low-iodine diet

coming to you from day two of isolation, my low-iodine diet has come and gone over the past eighteen days. i’m currently planning my first normal meal post-diet for later this morning! you wouldn’t believe how excited i am to have eggs and cheese! i baked my favorite egg casserole two days ago so i could have a slice of it this morning!!!

low-iodine diet via seejaneblog

the unexpected perk of doing this diet was how much i learned about not eating dairy, eggs, soy products, and a few other items. low-iodine is similar to paleo if you’re familiar with that. from day one my body felt incredible. never bloated. never heavy. yes, there were times i would finish a meal and still be a bit hungry or crave food i couldn’t have (looking at you smartfood popcorn!!!), but overall, i felt great. like all restricted diets, the key to success is being prepared. and i tried fiercely to always be prepared.

one extremely pleasant surprise that helped me the MOST. because we are preparing to move and the last month of school is always so busy for kids, i didn’t plan on baking or cooking any overly involved recipes. one of my dear friends surprised me with two loaves of homemade iodine-free honey wheat bread. i about died of happiness. i really could have cried and/or kissed her a hundred times. i managed to ration that bread for almost the entire time with one or two slices per day, and that helped so much. you would have thought i was eating chocolate cake when it was time for that slice of bread each day! if i had to do this diet all-over again, i would never attempt to even start without some homemade iodine-free bread.

low-iodine diet, two, via seejaneblog

my goal now is to balance this knowledge with adding these items back in to my regular diet, in moderation. i don’t want to just go crazy and instantly eat the same way i would have eightteen days ago. i hope to continue with a low-carb lifestyle, but include a LOT more fresh fruits and vegetables similar to a low-iodine diet. i thought pre-eightten days ago that i ate a lot of fresh produce, but evidently, i didn’t. we didn’t.

low-iodine diet, three, via seejaneblog

when on a low-iodine diet, you can not have: iodized salt (obviously) and sea salt and/or any foods containing iodized salt or sea salt. luckily, if you are a fan of salt (i am!) you can have Kosher or any other non-iodized salt. no seafood or any products from the sea – seaweed, kale, etc. no dairy products – milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, powdered dairy products, etc. egg yolks, whole eggs or any products containing whole eggs. no breads and cereals, unless the bread is homemade iodine-free. no chocolate. no soup – cream or canned. no soy products. none of the following beans: red, kidney, lima, navy, pinto, and cowpeas. no potato skins. no rhubarb. no iodine-containing vitamins and food supplements (my vitamins include iodine). no foods that contain red dye #3, no molasses, carrageen, agar, algine, alginate, nori.

low-iodine diet, four, via seejaneblog

in moderation, you can have: five ounces per day of fresh meats (NO DELI MEAT) such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb. preferably whole cuts. four servings per day of grains, cereals, and breads without iodine (one cup of prepared hot oats SAVED me every morning), depending on how strict you have to be on the low-iodine diet you may or may not be allowed one cup of basmati rice per day.

no pre-packaged foods. no fast food. and, dining out is highly discouraged.

a typical menu for me/day:

  • coffee (preferably a tall blonde roast from starbucks)- coffee can NOT be instant, must be freshly brewed. and black – no cream.
  • breakfast: one cup prepared hot oats topped with a sliced banana or fruit of choice, and honey.
  • lunch: a bowl or plate full of fresh raw veggies (i liked to season them with Kosher salt and mrs. dash – a salt free herb blend) and a side bowl of berries.
  • afternoon snack: apple, nectarine, watermelon, or more veggies + 1/2 cup of fresh cashews or almonds OR one slice of iodine-free bread topped with sliced avocado.
  • dinner: 4-5 ounces of fresh meat – i usually had chicken or beef, grilled. with a side of mushrooms, a baked yam (without the skin) or green beans. a few times, i switched my lunch/dinner when i was really hungry at lunch time and wanted meat earlier in the day for energy/fuel.
  • late evening snack: clear herbal tea + berries.
  • unexpected snacking: i kept a big bag of sliced oranges in my handbag + sugar snap peas, cashews, and almonds in case i needed them.

after looking at my typical day – doesn’t that seem how we should be eating, most of the time? i think we are a relative healthy family, but even on nights i’d cook a separate meal for my kids and then cook my meal – i’d find the kiddos picking at my food, or requesting what i was having… motivating me to cook more all-vegetable meals in the future. i was snacking on a cold baked yam at the beach last weekend, and myla wanted nearly half of it! luckily, i always packed enough to share.

the craziest thing happened during my first few days of the diet. for pre-radiation thyroid cancer patients, you also stop taking your synthetic hormones during this diet. (you stop taking them long before this diet starts usually) i was nervous about this. but, i kid you not – and i’ve said it repeatedly, i really have felt great! so much so that i didn’t want to start my synethic hormones again, and was curious if i could live without hormones! is that crazy?

the first week i would wake up (and traditionally i weigh myself each morning to keep check on where i am) and was losing almost a pound/day for the first week! i continued my daily workouts during the entire low-iodine diet. either my regular cardio/weights, hot yoga, or running. but for months i’ve been battling the weight i’ve gained through this whole thyroid-cancer-time-of-my-life without any if very little success. so, it felt really great to shed a few pounds.

with that said, by the second week and definitely two+ weeks, some of the weight slowly came back on the longer i was off my synthetic hormones regardless of my efforts to exercise twice a day/etc.

so, today i return to my regular diet + start taking levoxyl again. i will be closely monitoring how i feel and looking forward to being cancer free (fingers crossed, prayers accepted!) – my full body scan is at the “nuclear medicine department” on tuesday morning.

…it’s time for my eggs! and, i’m totally having some smartfood popcorn this afternoon.

{photos by me, Jane Rhodes}

6 responses to “low-iodine diet

  1. This is really interesting. My youngest son has suffered from various food allergies all his little life (he’s now 3) and initially was allergic to sesame, wheat, all dairy, eggs and nuts (we’re now down to just eggs and nuts). When I was nursing him, I too couldn’t eat those foods as the proteins couldn’t pass to him, so I had to do an elimination diet excluding these. And I felt great too. Once he was weaned, I went crazy adding these things back into my diet once I was free to have them and gained a tonne of weight! So at the beginning of the year, I did another elimination diet for 3wks. I hadn’t been able to wear my earrings or wedding rings because of terrible psorasis and was generally feeling sluggish, but within three weeks, not only did I reeducate somewhat my sweet tooth, and drop a few lbs, my skin totally cleared up and I felt more alert and awake than in mths. I know you have a serious reason for doing this diet, but I think all of us on a day to day basis need to look at our diet – I thought my family ate well until I had to eat more paleo-ish, but realised how a few changes can make a massive difference.

    Bravo to you Jane! And everything crossed for Tuesday… xxx

  2. Loved reading about this. I’m 22 wks and my ankles are already really swollen. Ran into a Dr friend yesterday and she said to stay off the salt. I never add salt to my food. So this is really informative. I too HATE synthetic hormones. When you are cancer free and moved back I want to refer you to my favorite Dr, promise you will love her. So proud of you. Thank you for writing about this! Don’t know if I can eat like this though 🙂

  3. That was a very interesting read, Jane! I’ve been looking into the paleo diet lately; everyone who does it seem to love it, i just dont know if i have that kind of willpower. I hope your isolation is going well 🙂

  4. Nice article. I think that’s good for specially old people.
    My dad suffers in blood pressure. That’s why I am looking for above foods.

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