Chubby, Anxious & Exhausted – is it your Thyroid?
Stop beating yourself up about a lack of willpower when it comes to food. You may have an issue with your thyroid that is either sluggish or racing out of control causing hormone chaos. One in four Australian women has a subclinical thyroid and around 12 per cent has a full-blown thyroid disorder such as Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease. Someone who experiences issues with this fragile yet vital hormone is Oprah. Ten years ago, she shared her story of feeling sheer exhaustion and weight gain that was diagnosed as thyroid disease. She wrote about it in her magazine, Oprah. “My body was turning on me. First hyperthyroidism, which sped my metabolism and left me unable to sleep for days. (Most people lose weight. I didn’t) Then hypothyroidism, which slowed down my metabolism and made me want to sleep all the time. (Most people gain weight. I did! Twenty pounds!)”
The thyroid hormone is responsible for more than just weight and metabolism. If affects physical and mental energy and growth. And it can even affect our sleep.
Here are 9 common signs of a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism:
You feel exhausted Even after a good night’s sleep, my clients say they feel physically and emotionally exhausted. They may have slept for 8-9 hours. Those with a sluggish thyroid often say “I am worn out.”
You gain weight without change of diet This is a very unfair symptom of hypothyroidism. You eat like a bird but gain weight. The metabolism switches to slow motion and your basal metabolic rate decreases. One study found those newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism gained an average of 7-14 kilos during the first year. It affects your self-esteem and your libido!
You feel cold when others are warm Are you someone who feels the cold in the office or at home? Do you pull on a jumper when others are taking them off? Feeling the heat means we burn food for fuel. When your thyroid is sluggish, this doesn’t happen at the rate it should and people feel cold to their bones.
Muscle and joint aches
Muscle soreness is common after strenuous activity but those with thyroid dysfunction can feel sore without having exercised. Low thyroid function can appear as stiffness, cramps and muscle fatigue with no known cause. Some people of middle age think it’s a symptom of getting older when it isn’t.
Depression or the Blues
An endocrinologist friend of mine told me that twenty years ago, a woman would tell her General Practitioner that she was feeling down but her thyroid wasn’t tested. She’d be prescribed antidepressants. Fortunately that’s changed. These days, GPs know that a low mood and depression could be from a sluggish thyroid or from thyroid disease.
Thinning Hair Hair follicles have a short life span and are very sensitive to low thyroid levels. If you have hair loss, change in hair texture or patches of thinning hair, ask your GP for thyroid tests.
Dry, itchy skin If your thyroid is sluggish, everything becomes slower including hair growth, metabolic rate, digestion and skin renewal. Skin cells are sensitive to changes in the thyroid hormone. This means the outer layer of skin has been around longer, accumulating damage. It also means dead skin may take longer to shed, leading to flaky, dry skin.
Brain fog or memory issues Brain fog caused by sugar highs and lows is one thing, but feeling the fog even though you’ve balanced your blood sugar levels is really annoying. Many clients with hypothyroidism complain of fogginess and a feeling of vulnerability. The reason for this lack of concentration and memory is still not fully understood.
It’s no fun when your digestion is backed up. Low thyroid levels can really halt your pipes. Constipation is not an uncommon problem but if it comes on suddenly and is associated with other symptoms, consult your GP.
If your thyroid is sluggish, eat a diet based on whole foods low in sugar and dairy and without gluten. This will lower inflammation. The thyroid loves selenium, iodine, vitamin B and iron. For tasty recipes created around these principles, get your copy of The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet - a 4-week reset to rebalance weight, mood, and energy. /healthy-hormones/