I haven’t written my health story on here yet, but suffice to say the last three years have been a bit of a witch hunt on my body. I read everything about everything in an attempt to find the magic diet that would cure my hypothyroid condition and Hashimotos (an autoimmune disorder). Spoiler: I never found it.
I tried many a diet: pescatarian, vegan, keto, gluten-free, sugar-free (including fruits and starchy veg), paleo, and an assortment of hacks I read for dealing with thyroid issues (i.e. no eggs, celery juice in the morning, no pork, etc.). All the diets sounded good when examined in isolation. They were clear, concise and promised a body that would feel the same. The problem was that I like to comparison shop…so I tried them all! I would research one heavily, try it, not see improvements, then go back to see what I had missed and go down the rabbit hole once again. I’d find another diet that would suggest the exact opposite and I kept hoping that one of them held the magic key that would make me feel like a healthy person again.
When you’re ill, all you want is for someone to tell you “Do this and you will be better”.
The food witch hunt was not a success. I didn’t find my way out of my thyroid problems with any of these diets, but I did find myself with a real eating disorder. Almost every food can be ‘bad’ if you read the right article – I was paranoid of spinach at one point, then broccoli…seriously! I felt paralysed when choosing what to eat. I also felt intensely deprived. The stress and isolation of feeling like I wasn’t allowed to be free with my eating took a huge toll on me and added to the stress of my existing health conditions.
So here’s my hit list of foods that I’ve been told at one point or another not to eat:
- Too much sugar
- The mental effect: I always get a slight depressive, end-of-the-world feeling the day after that can linger for a few days. I have to constantly remind myself that I’ve had alcohol and that it’s not reflective of my true reality
- Wine is so inflammatory for me and it makes me so sad! The social ritual of having a glass of red with friends was one of my favourite things, but I get hives and horrible hangovers. I didn’t have wine for almost a year and then tried ONE GLASS of biodynamic, organic Merlot and still had that tightness in my head feeling the next day (like an oncoming headache) accompanied with mild depression and anxiety. Just not worth it.
- Heavily GMO in North America (watch out!), but not in Australia (thank you, thank you)
- Used as a filler in most processed foods (as are soy and wheat), which leads you to inadvertently consume way more of than you are aware of. It’s a very good reason to never to consume processed food if you can help it!
- Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts…and kale (yes, kale) are said to interrupt thyroid hormone production.
- Full of hormones, allergens, and generally not good quality.
- I recently had a convo with a girl who did her farm work at a dairy farm that was an expensive, well known brand. She explained how everything was super clean and regulated, but the lives these cows live…it’s like watching a movie set in the future where humans are grown as body parts for other humans. No way for any living being to exist…even if its a ‘good’ farm. How can the milk they produce be of good quality to consume when they aren’t really living? The equivalent to eating vegetables grown in a garbage dump.
- Even when I wasn’t a healthy, conscious eater (one of my favourite things to eat way back when was chicken fingers!) I knew I couldn’t have milk. The day after having it I would immediately breakout and have that onset allergy feeling.
- Aside from the fact that this is basically an addictive candy for me (another issue altogether), most dried fruit is made with canola or some other not-good-for-you vegetable oil and preservatives. Even the organic ones – they’re sneaky like that.
- “Eggs also cause inflammation and allergies; feed viruses, bacteria, yeast, mold, Candida and other fungus; and trigger edema in the lymphatic system.” (page 281). This book lists eggs as a thyroid stressor (explanation of why is in the book), saying they feed viral infections and that viral infections are the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases. They were my main source of protein before (at least two a day), but after reading this I stopped eating them for months. I’ve since reintroduced them back into my diet, but always, ALWAYS organic…
- I once went on a date with a guy from the RSPCA (animal welfare organisation in Australia) and he said he would never, ever eat chicken or eggs because they are treated horrendously, even when the label says otherwise. I think unless you can find the chicken that laid those eggs and see for yourself that it’s happy, the chances are probably pretty low that what you’re eating is nutritious.
- Like corn, soy, and wheat, eggs are one of those things that are in a lot of processed foods. So you may be consuming more than you think – and they most definitely wouldn’t be organic.
- The salmon you find in Australia is pretty much always farmed and full of hormones
- Sashimi can have parasites…will never forget this story…WARNING: nightmares!
- Tuna has too much mercury 🙁
- Supposedly not good for insulin resistance because they have too much sugar (I am NOT ok with this, hah). The problem is that they’ve been bred over time to be sweeter and this has had some huge effects, like with these poor monkeys.
- Some are worse offenders than others. I’ll never forget watching an episode of Dr. Oz and hearing him say grapes are just little packages of sugar – that statement has haunted me for years…the things the mind holds onto. Berries are generally less sugary and more fibre, whereas melons, bananas, pears, and grapes (!) are sugar-ific.
- Creates an inflammatory response, even if you’re not coeliac. This is also like corn, soy, wheat, etc. where gluten is found in so many things that you are much more exposed to it than you probably know. The overexposure is what causes the sensitivity.
- If I ever eat bread ‘too much’ (like more than once in a day or multiple days in a row) I feel a distinct hungover effect, even with artisanal, organic breads. I can’t handle plain white sliced bread or french bread (sob) AT ALL and have immediate allergy flare ups.
- These can also be like corn, soy, wheat, gluten, etc. where the general overexposure when it’s used as filler leads to sensitivity issues. There’s also this.
Legumes (peanuts, beans, etc.)
- I definitely have a reaction to too much peanut butter (but how do you stop at one spoonful???), my skin breaks out and I feel sluggish the next day.
- Lectins and phytates are the big no-no associated with legumes, said to cause inflammation.
Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, etc.)
- Inflammatory – depending on the state of your gut.
- Inflammatory – high in omega-6.
- Called a virus aggregator by Medical Medium.
- My whole body has a weird reaction every time I eat pork products. I knew this, but I didn’t actually piece it together till I read the Medical Medium thyroid book…probably because I loved bacon so much. RIP pork.
- Bacon was just listed as a known carcinogenic by the WHO…eek.
Refined sugar and other sweeteners
- Duh, right? This includes honey, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, stevia…I do believe that the less we use to make things sweeter and the more we get accustomed to the natural sweetness of things as they are the better off we’ll be. The sweet high is the sneakiest addiction!
Vegetable oil, canola oil, palm oil, etc.
- I haven’t used these to cook in probably a decade, but they’re probably what’s used every time you eat out, buy a snack (hi dried fruit), etc.
It’s almost everything, right? At some point or another I have not eaten each of these things. It messed with my head, which in turn messed up my body even further. The result was that I became even more disconnected with myself. I didn’t know up from down, everything seemed like the enemy and I developed a lot of food related anxiety. It’s still there, but I’m very slowly trying to find my way back to myself and strengthen my intuition around eating.
So what do I eat now? How do I navigate this minefield? Well that’s for part 2…