11 Lifestyle Changes to Make for Hypothyroidism

by Mary Shomon Patient Advocate

What lifestyle changes should you consider making to get the most out of your hypothyroidism treatment, and to feel and live well? Let’s take a look at some helpful changes you can start making today?

Healthy fruits and vegetables.

Get enough fiber in your diet

Unfortunately, an underactive thyroid often causes constipation and weight gain. To combat this, start integrating thyroid-safe, high-fiber foods and fiber supplements into your diet. Starting a high-fiber diet may affect your absorption of thyroid medication, so be sure to follow-up with your doctor after a dietary change.

Broccoli on cutting board.

Watch your intake of goitrogens

Don’t overdo it with raw goitrogenic foods. Goitrogens are compounds naturally found in some foods that make it more difficult for your thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. Foods high in goitrogens include cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, along with products made with soy. Steaming or cooking reduces their goitrogenic properties.

Drinking cup of coffee.

Take notice of when you drink morning coffee and milk

Be sure to time your morning coffee and milk correctly. It's important to wait at least an hour after taking your thyroid medication before you drink coffee and/or milk. Both drinks can affect the absorption of your thyroid medication, making it less effective.

Filling glass of water at tap.

Drink a lot of water

One of the most helpful things you can do to stoke your metabolism and improve fatigue is to drink more water. Water helps metabolism function, reduces constipation and bloat, and helps eliminate toxins from your body.

Exercising in living room.

Get regular exercise

By incorporating more cardio workouts into your schedule, you'll help boost your metabolism, as well as serotonin levels, both of which are often low in people with an underactive thyroid. Serotonin is a brain chemical that can affect your mood, appetite, and sleep cycle. Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week of physical activity and exercise.

Man doing push-ups to build muscle.

Build more muscle

The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. Because hypothyroidism can slow down your metabolism, consider lifting weights or doing other muscle-building exercises and activities.

Yoga meditation.

Reduce stress

Stress affects your body in many ways, but it's especially bad for your thyroid. Reactions to stress are controlled by the adrenal glands, which are often overworked and underactive in thyroid patients. Stress also increases cortisol levels, increasing hunger and raising insulin levels. Be sure to incorporate regular stress reduction — such as meditation, yoga, or breathing — into your daily activities.

Sleeping woman.

Get enough sleep

Hypothyroidism can make you especially tired and low in energy. It's important not only to have a regular sleep schedule but to aim for a minimum of seven hours per night, to help relieve ongoing fatigue.

Seaweed salad.

Watch your iodine intake

With iodine, too much or too little can both worsen thyroid problems. Before supplementing with iodine, however, consider getting tested. A blood or urine test can determine if you are low in iodine, and a candidate for iodine therapy.

Continuing care with doctor for thyroid.

Don’t accept less than optimal treatment

It's not enough for your doctor to hand you a thyroid prescription. You need optimal treatment — treatment that helps resolves your symptoms and normalizes your blood test results. Being undertreated can leave you exhausted, gaining weight, and still suffering from hypothyroidism symptoms. Don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.

Doctor and patient discussing concerns.

Be an advocate for yourself

Your doctor should be your partner in good healthcare. With a chronic health condition like hypothyroidism, you need to advocate for yourself with doctors and healthcare providers. Advocacy involves being prepared for appointments, taking notes, doing your own research, asking questions, bringing a friend when needed, and changing doctors when it’s necessary.

Mary Shomon
Meet Our Writer
Mary Shomon

Mary Shomon is a patient advocate and New York Times bestselling author who empowers readers with information on thyroid and autoimmune disease, diabetes, weight loss and hormonal health from an integrative perspective. Mary has been a leading force advocating for more effective, patient-centered hormonal healthcare. Mary also co-stars in PBS’ Healthy Hormones TV series. Mary also serves on HealthCentral’s Health Advocates Advisory Board.