Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the seemingly conflicting fitness and nutrition information out there? Health is a hot topic these days and it seems that you cannot log into Facebook without seeing an article on diet or exercise pass through your feed.
It’s great that people are interested, but pure information outside of the proper context can be confusioning and frustrating.
Sure, there is some overlap between performance, weight loss and longevity goals- especially when you’re just getting started- but it’s important to realize that simply “eating healthy” does not necessarily mean you will lose weight. Likewise, a weight loss program is not necessarily healthy.
Early in my healthy living journey I decided that my most important reason to exercise and monitor my diet was for longevity and improved quality of life as I age. So when I am scanning for information, I always run it through this filter.
I suggest that if you have not already done so, get clear on what it is that you are really after. It is a toned stomach? An “instagram” butt? To complete a marathon? To lose weight? The goal that you strive for isn’t as important as knowing WHAT GOAL really matters the most to you and what YOU need to do in order to get YOU to reach that goal.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” Chinese Proverb
All that being said, below is a great general reminder for us all on some of the simple choices we can make to create better, healthier versions of ourselves. If you feel yourself becoming confused or overwhelmed about what you should eat, just focus on adding more of the “best” foods to your diet and avoiding the “worst.” If you’re looking for my advice on a specific goal, check out my online coaching page.
If you’re like me and love to devour every ounce of health information out there about longevity, I highly recommend starting with these 3 books.
These books offer well researched information that stands the test of time and will give you a solid understanding of actionable steps you can take to improve your health through your every day habits.
Good Morning! I just wanted to take a moment to give everyone a quick update on where I am at for my treatment. As you know from my last cancer update post I have one more stage of treatment ahead, Radioactive iodine therapy.
A Little About RAI Therapy
Radioiodine, I-131 or RAI is used after surgery to eliminate (ablate) any remaining cancer cells or normal thyroid tissue that the surgeon could not remove. Ablation also aims to eliminate any thyroid cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
Eliminating the remnant of normal thyroid tissue will make it easier to do the ongoing monitoring for any possible recurrence. RAI ablation has also been shown to improve survival rates if the cancer has spread to the neck or other parts of the body.
Preparation for RAI
There are 2 main parts to preparing for this phase of treatment. The first is to increase the TSH level (thyroid-stimulating hormone, or thyrotropin) levels to well above the normal range to encourage them to absorb any iodine, including radioiodine.
In my case, this is done by completely withdrawing from all thyroid hormone replacement for 2 weeks prior to treatment (a process that I am going through now). Getting the TSH level as high as possible before RAI treatment will help all thyroid cells both cancerous and non cancerous better absorb the RAI.
The seconds part of course is a low iodine diet to “starve” any remaining thyroid tissue for iodine. This way when the radioiodine is administered the cells will absorb as much as possible. The unfortunate thing is that iodine is found in many foods, which leaves you to do a lot of cooking.
Allowed Foods and Ingredients on a Low Iodine Diet
• Fruits except rhubarb and maraschino cherries (with Red Dye #3 or E127 in the United Kingdom).
• Vegetables: preferably raw or frozen without salt, except soybeans and (according to NIH diet) a few other beans.
• Unsalted nuts and unsalted nut butters.
• Whites of eggs.
• Fresh meats up to 6 ounces a day.
• Grain and cereal products up to 4 servings per day, provided they have no high-iodine ingredients.
• Pasta, provided it has no high-iodine ingredients.
• Sugar, jelly, jam, honey, maple syrup.
• Black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices.
• Oils. All vegetable oils, including soy oil.
• Sodas (except with Red Dye #3 or E127 in the UK), cola, diet cola, non-instant coffee, non-instant tea, beer, wine, other alcoholic beverages, lemonade, fruit juices.
Foods Not Allowed on a Low Iodine Diet
• Iodized salt, sea salt, and any foods containing iodized salt and sea salt.
• Seafood and sea products (fish, shellfish, seaweed,
seaweed tablets, carrageenan, agar-agar, alginate, nori and other sea-based foods or ingredients).
• Dairy products of any kind (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream).
• Egg yolks or whole eggs or foods containing whole eggs.
• Bakery products containing iodine/iodate dough conditioners or high-iodine ingredients. Low- iodine homemade and commercial baked goods are fine.
• Red Dye #3. (E127 in the United Kingdom)
• Most Chocolate (due to milk content). Cocoa powder and some dark chocolates are allowed.
• Some molasses (if sulfured, such as blackstrap molasses). Unsulfured molasses, which is more common, is okay. Sulfur is a term used on labels and does not relate to iodine.
• Soybeans and soybean products such as tofu, TVP, soy milk, soy sauce. The NIH diet says to avoid some other beans: red kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and cowpeas.
• On some diets, rhubarb and potato skins (inside of the potato is fine).
• Iodine-containing vitamins and food supplements.
Hiring a Personal Chef
The hard part about a low iodine diet is that when your body is withdrawn from thyroid hormone your energy is very unpredictable which makes it hard to keep up with your day to day life, let alone grocery shop cook from scratch for every single meal you need.
While withdrawn from thyroid hormone you can expect to experience tiredness, weight gain, sleepiness, muscle aches, inability to concentrate, depression. These symptoms can range from mild to serve on any given day so I found it best to ask for help.
A quick google search lead me to this excellent private chef service, Big City Chefs. I almost wrote this option off thinking that it would be way to expensive to consider, but I was pleasantly surprised.
On Sunday, Big City Chef Josh did all of my grocery shopping, came to my house and prepared 5 meals for me from of the low iodine cookbook…and it cost less than $200.00 (including my groceries.
Having all of my food prepared for the week has been a huge help and has made sticking to this low iodine diet pretty easy. I had him prepare the components of each meal separately and label them in the containers. When it’s time for a meal, I simply assemble the pieces. Example: Fajita Chicken with Sautéed Bell Peppers & Onions and them I add some low iodine rice.
This Week’s Low Iodine Meals
Lastly, I wanted to share this amazing product I found on amazon.com called Scarguard MD. I started using it about a week ago and I swear- my scar started to flatten an hour of putting this on my neck. As you can see from the photos below, it is healing quickly. I am confident that within a few years it will barely be noticeable.
Overall I am doing well and am having as many good days as not-so-good days. Thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, phone calls and messages. They help to keep my spirits lifted on the days when I am bummed about not being able to do everything I use to. On a positive note, did have the energy to make it to 2 of my aerial classes this week, so I am on my way.