Beliefs: Diet, Exercise and Recovery

I have done a lot of research into dietary effects on autoimmune conditions, particularly thyroid disease and adrenal health. Of course, it is driven by improving my quality of life as I recover from burnout. From this knowledge, I have developed my own beliefs around what I need to do to recover.

Many people have created a career out of what they have learnt because it does take some time to collect the information, and they can offer others the opportunity to learn more about how to improve their health.

I have read Dr Amy Myers‘ book, The Autoimmune Solution. I would love to read Dr. Izabella Wentz‘ book Root Cause Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I do follow her closely on social media, however. Dr Alan Christianson has some great videos and blog posts for adrenal health, if you can get past that silly giggle. I have seen a few other online personalities talking about how they quit sugar and those that provide recipes for the Autoimmune Paleo diet.

Believe-RecoveryIt’s quite a confusing environment for anyone wanting to know the ‘truth’. Diet is particularly relevant for anyone with a thyroid disease because metabolism is affected by the thyroid, and weight management can be an ongoing struggle. I am not yet hypothyroid but I am at very high risk to get there.

There are those who say that too much exercise is harmful, and others who say that a sedentary life is more dangerous to our health. With so many opinions and many of these experts guaranteeing that their approaches are scientifically based, what do we do? This blog contains my opinions, not based on science, just based on what I think. I don’t claim to be an expert on diet, or health, or anything for that matter.

I think that heavy exercise is harmful for me while I struggle to recover from burnout. My adrenal glands have taken a hammering and I would probably do myself more harm than good to undergo heavy cardio exercise right now. I miss running, but for now I’m doing walking and strength-building exercises with the help of a biokineticist. There may be a time in the future when I can run again and that may also not be possible. For now, I work with what I can do, and build towards getting stronger.

I’m suspicious of anyone who says that fruit is bad for you. Yes, the pesticides are worse than they used to be. And yes, if you only ate grapes for two weeks you would probably have some health event. But putting a banana and some blueberries into my morning smoothie feels just right to me. I remember going to a dietitian who told me to count the strawberries and not have more than four at a time. I fired her quickly. She also told me to have a quarter of an avocado at a time. I gleefully eat a whole one every morning, and smile in defiance as I do it.

I have recently learnt that the liver uses sugar to convert the hormones that the thyroid makes, into hormones that the cells use for energy. That means that the body needs some sugar, and if I’m getting it primarily in fruit, that seems healthy to me. Of course a diet of only sugar or very high in sugar can’t be good either. I limit my sugar but I’m not sold on anyone who says that no sugar is the answer, or that fruit should be avoided.


I have read some crazy things like greens are not healthy for the thyroid. There are a range of people promoting a green smoothie in the morning – one of my rituals that I have introduced. I blend a range of greens that I pick from my garden with things like ginger, fruit and avocado. This is how I start my day. My health has improved dramatically since I’ve started doing this so I really can’t compute how green vegetables could be bad for you.

There are many who subscribe to the notion of cutting out entire food groups from the diet: grains, legumes, dairy, nightshade vegetables. I’m sure there are some dangers in there for some people, but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone with an autoimmune disease to cut out such a vast array of foods. For example, I have no adverse reaction to brown rice which is full of zinc. Zinc helps the digestive tract to heal from the damage caused by gluten. I’m eating the brown rice. It does no harm and it’s helping to heal me.

I don’t agree with the blanket approach that is touted by many these days. What I subscribe to, is doing what is right for YOUR body. I had my body tested for allergies and food sensitivities. If anything didn’t show up on the test but still seems to disagree with me, I cut it out. Simple as that. I didn’t cut out ten food groups before I got to that point – thank heavens.

I subscribe to testing for parasites and infections because those can cause a lot of harm and cannot be fixed by dietary changes. I believe in customised treatment of the individual with a functional doctor (integrated practitioner). I believe in taking your medication as prescribed, but taking ownership of your own health. I believe in challenging your practitioner or changing if necessary in order to get the best care.  They are only people and people make mistakes and are often limited by their own beliefs.

The endocrine system in particular is really complex. I read recently of someone referring to ‘good’ hormones and ‘bad’ hormones. That is ludicrous to me since we need hormones to survive. I’m much more in favour of following someone who talks about balancing hormones than someone who labels them as good and bad.

In summary, I believe in eating a healthy diet of foods that support MY recovery. By this I mean foods like fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and rice. I avoid processed foods as much as possible and gluten because of the damage it does to the small intestine. I take my medicine, I ask questions and I research to understand my disease and how to improve my quality of life. I do gentle exercise until I’m recovered to increase it. I also think that sleep is completely underrated as a means to recover so I prioritise sleep.

I don’t accept every suggestion that comes my way. Instead I use the knowledge I have accumulated with some good old fashioned common sense. And that is working for me.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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