The last 6 months of 2018 has been a complete game changer for me when it comes to taking control of my health problems. As you must already know, I’ve been fighting Hashimoto’s disease since 2010 and PCOS since 2016. Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune condition, whereas PCOS is a lifestyle one.

If you have been following me for a while, you know ever since I started this blog, I’ve been wanting to document my struggle with it and taking control of it. I’ve been to another nutritionist, tried the auto-immune protocol diet, a clean meal plan, tried keto, paleo, and even a bone-broth gut cleanse. While these, in general, should put a positive effect on your health, (and for me, it did initially), I failed to see how relentlessly I searched and looked forward to my cheat meals. I ditched the scale; because several people and my nutritionist at the time told me that the scale wasn’t a good measure of the progress I was making.

Which, I agree is true. But when it comes to weight loss, especially when you’re 20 + kgs overweight, the scale can tell you a whole lot about your progress.

I showed up at the gym. I did lots of yoga. I did weights and HIIT workouts despite spotting. Butter coffees. I did it all. Here’s what worked for me:

How to lose weight despite having Hashimoto’s & PCOS:

1. Bring the scale back

Weighing scale
Weighing yourself everyday helps you keep track of your goals

I know this seems counterintuitive as there’s a lot of focus on body positivity and acceptance. Of course, you should love your body. But love it enough to listen to it too. Love it enough to make improvements. Love it enough to make sacrifices and efforts to make your body heal.

Every day, your body composition varies. Your weight fluctuates on a daily basis depending on how much water retention you have, your meal the previous night, your workouts, etc. But noticing these subtle changes in your body can easily help you monitor which food bloats you and which food suits you. That itself can make a big difference.

When I say “scale”, I don’t just mean noting down your body weight. You need to measure your food as well. Checking the portions that you consume helps you understand the extent of how much your body can adapt to certain food.

2. Listen to your mama, and cook at home

Cook at home

As a food blogger, my lifestyle was no longer conducive to my health as I dined out a lot. Even those once to twice a week meals turned out to be absolute binges. Primarily eating at home for six months straight saw me drop 7kgs in a month – something that never happened before at any point in time.

3. Get your protein primarily from plant-based sources

It is a common misconception that we need a lot of protein in our diets. The truth is, it is very difficult for some women (especially women with Hashimoto’s and PCOS) to digest animal sources of protein as our guts struggle with digestion. While I have not turned vegan, I have turned to chia for a plant-based source of protein. What fellow Hashimoto’s & PCOS sufferers need is fibre, more than protein. I would eliminate animal sources of protein, lentils, cruciferous veggies, starchy food, and legumes for a month and then slowly incorporate them into the diet week by week. If it doesn’t work for you, your body may not be receptive to it now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be receptive later. Learn to understand your body and its limitations. Most of all, be patient.

Plant based meals
Eat plant-based food

4. Fat first doesn’t always work for people with Hashimoto’s & PCOS

Not in my case, atleast. Fat is quite difficult to digest & when you have gut problems, it could be a bad way to go about your diet. I continue to be moderate about what I consume.

5. Stay gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar free

100%. While I do have a slice of whole wheat bread from time to time, I do stay away from soy, dairy and sugar. Soy has all been so genetically modified, it’s not worth the inclusion in your diet. Keep in mind your ethnic diversity as some food suit you better than others. Keep your meals simple and local. Dairy is HORRIBLE for both Hashimoto’s & PCOS because it’s just so inflammatory. As for sugar, we all know it has an addictive quality as well as feeds cancer cells.

6. Stop eating out of a can

Eliminate all packaged food. Make sure you buy fresh and seasonal fruit and veggies. I make all the food I eat from scratch. My typical diet is overnight oats or a green smoothie for breakfast, home cooked veggies for lunch and dinner cooked in a teaspoon of olive oil with homemade oats rotis and a side salad. For snacks, I pair either a fruit or 5-6 nuts with a green tea/black coffee.

7. Stay active throughout the day rather than overexercising

Walk
Yes, I’m basically asking you to take a hike.

Yes, there is a term called overexercising. We exercise so that we include a good amount of activity that we’ve missed out during the day. However, I’ve found short bursts of HIIT exercises, yoga, or a long walk or even just staying active throughout the day has benefited me most.

8. Meal prep and planning ahead for travel

Meal prep like your life depended on it (it does)

A lot of us swing the diet out the window and tend to either eat out or order in if we haven’t meal prepped. Meal prepping is time-consuming and actually exhausting on some days you guys. It also is quite a challenge to tickle your palate when you are eating simple meals every day, you really do tend to crave something exciting. However, remember you’re eating to nourish.

Keep it easy and simple during the week when you have to go to work and cook on alternate days so that the food you eat tastes fresh. On the weekends, spend time researching recipes to incorporate so you can switch it up.

Whenever I’m travelling, I always carry some oats, chia & coconut milk to whip up overnight oats, pack some hazelnuts in a ziplock as well as pack lots of ginger green tea bags as well as ginger tulsi tea. I managed to have found some buckwheat crackers (with no nasties) to accompany with lunch. I tend to order salads without dressing and have the occasional whole wheat toast. I do also go for a quick grocery shop visit to buy fruits which I use as snacks. These are really tough decisions to make on holiday, and I can’t say I haven’t indulged a fair bit. But I try to “damage control” and try to go back to eating healthier at the next meal. My cheat meals have reduced to maybe once a month.

9. Say no and don’t give in to pressure nor pity

This was the most challenging thing for me. When you’re on a diet, you tend to feel bad for yourself in social settings. People don’t make it easier. The best way of avoiding such taunts from people while you have a social event you cannot avoid is to eat your meal beforehand so you are not hungry.

Not too long ago, an aunt even told me that I was “torturing myself” and I’ve lost count of times people have asked me when I could eat “normal” again. First of all, what is normal anyway? For me, eating normally is eating a meal that heals, nourishes, and fulfils me. I am not starving myself. I’m eating good, nutritious, home-cooked food made from nature’s bounty that is carefully assessed and measured. This is all done with the advice of my nutritionist, who is an expert in her field.

I’ve gotten a lot of raised eyebrows when I’ve requested a green tea at a bar. While you cannot avoid all social situations, there are still things you can do so you don’t have FOMO.

10. Lots of healing tulsi ginger tea

Tulsi (holy basil) tea has amazing healing properties and I swear by it. Sip the tulsi ginger green tea and the tulsi ginger tea ( acaffeine-free option) often after meals or paired with a fruit or some nuts as a snack. I cannot emphasize more on how much it has helped me with my digestive issues and immune system.

My ‘secrets’ are now out! If you’re a person that suffers from Hashimoto’s & PCOS and struggles with weight loss, know that you are not alone. In my case, my new nutritionist Priyanka Chopra (not the actress, though she deserves to be as famous) really changed the way I look at food. For you, it could really be a mindset shift.

Now, what you really clicked on this post for. Ready for my before & after pic?

July 2018

Thailand holiday in June 2018
On vacation in Thailand

Now

How to lose weight with Hashimotos & PCOS

After losing weight, I’ve also gained a lot more confidence, however years of crushed self-esteem does get to me now and then. My Hashimoto’s symptoms such as fatigue are greatly reduced, but I do face really cold hands and feet and the hairfall. I know it’s a process. I’ll get there, as long as I stay consistent. I’ve decided to post this in the new year as all of us are talking about New Year’s resolutions and are probably making some headway on to the goals we have set for ourselves. But know that you need to work on them a little bit, everyday.

Finally, I feel a lot more like Aneesha. I feel like a lot more like…me.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about my journey and I’ll be happy to help! If you’d like the support, I’m also running a private PCOS Support Group on Facebook.

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8 Comments

  1. Curly sista! So proud of you for following through on your journey towards the best-you-ever! It takes major balls to go ahead and put your story out there in the world, so kudos to that. I just got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s myself and your post is speaking to me right now. You look amazing and please don’t ever feel low about yourself, you are and have always been such a positive influence to those around you (even when you don’t feel it yourself)! Congrats on everything else and girl, this is YOUR year! Go get ’em!

    1. Thank you curly sister!!! Took a lot of mettle to write this personal post, and trying to put myself in a place where I actually should be proud of my progress and not worry if people perceive this as attention seeking! It really isn’t. I really need to tell women who suffer from these conditions and feeling helpless that managing the disease is indeed possible!!

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