For many with a thyroid condition, food as medicine is a primary component of the health journey. This time of year is often when many health issues, including thyroid conditions, appear to flare up. Why is this?
One common reason is that our food choices often differ this time of year. When we are out of our regular routine, it is harder to stick with the balanced meal pattern that has helped keep thyroid function optimized. Perhaps you were limiting gluten, dairy, or soy while also trying to focus on including more nutrient-dense, and anti-inflammatory meals. However with a line up of holiday parties, it can be tricky to stick with these balanced meals. If this rings true to you, don’t fret! Keep on reading for our roadmap to optimal health during the holidays.
1. Develop a (minimal) meal plan.
While a full day-by-day meal plan may not be realistic some weeks of the holidays, keeping a basic meal plan will ensure you still have meals and ingredients on hand that provide nutrient-dense foods. Look through your calendar to identify which days you are home vs eating out. Develop a list of easy meals you can make throughout the week. Shop for these staples and prep anything you need for the week on Sunday. This way you can grab & go throughout the week.
2. Keep your fridge (and pantry) stocked with thyroid supporting foods.
Kale, spinach, tuna, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and lentils are all thyroid-nourishing foods. Keep these on hand for easy additions to meals.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:
- Chop and massage kale with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Use the kale for salads, soups, and toast toppings.
- Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, lentils, or tuna and mix with olive oil and fresh herbs. Use as a quick protein source for meals and snacks.
- Keep pumpkin seeds in your purse or car for a quick snack.
3. Honor your food sensitivities.
This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to the holidays. Unfortunately, it is also what causes many of the thyroid flares this time of year. While those holiday cookies may be calling your name, if you know gluten makes your thyroid worse, then it may be worth asking yourself – is it really worth it? The answer may be yes – perhaps they truly are something that you only eat once a year. In this case, mindfully indulging in one may not be the end of the world (and you can always use extra digestive support if needed).
However for most of these instances, the answer is likely no. Rather than feeling like your can’t have these foods, try shifting your internal dialogue to: I’m choosing not to have this to support my health. This simple shift from a place of feeling restricted – to a place of choice, may make it easier to pass on the foods you know your body does not tolerate.
4. Create your game plan for holiday parties
Before you arrive, consider having a snack of protein + vegetables. Parties tend to have many snack foods, but protein and veggies are often harder to come by. An added bonus – you will arrive with enough satiety to make mindful decisions about what you truly want while honoring what your thyroid needs for optimal functioning.
Consider bringing a dish that you know you will be able to eat (and enjoy!). It’s never fun to arrive to a party only to find out there is nothing you can eat. Once you arrive, try to style your plate like you would at home. Prioritize vegetables and protein – then fill the rest of your plate with whatever else looks good, aiming for roughly 1 “fist” portion of carbohydrates. This will help you honor your satiety while keeping your blood sugar and energy stable. Future you will definitely thank you.
We hope these tips provide you with a foundation to successfully navigate your holiday season. Want to learn more? Check out our blog post where we discuss our favorite tips & tricks to have an easier holiday season – and a happier digestive system.
If you would like further guidance, please schedule a call with our team for individualized support!
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.