Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Numbers Don't Lie

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So I've been doing the Trim Healthy Mama diet for two weeks now.  Last week I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to have my blood work done both so I could have a baseline to work from and also to see if there were any hormonal problems going on that I needed to address.  I had the normal tests run plus I had my thyroid, estradiol, progesterone, and vitamin D checked.

The funny thing about blood work is that even when you think you are doing fine and feel fine, sometimes things aren't actually fine.  Like this time.  First my thyroid results came in showing that my T3 and T4 levels were low.  But my doctor said we were going to wait to see how my vitamin D level was before treating me for hypothyroidism.  I sort of scoffed at this, assuming my D levels would be just fine because I take 1000 mgs of vitamin D every single day and have been for the past two years.

The joke was on me this time--my level was at 21.5!  Ugh!  Stupid, sunless, northern climate of Michigan!  I was instructed to start taking a whole lot more vitamin D every day and then we will retest everything in 6-8 weeks.  My mom asked me if I was getting out in the sun--I may have made a funny face in answer.  Um, right.  It has been either cold or raining for the past...six months.  No, I haven't pulled out my bikini and sunned myself lately.  Maybe in June.  In the mean time, mega doses of vitamins are my only hope for raising my levels to something bordering on normal.

During those three days while waiting for my results, I was busy researching hypothyroidism and possible treatments.  I am not a big fan of long term medicine unless it is really, truly necessary.  So I wanted to know if this was something I could treat with diet and exercise.  Because I have been doing this THM diet for a whole two weeks now.  If I committed myself to it for the long haul (like, forever), and lost my excess weight, would that be enough to "fix me?"

My research proved inconclusive.  While being at a good weight can help, it doesn't usually make the need for medicine obsolete.  Shoot.  But the good news is that my research also revealed that the way I am eating now is the optimal way to be eating if there is to be any hope of correcting my hormones without drugs.  All except for two things...

Caffeine.  (Insert big sigh)  Caffeine is bad, bad, bad for your thyroid.  And just about everything else.  I knew it was time to kiss my Diet Pepsi addiction good-bye; I have been working toward it for a few months anyway by cutting back slowly.  So after all my research, I knew it was time to kick the habit completely even though I love my pop.  Monday I went pop free.  It hurt.  Somehow I avoided the normal excruciating withdrawal headaches, but I definitely did not avoid the aspartame detox symptoms.  My legs have been achy for three days pretty much non-stop.  I have to take tylenol before bed just so I can sleep at night.  And I am so tired!  So very tired.  Sometimes I wonder at myself and how I let myself start drinking this death-in-a-can in the first place.

Which leads me to the second thing I should give up that is even harder than pop.

Wheat.  Double ugh.  I know it's bad for me.  I can tell when I overdose on wheat products and bloat up like a balloon.  When I eat a wheat laden meal--like pizza--and watch my hands become full of a flaming red rash and wake up with arthritic-feeling fingers.  But I am Italian and I LOVE my wheat.  For the past two weeks I have cut out almost all wheat products from my diet and it has made a HUGE difference in how I feel (minus the last three days).  My hands have cleared up.  I don't feel bloated and I don't wake up with aching fingers.  I have replaced my wheat lust with other alternatives--pancakes made from oats, cottage cheese and egg whites; flax meal wraps; sprouted Ezekiel bread which doesn't seem to cause me any discomfort at all; and xanthan gum or glucomannan as a thickener instead of flour.  All new things I've learned from THM.

I will probably never go completely wheat free, but I am limiting it to special occasions--like Grandma's lasagna.  Ain't nothing going to keep me away from that.  And the occasional slice of pizza when my willpower is overwhelmed by the smell of my very most favorite food in the whole world next to Grandma's lasagna.

So we will see.  I have two months to give this way of eating a good faith effort to see if it can fix my thyroid levels and bring them back to normal.  I have two months of taking higher doses of vitamin D to see if I can get my level back into the healthy range even without tanning in the sun every day.  I'm glad I had the blood work done so I could see where I'm at--and despite all this discouragement, it was really great to see that everything else looks excellent (no high cholesterol or out of control sugar levels here, thank you very much).  It all just served as further inspiration to keep on with eating better even when it gets challenging.  (Like this weekend when we have a family dinner and I will end up in a stare-down with the dessert.  Just say NO, Lisa.)

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