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Nutrition advice for thyroid conditions
last updated:
Fri, 3/22/2013 3:40 PM

March is National Nutrition Month, and Methodist Registered Dieticians are answering your questions.

Q: Are there certain foods a person with Graves' Disease should avoid (in relation to their metabolism)?

A: Individuals who have not had their thyroid removed typically require a high-calorie (especially from carbohydrates, i.e., grains, fruit, milk, starchy vegetables, sugar) and high-protein diet. To prevent weakened bones, adequate phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D should be included in the diet with a multivitamin-mineral (without iodine).

Limit iodine-rich foods like seaweed wraps (nori) on sushi or shellfish/seafood, iodized-salt (meat tenderizer and MSG), E-127 Erythrosine food coloring (Red Dye #3), dairy and milk chocolate, and egg yolks. Keep in mind that some meats (especially poultry) are injected with broth (i.e., salt) to maintain the juiciness of the meat. Processed meats are often sodium rich as well, and the food label will not differentiate between iodized and non-iodized salt ingredients.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine (coffee, tea, cola soft drinks, and chocolate). Raw cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, soybeans, and peanuts may compound the side effects of anti-thyroid medications. Non-iodized salt is permitted.

Q: What diet advice do you have for someone with Hashimoto's Disease?

A: A calorie restriction is often needed to prevent weight gain. Calorie needs are based on age, sex, height, and activity level. Thus, they are specific to the individual. Generally, reduction of 500 calories per day from one’s current intake will result in safe weight loss. Weigh yourself frequently to determine if weight change is true or due to fluid retention/loss. You should monitor your vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron and supplement them if you're deficient. Raw cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, soybeans, and peanuts should be avoided. Avoid dietary supplements, like kelp tablets, unless discussed with your physician first. Iodized salt is permitted.

Please contact a Methodist dietician at the information below for additional information regarding these issues. 

(Answers provided by Allison Kent, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC at Methodist Germantown Hospital.)

Registered Dietitians can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy related to blood pressure, blood sugar, preventive care, gluten free needs and some GI disorders, food allergy, decreased kidney function, weight loss/gain and more.

Most insurances cover the cost of nutrition therapy at the request of your physician. Check with your insurance company to find out if your plan covers classes, and talk to your doctor about providing a written request.

More Information:
Contact Amanda Carmichael, BS, RD, LDN, 901.516.6357
Fax physicians requests: 901.937.3334


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000