DetoxDietGastrointestinalGluten free diet

Healing Diets: What If Gluten-Free Isn’t Enough?

By October 6, 2016 No Comments

Elimination Diets

While gluten-free helps a lot of those with Hashimoto’s feel better, some people have sensitivities to other foods—most commonly soy and dairy, but frequently sensitivities to eggs, nightshade vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other grains are found. The best way to determine food allergies and sensitivities is by doing a thorough elimination diet (otherwise known as the autoimmune protocol), where all potentially problematic foods are removed for a period of at least 30 days, and then reintroduced one at a time to assess tolerance.

Once a person has completed the elimination diet, they can create an eating plan that is most conducive to long-term healing.

Other Problematic Foods (Soy, Iodine, Goitrogens)

In addition to gluten, there are other foods that those with thyroid conditions find problematic.

Soy (and foods made from soy, like soy sauce, tempeh, soymilk, soy protein isolate, tofu) contain isoflavones which act like estrogen in the body. Their consumption can lead to hormonal imbalance and worsen hypothyroidism.

Iodine can increase autoimmune attacks on the thyroid, due to its ability to reduce activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (TPO). Although some people have reported feeling better with iodine supplementation, caution is warranted as it can cause some people to go into a flare (especially in the presence of selenium deficiency). A moderate intake of iodine in foods should not be problematic except in the most sensitive cases.

Goitrogens are compounds in foods that can inhibit thyroid function. They are found in foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, flaxseed, mustard greens, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, peanuts, pine nuts, radishes, rutabaga, soy, spinach, strawberries, and turnips. Avoid eating them in large quantities raw (such as in green smoothies or juice), as cooking decreases goitrogen content by 30%. Most people are fine eating these foods in moderation and not excessively.

Food Allergy Testing

There are food allergy tests that your doctor can perform, but they are notoriously inaccurate and expensive. A thorough elimination diet (removing foods from the diet for a period of time and then adding them back in) is still the gold standard for food allergy testing.

The Power of a Nutrient-Dense Diet

In addition to finding out which foods a person may be sensitive to, focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods will give their body the best chance to heal. Here are some nutrients those with Hashimoto’s may need more of:

Iodine—while supplemental or excess iodine may be problematic, iodine is still needed for healthy thyroid function. It is found in fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables.
Vitamin D—while it is found in small amounts in meats and mushrooms, vitamin D is produced by our skin when we exercise smart sun exposure.
Vitamin A—found in organ meats, seafood, meats, and its precursor beta-carotene is found in colorful fruits and vegetables.
Selenium—necessary for the conversion of thyroid hormones in the liver, this mineral is found in high amounts in seafood and brazil nuts.
Omega-3 Fats—necessary for managing inflammation, this essential fat can be found in fish, shellfish, and grass-fed animal meats.
Zinc—necessary for the conversion of thyroid hormones in the liver, this mineral is abundant in shellfish, meats, and pumpkin seeds.

Supporting Gut Flora (Probiotic Foods)

Research has shown that all autoimmune diseases are positively impacted by the beneficial flora found in our digestive tracts. We can support these bacteria by taking probiotics, as well as eating probiotic foods—those that have been fermented, like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kvass, etc.

Diet/Nutrition Resources


Find over 60 gluten, dairy, soy, grain, egg, nut, seed, and nightshade free at

Menu Plans

There’s a great free, 2-week menu plan here:

Batch Cooking

This is a brilliant batch cooking video:

Gluten-Free Eating Out

Eating out with food allergies can be incredibly difficult. Here are some tips that might make it easier for you:

-start by finding a restaurant that specializes in gluten-free meals or has a gluten-free menu. Those that accommodate gluten-free can usually also make other modifications to their meals.

-call ahead to ask if the restaurant can accommodate your sensitivities. Often times they can make plans to prepare a meal for you if you give them a heads up.

-carry a list of foods you are allergic to in order to hand to the server so they can inform the kitchen.

-order dishes that are as plain as possible—sauces and dressings are often a source of hidden allergens.

-bring your own condiments, like coconut aminos to a sushi restaurant instead of soy sauce

-sometimes, when traveling it is easier to piece together your own meal at a health food store like Whole Foods than eat at a restaurant.

Gluten-Free Holidays

Gathering with family and friends for holiday celebrations can be difficult when you have food allergies and sensitivities. Here are some tips to make things easier for you:

-don’t feel the need to explain your food restrictions to everyone—just those who are most likely to understand. You don’t need any unnecessary negativity during this time.

-avoid meals with those who you do not know well.

-share meals at home instead of restaurants. The best case scenario is to share a meal at home where you know where the food came from.

-if someone else is preparing food for you, choose your battles wisely. Ask for them to make some of the larger items (meat dish, a side or two) gluten or allergen-free and bring some of your own food to supplement.

-don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake.