Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:
Originally published on 13th August 2016 Last updated on 6th April 2019
Note: Since overcoming my disordered eating and embracing a body positive approach, I want to just leave a statement that: weight is not the be all and end all. It doesn’t make you any less worthy of love, of happiness or anything else in life. Weight gain is a natural part of life – bodies change all the time – but I do appreciate that for many, the weight gain associated with hypothyroidism can be another frustrating reminder of how it affects your life and takes control from you. I now prefer to focus on feeling healthy inside, by having reduced thyroid symptoms and feeling healthy and happy, rather than focusing solely on weight.
Weight gain. It’s the first symptom many people who don’t have hypothyroidism, think of when they hear the term ‘thyroid problem’. For some patients, it can be one of the most upsetting symptoms and side effects of poor thyroid function.
Thyroid disease is often used as a joke or a scapegoat for weight gain. People throw it around, and as such, it’s not taken very seriously.
Many people think hypothyroidism is just an excuse for being overweight, but weight gain is a legitimate symptom of an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, along with many others.
How Did I Stabilise My Weight?
The key thing in improving how I felt physically but also stabilising my weight, was getting my thyroid levels optimal. By correcting your thyroid levels (to include TSH, Free T3, Free T4), you tend to correct your sluggish metabolism. Why is this? Because the main purpose of thyroid hormones, produced by the thyroid gland, is to ensure the metabolism is running properly.
When we don’t have enough thyroid hormone, our metabolism doesn’t work properly. Therefore, people with an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism can have a slow metabolism, with symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, such as cold intolerance (from the lack of heat made) and extreme tiredness and weight gain (from the lack of calories burned to make energy). Therefore, when you correct thyroid hormone levels, normal metabolism should resume, including an evening out of weight.
Getting My Levels Optimal
Quite simple, to get my levels optimised, I switched thyroid medication. T4-only Levothyroxine was leaving me inadequately treated, so I switched to NDT, which raised my levels to optimal.
I also had to order some extra testing as my GP wouldn’t initially test the full thyroid panel which was very frustrating. A UK option is shown here and a worldwide site here.
Whilst T4-only meds may work for some people, they also don’t for a lot of others. Many doctors, endocrinologists etc. won’t acknowledge this, but the fact is, a lot of us have conversion issues and just don’t seem to get better on Synthroid or Levothyroxine. This is worth exploring if you’re on T4-only medication like Synthroid or Levothyroxine. You need a full thyroid panel testing to check if your thyroid medication is adequately treating you.
I also implemented other lifestyle changes too, though. NDT isn’t a magic pill or a diet pill. I also avoid junk food, and don’t cut calories but instead just focus on eating healthily and listening to what my body tells me makes it feel more sluggish or function more optimally.
I tend to base my meals and snacks around protein, which keeps me fuller for longer and balances my blood sugar. You can read more about blood sugar imbalances here. Basically, I made sure to have protein with every meal and snack, so meat and nuts in particular became staples, with some cheese, too.
I drink at least two litres of water a day to promote proper bodily functions and good hydration. Herbal and fruit teas are also my friend. Water can be flavoured too, with fresh fruit placed in it, or a squirt of lemon juice. Carbonated, flavoured water can also be a good substitute for fizzy drinks and sodas.
I’ve also been trying to improve my fitness, without overdoing it and making my adrenal fatigue (note: it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction) worse. Each time you exercise, the adrenals pump out extra cortisol, and with mine already being high as it is, I could do without that! So I keep it to walking and basically do as much as my body will comfortably allow each day.
I’ve also addressed my vitamin levels and worked on raising my low vitamin D, taking Selenium to boost my thyroid function, among others.
Do remember that dieting, overexercising and other unhealthy habits only tend to make you more hypothyroid and place more stress on the body, which can even impair weight loss or cause more weight gain. Instead of focusing on ‘looking healthy’ by reaching a certain weight or size, I encourage you to focus on ‘feeling healthy’ instead. For me, this has meant being able to walk further and for longer as the year has gone on, without getting tired. Going up the stairs in my house without being out of breath. Not having brain fog or poor mental health.
What are your experiences with this?
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
The book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, which builds on this article in detail. Reclaim your thyroid healthy life.
Susan KingDecember 7, 2020 at 9:13 pm
I get my private prescription for NDT in the UK from County Health.
DianaFebruary 23, 2019 at 12:35 am
I take prescribed NDT. So much better now that I see a naturopathic doctor. I would love to lose weight though. I have a busy schedule, a stressful life and honestly would rather take some down time when I can instead of working out. The diet is where I could use some help. I have a hard time figuring out what to eat and good easy recipes.
Rachel HillFebruary 23, 2019 at 8:31 am
Hi Diana, this book makes it incredibly easy – https://www.theinvisiblehypothyroidism.com/book-review-the-30-minute-thyroid-cookbook-125-healing-recipes-for-hypothyroidism-and-hashimotos-by-emily-kyle-ms-rdn-cdn-clt/
Valerie MillerSeptember 9, 2018 at 5:10 pm
Hi am I right in thinking that NDT has to be sourced privately and that full panel blood tests should be done privately if the doctor refuses to do this for you. Thanks
Rachel HillSeptember 9, 2018 at 5:20 pm
NDT can be prescribed – even on the NHS – but it can be tricky to get it prescribed. Full panel tests should always be done alongside thyroid medication, and these can be ordered yourself by an online lab if your doctor refuses.
MNovember 12, 2020 at 11:58 am
Where can you successfully and safely order NDT online. NHS refuse any notion of this.
Rachel HillNovember 17, 2020 at 7:26 pm
Hi, I’m sorry to hear about you struggling to find someone who will prescribe NDT. GP’s don’t tend to prescribe this as it requires a referral to an endocrinologist at the very least usually (in the UK at least). Other types of practitioners such as functional medicine doctors can be more useful for prescribing this.
When it comes to self-sourcing medication online, I cannot share sources due to liability, but they are shared a lot in online forums and support groups by other thyroid patients. However, it is indeed getting harder to self-source these medications as they are being shut down and effectively operating ‘underground’.
NDT is generally easier to get prescribed in the US compared to the U.K., but I’m not sure about your specific location.
You may be able to find a more open practitioner for prescribing NDT by following the resources listed here: https://www.theinvisiblehypothyroidism.com/how-to-find-a-good-medical-professional-for-your-thyroid-condition/