At the start of the Paleo diet challenge, I was looking to test three things: First, if I could actually stick to a grain-free diet for a whole month. Second, if it would make me feel any different (more energy, perhaps?). And third, if it would make any difference in my usual blood test results for TSH, which impact the amount of thyroid supplement I take every day because of my Hashimoto’s.
I’m happy to report that the answers are yes, yes, and yes. Three for three!
I stayed true to my month-long challenge of eating a Paleo diet, specifically avoiding any grains like rice, corn or (the big one) wheat. It wasn’t always easy, but feel proud that I stuck it out to the very end. Now that I’ve had a few days to think about the experience, along with the most challenging parts, here are the top 5 positives:
1. I feel better.
I don’t feel dramatically different, unlike so many stories I read about life-changing results after trying a Paleo diet. For me, feeling better is more subtle and nebulous but I’ve noticed a definite difference. I feel lighter, even though the scale doesn’t reflect that. I also feel healthier.
2. It opened my eyes to new ingredients.
Before the challenge I was blissfully unaware of several Paleo-friendly ingredients, like coconut flour and almond flour, to use in baking. In particular, blanched almond flour rocks, and it is something I’ll be using regularly.
3. It increased my creativity in the kitchen.
It’s easy to fall back on tried and true dishes. In my case, this means answering the what’s-for-dinner question with a pasta or a stir-fry with noodles. Both of these are good, but they’re also kind of boring. With grains off-limits I was forced to get more creative, which was refreshing for the most part.
The three twists I particularly enjoyed were using cauliflower for ‘rice’ (or, when I got a little carried away with it in the food processor, ‘couscous’), using lettuce and cabbage as convenient wraps (fish tacos, Thai beef wraps), and using eggplant as a flatbread.
4. It made me more thoughtful about what I was eating.
I’m fairly aware of what I eat anyway, but the challenge made my food radar (my foodar?) razor sharp. My label reading became even more serious, as I looked for traces of wheat or peanuts that lurk in foods like soy sauce or other prepared foods, albeit in small amounts.
5. It did have an impact on my TSH level.
Now this is exciting: I had a blood test done a few days ago, which showed the level of TSH in my blood had dropped from 1.8 to 0.8. This is a good thing, as it means my body is absorbing the Synthroid more effectively. It’s not enough of a reduction to warrant a change in dosage (the normal reference range for TSH is wide, from 0.3 to 5.0), but it’s a step in the right direction.
So is it possible to reverse my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis with a Paleo diet?
Not in 31 days, in my case. I’m encouraged by the blood test result, though. For now, I’m saying goodbye to the Paleo diet but will aim to stay gluten-free, since the more reading I do the more research I find that connects gluten consumption to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. I will retake the blood test in a few months to see if there’s been any further change in my TSH levels, and will keep you posted with what I find.
That wraps it up the Paleo diet challenge. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’ve hoped you have enjoyed reading about it and trying some of the recipes.