Why I Began an Imperfect Paleo Diet Journey

In July, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). Your thyroid is a gland that stores and produces a thyroid hormone that is found throughout your body and controls your body’s metabolism as well as regulating many other body functions. I had all the classic symptoms that come with this health problem such as cold spells (Felt like I had hypothermia no matter how many blankets or layers of clothes I put on), extreme mood swings (My poor hubby), constant fatigue that has me just completely wiped out, I hadn’t lost any weight being 6 months postpartum (I exercise regularly and eat fairly well), and I honestly felt like something was not normal with my body. My mom was the one that encourage me to get tested because thyroid problems run in the family which includes herself.

After diagnoses from my labs, I was immediately put on a synthetic thyroid medication, 100mg of Levothyroxine. I was told that I would have to take this medication at the same time each morning before breakfast everyday for the rest of my life. I noticed a big difference in how I felt 4 weeks into taking the medication. I was feeling absolutely amazing! I felt like I had more energy, my cold spells went away as well as my extreme mood swings and I felt like myself again. Everything was great until 6 weeks into taking my medication.

One month ago, I started getting reoccurring headaches that increased in intensity each day, my nails were becoming super brittle, my hair was falling out in clumps, and my period was a week late. Immediately, I made a doctor’s appointment because clearly something was not right with my body. I was told to immediately split my pills in half which would be 50mg of Levothyroxine and to make an appointment for that week.

When I went into my appointment, I was fully prepared with a graphic organizer showing what has happened since going on medication. I had three columns that included: Things that didn’t change, Things that got better and Things that are now different. As I sat there and shared every detail of what was going on, I also just let it all out. I completely vented my frustrations and I was on my period at that time so it wasn’t a good mix. I broke down in the moment. The physician’s assistant thought I was depressed and tried getting me to go on an antidepressant. I have been depressed before when I had postpartum depression and I know what it’s like to be depressed. I know the difference between being completely frustrating and being depressed. I wasn’t drowning in emotion. I was simply a frustrated patient that just wants to get to the bottom of things and find a happy resolution to my health. She ordered labs to have my thyroid checked again and I had her order labs for Hashimoto’s disease as well. I’ve done some prior research since my hypothyroidism diagnosis and the two commonly go hand in hand.

After I had my labs done, I called the office and requested that a doctor review my results instead of the physicians assistant. I would have saw a doctor but the only immediate appointment available was one with a physician’s assistant. I now know better next time. When the doctor called me to give me my results, she told me that I crossed into being hyperthyroid (over active thyroid) and I have Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disease where your body attacks itself which in my case it’s my thyroid). She was so helpful, receptive and didn’t make me feel that I was crazy. She reassured me that if she could not help regulating my thyroid, she would not hesitate to refer me to an endocrinologist. She asked how I felt about cutting my medication in half and I told her that I rather work from the low end of dosage to my perfect fit than the opposite (I don’t want to experience those headaches ever again). I explained that at least we would know how my body reacts on a high and low end which will create a range to find my happy medium in between the two. Our conversation made me feel so much better than before and I plan on seeing her as my primary from now on. She was very receptive, answered my questions, had a plan discussed with me, and I sensed that she truly cared about my concerns and health overall.

Since I got validation that I have Hashimoto’s disease, I’ve heard and read that a paleo diet is extremely helpful in alleviating the symptoms of hypothyroidism and sometimes even reverses the problem completely. I found this information from research, social media accounts of those that have the disease and I even talked to someone in my husband’s side of the family that was diagnosed awhile ago. With this information, I made the decision to move forward with a paleo style diet because I want to feel like myself again. With that being said, I knew that I had to be the one in control if this was going to be a lifestyle change. I have to do on my own terms and wean my way in so I can navigate this new adventure on my own by finding what works and doesn’t work for me.

So far, it has been one month of embarking on my paleo diet adventure and I feel like I’m doing pretty damn well. I’ve eliminated all dairy, gluten, processed foods, sugar and all but one type of legume (peanuts). I have an extreme love for PB and I can cut it out for 30 days but it’s something that I cannot do for life. I’d say that I’m about 90% paleo right now. I am not perfect and nor do intend to be but all I can do is try my best. And, that is exactly what I’m doing.

Below, I created my own questions along with their answers regarding my diet shift that could give you an idea of my approach, benefits and other aspects of my first month of paleo.

How did I know where to begin?

I’ve been following the Whole30 on Instagram for awhile now and I have the book as well. I’ve been reading and using it as a resource as well as other paleo and autoimmune protocol social media accounts. Also, I’ve purchased an autoimmune resource ebook bundle with many recipes and guides to eating an autoimmune protocol diet.

Why have I not begun a Whole30 or started an autoimmune protocol diet?

Like I said before, I want to approach paleo on my own terms. When I’m ready, I’d love to begin with an autoimmune protocol diet for 30 days which goes beyond a paleo diet. Basically, you eliminate all sensitive foods from your diet which resets your metabolism to get rid of your leaky gut. After 30 days, you reintroduce various foods by paying attention how your body responds to that specific type of food. From there, I’d reintroduce those foods by shifting into a Whole30 for a month which is a paleo diet.

Is eating paleo expensive?

Honestly, I feel like we’ve been spending the same amount of money but now it’s on more fresh fruits, veggies and nuts. Each time we go, I get more of the staples and I’m building up our supply of things that would last longer such as coconut oil and coconut amino acids. For meats, this is easy for us because we get a half a cow from my hubby’s coworker’s family farm each year so we have a shit ton of beef. Chicken, we get the no antibiotics from Sam’s Club but we have been looking at another local farm to purchase them from. We get our pork and fish from Wegman’s and they always have such a nice selection of meat.

How do I manage to eat paleo with a picky toddler and hubby?

For the most part, I always make sure we have a protein whether it’s beef, chicken, pork or fish. My hubby picks the protein and I come up with what we are eating. I always make a veggie and if he eats it that’s fine if not, I save the leftovers for me later. As for my toddler, we are working on her eating more veggies which is a work in progress.

I’ve also stopped buying processed foods when shopping. There are a lot more healthy options in our cupboard now than there was before. If my hubby wants something, he has to buy it on his own.

What is my quick go to paleo meal?

A stir fry has been my favorite if my hubby is working an evening shift and won’t be having dinner with us. I use coconut oil to cook the veggies and it’s so delicious! I have had shredded chicken prepped prior too and just add it to the mix. Also, I love that I can clean up leftover veggies by making a stir fry as well!

What snacks do I eat?

I have noticed since eating paleo, I haven’t really been the snack monster that I used to be. If I do want a snack, I love snacking on snap peas, nuts, fruit, nicecream, and sunflower seeds.

So what has a month of eating paleo done for me?

I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. I am no longer bloated. I have more clarity in my thinking. My face is not breaking out in pimples like it did in the past. And in the first time in 8 months, I’ve actually began losing weight. As of today, I’ve lost 10lbs this month.

What are your future plans for a paleo diet?

I hope to maintain paleo until I get everything sorted out with my health. Once I’ve reached a happy medium, I plan on continuing a paleo diet but not be as strict for special occasions such as an evening out. I may reintroduce some non-paleo foods into my diet and strive to eat clean. I do not know what the future holds as I’m just concerned with the present. This journey is supposed to be not stressful and simply an adventure to seeing where this leads me to. I know it’s not perfect but you know what? I’m not perfect as well and that’s okay with me which is all that matters.

I’m going to end this with pictures of some of my favorite yummy paleo dishes that I’ve made so far!

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