‘n go fatigue busting snacks.  I call them grab ‘n go because there is no cooking and very little preparation so if you are like my friend Leah and need to pack a whole lot of activity into your day before you race out the front door throw some of these in your bag and go:

  • Banana & 10 walnut halves. Natures snack food, perfectly portable.

  • Whole carrot stick (chopped in half or quarters if you are feeling fancy) used to scoop out your preferred nut butter.

  • Slice up an apple and smear a little of that left-over nut butter on your slices – yum!

  • Tin of sustainably fished salmon or tuna emptied into a crisp lettuce leaf and throw in a chopped tomato if you have time and a knife. Choose Cos or Iceberg lettuce for the best result.  Wrap the fish and tomato up like a parcel in a couple of leaves and munch away.  Best served with many napkins to catch runaway dribbles.

  • Celery boats. Take a celery stick and get into the groove pressing as much soft cheese as it will hold when tightly packed. Try salty goats cheese or creamy cottage cheese and sprinkle with a touch of paprika for smokiness or turmeric for Indian flavour.

When You Are Set Up For Success

If I know I have a busy week I make a couple of different meals at the same time either the night before or on the weekend:

  • Oven-roasted chicken drumstick eaten cold dipped in tomato salsa (I’ll usually roast a whole chicken and then use it throughout the week in a number of meals more on this money saving idea in a later post).

  • Leftover chicken meat shredded and stuffed into ½ an avocado.

  • Hard-boiled eggs are fantastic, portable, power-packs of protein and  followed with a whole cucumber eaten like an apple raw and crunchy.

  • And my personal go-to-snack that I always have a container of in my fridge… turkey meatballs.  I pair a turkey meatball with a crisp lettuce leaf and a generous dollop of avocado for savory goodness or with a slice of strawberry or a blueberry for tart sweetness.

Turkey MeatBalls

•          500 grams (1 pound) of turkey mince

•          1/2 teaspoon ground/minced/grated ginger

•          1 teaspoon ground sage

•          Season with salt and pepper to taste I use 1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/4 pepper

•          Coconut oil to cook with

In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, ginger, salt, sage and black pepper until well blended – I use my hands. Form the minced meat into balls or flat patties.  Should make 10 small serves or 5 very large serves.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add patties and brown on both sides turning until cooked through.  Break open one and check it is no longer pink in the middle because no one needs to be spending their time off work being sick. Based on a receipe originally found on Brenda Watson Allergy Free Site.

If you want to check to see if your snacks measure up here’s what needs to go into them:

•          Ingredient #1 = Protein  

Protein improves appetite control so you don’t keep going back for more snacks until dinner-time rolls around.  Protein also seems to modulate food hedonics, that is, cravings knocked-on-the-head (1).

•          Ingredient #2 = Carbohydrate

Complex carbohydrates that give you sustained energy are the best choice to pair with your protein base.

Emergency Help For Chocoholics

If you find that you just cannot stop eating chocolate or sweets once you start have you tried short-circuiting the urge with the herb Gymnema sylvestre (say gym – neema)?

Its unusual name is derived from a Hindu word “Gurmar” meaning “destroyer of sugar” and it is typically used with overweight/obese people to prevent sugar cravings and in traditional cultures with the symptoms of diabetes (2).

What I love about Gymnema is when you put a drop of it on your tongue whatever you eat afterwards does not taste sweet and it becomes pretty unpalatable and easy to stop. It is thought the peptide molecule gurmarin blocks the ability to taste sweet flavours and reduces sweet cravings (2).  Gymnema is useful in an emergency when your willpower is failing and somehow you have found your hand lodged in the sweets jar or your mouth overflowing with chocolate.

Before I sign-off and munch on a carrot stick with almond butter I want to share with you that in a 2014 study on overweight/obese teenage girls they found that those who had a protein rich breakfast had far less food cravings for the rest of the day (1).  If you are grabbing for a regular afternoon snack it may be related to what you ate for breakfast.  Something to think about and explore.

I’d love to hear your favourite energy-boosting, craving-busting snack! 

In health,

Sonia x

References:

1. Hoertel, H. A., Will, M. J., & Leidy, H. J. (2014). A randomized crossover, pilot study examining the effects of a normal protein vs. high protein breakfast on food cravings and reward signals in overweight/obese “breakfast skipping”, late-adolescent girls. Nutrition Journal13(1), 80.

2. Saneja, A., Sharma, C., Aneja, K. R., & Pahwa, R. (2010). Gymnema sylvestre (Gurmar): A review. Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2(1), 275-284.

Naomi Chambers