I suffer from an underactive thyroid... How can I lose weight?

Alva Carpenter | [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2009-07-24 03:00

I receive many letters, mainly from women, who say that they are unable to lose weight because they have an underactive thyroid. The answer to this question is yes you can lose weight and you should do so if you are overweight.

What is an underactive thyroid?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is 10 times more common in women than men. Underactive thyroids are usually related to Hashimoto’s disease or goitre (an enlargement of the thyroid gland) where the body’s immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, reducing hormone secretion. Childbirth and/or stress can also trigger it.


A lack of thyroid hormones causes a slow down in the metabolism, weight gain, tiredness, depression, dry skin, and constipation. People who have been severely overweight for some time often wonder if they might indeed have a thyroid problem. There seems to be a common misconception that such hormone disorders are rife — but in reality, thyroid diseases are in fact highly uncommon. Indeed, less than a fraction of 1 percent of all overweight people have a disorder of the thyroid gland.

If you do find that you have a thyroid condition it is all the more reason for taking good care of yourself. You can lead a normal life as long as you keep in contact with your doctor and eat healthily and take exercise. You can do this by sending off for my Healthy Eating Guide at [email protected]. I have met several women who had an underactive thyroid and although most succeeded in losing weight, their weight loss was slower than normal.

The first step is to see your doctor and work together to make sure your thyroid levels are checked regularly, so that your medication is kept at the correct dosages. Thyroid function can change quite quickly so regular checking is very important. Then with you doctor’s support you can start to lose weight. However it is also an important point to remember that treatment with thyroxin doesn’t result in an immediate recovery. It can take symptoms up to nine months to improve and so be patient.

Try these weight lose tips

• Take regular exercise. Physical activity is especially important if you suffer from hypothyroidism. It is essential in order to help speed up your metabolism for better weight control.

• Try to avoid alcohol and manage your stress.

• Eat a varied low-fat diet, which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and oily fish. These foods may help the thyroid function.

• Eat less cabbage and Soya beans. These foods may reduce the thyroid function.

When your condition has been treated you will notice that you have far more energy and then you can move on to tackle weight loss. There are times when our health needs our care and attention to enable us to lead a long and healthy life. Never be too busy to take care of your health.

Ask Alva

Since having had three children my weight has gone up and I do not have time for exercise, I tend to wear clothes for comfort rather than style. I used to be 55 kilos and now I weigh 82 kilos and feel very fed up. — Sula

A: I expect there are many mums like you. It is a very busy time when the children are small and yes, there is not much time to look after yourself. However you must take the time to do so. It is very easy when you have a family to lose self-esteem, as your instincts are to sacrifice everything for your children. You are always better able to look after everyone if you have high self-esteem and this means taking good care of yourself. You have taken the first step by writing to me. I you send an email to [email protected] I will send you a copy of my Mini-Morning Workout and you will see that in 10 minutes per day of exercise you can soon start to tone up and feel ready for the day ahead. Do these exercises every morning as soon as you wake up or when the children are off to school. You can also send for a copy of my Healthy Eating Guide to help you lose weight gradually and get healthy — just email [email protected]. You will soon be looking and feeling better. — Alva

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