Healthy living and diet

Managing your weight can be a challenge when your thyroid hormone levels are not well controlled as it can mean your metabolism may be working at the wrong speed: either too slowly (hypothyroidism) or too quickly (hyperthyroidism). However, looking after yourself and eating a healthy and balanced diet will help you feel well and put you in a good position to manage your thyroid disorder. Try to stick to a diet that includes eating a sensible variety of foods in the correct proportions.

Some people find they are particularly sensitive to certain kinds of foods, for example, sugar and carbohydrates are known for making your energy levels fluctuate so a diet higher in protein and (good) fats can be beneficial.

You can save a lot of money and have a better chance of keeping yourself healthy if you plan your meals across the week and make sure you cook from fresh as many days as you can manage it. Some people find that doing lots of food preparation on a Sunday and storing the results in either the fridge or freezer makes the working week easier. Learning some simple recipes so you can cook for yourself is an excellent life skill to have, and there are many places where you can go and learn such skills if you haven’t had the opportunity up to now. There are some really excellent cook books that focus on healthy meals which can be cooked in less time than it takes to order a takeaway and have it delivered.

Sport and exercise

Most people find that regular exercise provides a host of different benefits. Here are just some of the ways taking part in sport and having regular exercise can help you to keep well. It can:

  • relieve stress and anxiety
  • improve your mood
  • increase your muscle tone and strengthen your bones
  • provide an opportunity to mix with other people, or to spend time by yourself if you feel you need headspace
  • help with weight management
  • manage fatigue
  • keep your body clock in good order (if you exercise outside)
  • improve sleep

When young people are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, dealing with the symptoms, and erratic energy levels can be challenging. Once your thyroid hormone levels are back under control there are lots of very good reasons to include regular exercise into your daily life. You should always be guided by how you feel, and how much exercise you are comfortably able to do.

You might need to think about how best to incorporate some physical activities. Some people do best if they break it into small chunks during the day, for example, starting the day with some very simple stretching exercises can help to keep your back in good order. This could be followed by a short walk in the morning as part of your commute and then getting outside at lunchtime for another walk. Another walk as part of your evening commute might help keep you in good order during your working week. If you have the energy and inclination, you might think about finding another activity at the weekend, and remember that housework counts as a workout.

If you are in any doubt about what would be the best exercise for you have a chat to your doctor.

Social life

Whether or not they have a thyroid disorder, most teenagers will face decisions about alcohol and recreational drugs. Your parents or carers may have warned you about the dangers of drinking too much or of drug-taking and your school will also have given you information and advice. Having a thyroid disorder doesn’t change any of this advice.

Smoking can worsen the symptoms of Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease and should be avoided. There is no available research about the health impact of e-cigarettes on people with thyroid disease.

Having a thyroid disorder should not impact on your physical relationships.

Social anxiety is very common, and we’re all different when it comes to how we’re comfortable spending time with other people. And it’s OK not to be a party animal. Spending time with other people can be the most tiring workout you can give your mind, but becoming socially isolated is not good for us either. If you have energy problems you might want to think about when is the best time for you to spend time with others and the ways in which you do that. Doing something such as going to the cinema with a friend can be a nice way of spending time with someone without tiring yourself out. Some people find it easier to be around others where you’re all working on a shared task as it takes the focus off you. The key is pacing yourself and remembering that you don’t have to do everything all the time. Remember, a bit of planning can go a long way to making sure your energy stays balanced so you get to do more of the things that you’d like to.

Taking your medication and having regular blood tests

School, college and university and work

What to do if you’re struggling to cope

Transition from paediatric to adult care

If you have any suggestions or feedback about the information in our resources, or if you'd like to share your own experiences of living with a thyroid disorder, we'd love to hear from you. Please get in touch.