So I had read a lot of posts online about going gluten free if you have Hashimoto’s. As with all these things, you don’t know what to believe so I asked my doctor – who said I shouldn’t – and dietician friends – who also dissuaded me. They explained that if you don’t have an intolerance to gluten you can actually give yourself an intolerance by cutting it out. Obviously I didn’t want to do this – I do love pasta!
Then after speaking to people at one of The Thyroid Trust meetings in September, I found that many people with Hashimoto’s are gluten free, or have at least tried it. Now, everyone is different and it doesn’t benefit everyone, which could be why doctors are so reluctant to advise eliminating gluten from your diet, however, I decided to give it a go.
Unfortunately gluten is something you have to cut out completely to receive any benefits, so you’re either all in or you’re not. It also takes a while to get out of your system.
I started on 25th September 2017 and nearly four weeks later I saw the effects. It was as if something just clicked in me. I woke up one morning with an energy I hadn’t had in years, I felt lighter in some way, like the heaviness of fatigue and the brain fog had been lifted and I felt a sense of calm and general happiness.
I suffer quite badly with anxiety, depression and like many hypothyroidism patients, brain fog, so the mental effects I was experiencing from cutting out gluten were a very big deal to me. More so than the digestive effects – lack of bloating being the only I’ve noticed.
Why? The science
Whilst reading up on going gluten free with Hashimoto’s the most encouraging bit of information I found to explain why I was experiencing these effects was down to cell structure. There is a protein found in gluten which has the same/very similar shaped cells to the thyroid, so when someone with Hashimoto’s (who’s antibodies attack the thyroid cells) consumes gluten their antibodies have a field day attacking this protein and the thyroid cells just for good measure.
What can I eat?
As a pescatarian I’m now quite limited when I go out to eat, less so than vegetarians/vegans I’m sure, but I still find I sometimes have only one or two options. I have chosen to embrace this though, I figure if I only have one choice I’m under less pressure to decide what to eat and less likely to get food envy! There are loads of restaurants which have gluten free options for things like pizza and pasta now though too, so it’s not a massive issue.
I have found I’m preparing more food for myself, particularly for my lunches at work. Things like vegetable stew and soups – in these cold winter months. And supermarkets are very good with gluten free options, Aldi has a great selection apparently.
Gluten free bread is a tricky one. Some breads are really dry and crumbly. My personal favourite is the gluten free seeded batch bread in M&S – it’s a small loaf so big enough for one and it’s great toasted. Other than that, some Sainsbury’s stores do a wide selection. It’s personal preference but there’s loads to choose from.
Over Christmas (ok, maybe from November) I was missing mince pies, but as luck would have it most supermarkets sell gluten free mince pies. The pastry on some is a bit dry but Aldi’s version was delicious! See my Facebook/Instagram pages for more on my mince pie testing and other treats I’ve found.
I did find I lost a bit of weight (which before I was struggling with) when I first started going gluten free. This was before I found all the delicious gluten free options available for cakes and biscuits etc. I deluded myself that because it was gluten free I could eat it – they still have just as much sugar in!! So then the weight piled on again. It’s not a diet to lose weight on!
Also, whilst on holidays (Bruges in October and Mexico/Belize over new year) I have cheated – especially in Bruges with the beer and waffles! This has set me back as once I’ve returned and gone gluten free again it has taken another four weeks to get back on track and feeling what I now realise is ‘normal’.
As well as food, gluten is also found in some alcohol *sad face*. However, although some spirits are made with wheat, rye and/or barley (like whiskey) the gluten is eliminated during the distilling process so these are safe. No goes are beers, lagers, ales and stouts.
I don’t think I have an intolerance to gluten, it’s more of a sensitivity. Testing how much and of whatI can have is an ongoing process, but for guidance on what is and isn’t gluten free see the Coeliac UK website.