Why a lowered-carb diet is my new healthy: auto-immune Thyroiditis and insulin sensitivity

I know I haven’t really posted a whole lot on here in forever. I’ve been cooking up a storm but I’ve been conflicted about writing for a long time now. You see, I’ve taken up a lowcarb lifestyle for many years and I know that’s considered controversial in this day and age. For myself, it was the right choice.

About 3 years ago I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and with thyroid disease. Both, in my case, were hereditary as I’ve never been one to eat huge amounts of starch or sugar and had kept my weight mostly under control my whole life. That is, until a few years ago when my thyroid took a nose dive and I rapidly gained weight despite tightening my diet, removing all processed foods, starches, and sugars, and increasing my cardio and weight training routines.

Even with those changes the weight gain increased and, for a time, I gained a pound a day. I’ve never been tiny but at 5’9″ and with a lot of muscle I carried my 135 lb well. I was shocked when I ballooned up to over 200 lbs in less than 6 months. My doctors were at a loss and, looking back, I can’t believe no one thought to check my thyroid. I even brought it up to a few of my doctors and they told me it must be my diet without even ordering a blood test.

I lowered my food intake even further. The weight gain continued and all I had for my efforts was weakness and fainting spells. Eventually, I took matters into my own hands and begged an endocrinologist (thyroid specialist) to see me. I was tested and put on synthetic thyroid hormone. The first 20 pounds dropped off almost instantly in the first two months.

That said, quite a bit of damage to my body was done. It is possible that along with my auto-immune thyroiditis there are some other unresolved auto-immune issues going on. I live with chronic inflammation that seems tied to a sensitivity to starches and sugars. Basically, when I eat rice, bread, sugar, etc. I have pain and swelling. The swelling is bad enough that you can see it in my hands and face. The pain and inflammation started several years before I was diagnosed with thyroid disease but my doctors say I’ve likely had problems with my thyroid my whole life. I’ve also had problems with my blood sugar my whole life so it isn’t a huge leap to think that maybe the three, seemingly separate issues, are tied together.
I started this blog as a way to teach picky eaters to be more adventurous. It chronicled my personal adventure in getting at least one picky eater to try a larger and larger variety of things, my husband whom I affectionately refer to as Thogg in this blog. Now, I have to cook for myself too.

From here on out, most of my recipes will only include trace amounts of processed starches or sugars. I do still cook for friends and family, so there will be the occasional non-low carb recipe. For the most part, my diet these days consists of lots of non-starchy veggies, protein, and fat. These days, fat is my fuel and I don’t shy away from it. I’m also no longer afraid of saturated fats and will often include fair amounts of butter or other full-fat dairy and cream.

I will say though, that my recipes will not include a carb count but given that I rely mostly on fresh and unprocessed foods you should easily be able to do some calculations for yourself if you so choose. For those of you on phase 1 of a diet like Atkins or for those of you who are in the first stages of South Beach or any other ketosis type diet most of my recipes will possibly not be suitable. I’m at what most people would consider to be the maintenance or final phase of a lowered carb lifestyle. I also work out and do cardio regularly (6-7 days a week), which has further allowed me to increase my carbohydrate intake.

I no longer count carbs but rely on my body to tell me if I’ve overdone it. For myself, I’ll notice pain and inflammation the next day if I overindulge. Even before that though, I also notice a huge uptick in my hunger within a few hours of eating a meal that triggers an insulin response. That’s usually my first indication that I’ve had a meal that was too heavy on carbs and didn’t have enough fat and fiber to offset it.

That said, the focus of my recipes will still be on eating foods that are fresh and unprocessed and will include recipes with flavors and techniques from around the world.

I’m ready to being sharing my culinary adventure again. The road may be a bit different than before, but I’m excited about the possibilities and I hope you are too.

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