Fighting Hypothyroidism

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the UK: I’m a 28 year year old female suffering from Hypothyroidism. I am really down because I am really overweight and when I’m down like this, I just comfort eat. This causes me to feel even more down so then I just eat again. It’s like a vicious cycle. I’m single and I’ve had a string of bad relationships in the past — my last boyfriend always pushed me to be a size zero and never accepted me for who I was. I have no self-confidence, I hate looking in the mirror and I hate who I have become. I feel ugly. I carry my gym kit with me to work with the intention of working out but by the end of the day, I have depleted energy and I just want to sleep. I want to take control of my life and stop eating to fill my sorrow. Right now, I have no control. Please help me.

A: I hope you are being treated for the hypothyroidism. There is no need to “suffer” from it. There are medications that can bring it under control. Once you are taking the right medication, you are still going to have to confront the task of losing the weight you’ve gained. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either.

If you wait until you have a healthier self-esteem to work on your goal of losing weight, you may never get there. Self esteem isn’t necessary to be successful. Rather, it comes from being successful at something you want to do.

If you want to take control, the best way to go about it is with others who are engaged in the same project. You need the support and practical help that can come from a group. Such programs as Weight Watchers and Over-eaters Anonymous are very successful because they provide both. (This is not to be understood as an endorsement of either program, only as examples. I’m sure there are other effective programs as well.)

Too shy for a group? Then find a “buddy” — someone else who has significant weight to lose and is willing to meet daily so you can monitor and encourage each other. You can do this in person or online. There’s nothing so supportive as talking with someone else who “gets it” and who is as committed to the project as you are.

Other hints I can offer:

  • Set reasonable intermediate goals. Rather than setting a goal to lose 50 pounds, aim for losing 1.5 pounds this week. Success tends to build on success.
  • Write down everything that goes in your mouth. There has been some research that shows that just writing a food diary helps people lose the weight. Writing it down before putting something in the mouth gives you time to think about what you are doing — so maybe you will change your mind.
  • Plan your menu for the next day the night before. Carefully write out what you plan to eat and when. Then you won’t be confronted with impulsive decisions.
  • Build snacking on healthy foods into your diet so you don’t feel hungry and deprived. Make sure you include plenty of fruit and veggies.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Often people who are tired eat to get an energy boost.
  • Make sure you are hydrated. Often people mistake thirst for hunger.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Fighting Hypothyroidism. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/02/fighting-hypothyroidism/

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