Friday, March 6, 2015

Low Iodine Diet

Of all the fad diets I have investigated over the years, this is not one I have previously experienced.  On Monday I will begin this diet for two weeks to prepare for my radioactive iodine treatment on March 23, 2015.  After the hospital stay in isolation, when I come home on the Wednesday night, I can resume my normal routine and diet.  

A low iodine diet (LID) means food and drinks that contain as little iodine as possible. Iodine is a mineral found naturally in many foods, especially those from the sea.  In Canada, iodine is added to table salt, this is called iodized salt.  We use non-iodized sea salt here at home, but I still have to be careful of the naturally occurring iodine in the salt.

In a LID, the total amount of iodine permitted per day is less than 50 micrograms.  For example, the amount equal to the amount found in less than 1/8 teaspoon of iodized table salt. 

I adore salt.  It is amazing that I have low blood pressure, given the amount of salt I consume.  True story, it is my dietary weakness.

Is a LID the same as a low sodium diet?  No. Salt is also called sodium chloride... I will need to avoid iodized salt and sea salt because they contain iodine, not sodium. 

A low iodine diet starves the body of iodine. Any remaining thyroid cells I have will crave iodine more than anything else.  When the radioactive iodine is given (I will simply swallow one capsule), the thyroid cells will take up the radiated iodine, which destroys thyroid cells, including those that are cancerous.  

Iodine comes from many food sources: 
  • in dairy products, because iodine occurs naturally in milk and because the solutions used to clean cows and milking equipment may contain iodine
  • naturally in many foods such as fish and sea foods
  • in foods coloured with red food dye (erythrosine/red dye #3)
For two weeks I will have to avoid:
  • milk and milk products, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter 
  • meat and alternatives - any meat or poultry prepared with salt or brine (thankfully I have a Butcher friend who can help me out if I get stuck with a meat craving? Plus I have some gift beef from my Richardson family which is processed in a small local place, clean, and my Hunter friend gave me some venison- yum) Thanks guys! 
  • soy and soy products
  • egg yolks (eeek, this one I will miss, I do eat eggs every day)
  • breads, cereals, or crackers made with salt, egg yolks, soya or dairy products. HA good luck finding that around here.  I see a lot of green smoothies happening in the next two weeks
  • red-coloured ready-to-eat cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, maraschino cherries (ok no problem on these ones)
  • mayonnaise, salad dressings, peanut butter, jar salsa, pickles, olives
  • all restaurant and take-out food, including black coffee
  • milk chocolate (WHAT?!?)
  • medications or vitamins that include salt or milk
  • skin creams or antiseptics that contain iodine, such as betadine
Fun times.... Okay now to prepare myself for what I CAN eat for this time... this weekend I will be getting some stuff ready, I already got some of my favourite dried legumes and I am handy at making those so I will soak and cook up my kidney beans, romano beans, chick peas. Mmmm I love fresh-cooked chick peas with just Tabasco sauce and a bit of olive oil!  Oh wait, Tabasco likely has a bit of salt?  Well a couple drops will not make up that 1/8 teaspoon. 

I will be permitted to consume:
  • coffee/tea without milk or cream (though I usually use almond milk at home anyway, it contains salt so I will be careful)
  • fruit smoothies made without dairy or soy 
  • salads, raw veggies, fresh fruit 
  • honey, maple syrup, white or brown sugar
  • unsalted dairy-free margarine (NOT for me!! blech!)
  • dairy-free sorbet
  • olive oil, balsamic, home-made dressing (my inner-Italian is great with those)
  • egg whites
  • unsalted nuts
  • rice, oatmeal, couscous
  • lentils, beans, legumes
  • homemade beef stew
  • unsalted rice cakes or popcorn? (I doubt I'll get that desperate)
  • beer, wine, and spirits (YES - it actually says that on the brochure LOL)
I did spend a couple years as a dairy-free vegetarian, so these LID restrictions are not entirely foreign to me.  On the other hand though, the cranky-grumpy that comes with not being able to have milk chocolate or a bagel with cream cheese is not foreign to me either.

In addition, on Monday I have to stop taking all thyroid hormone replacement medication, in order to make my body hypothyroid.  Hormones released by the thyroid gland (in my case hormones replaced by meds) travel through the bloodstream and affect nearly every part of the body, from the heart and brain, to the muscles and skin. The thyroid controls how the body's cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism. Among other things, metabolism affects body temperature, heartbeat, and how well you burn calories. Without enough thyroid hormone, body processes slow down. That means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.  

Sluggish-metabolism-Natalie + no-salt-Natalie = a-LOT-of-time-in-the-basement-Natalie! 

By the time I get to the end of the two weeks, we will all be ready for me to spend three days in isolation at the hospital, I'm sure!  

I feel prepared to go on this LID, I will embrace the preparation for the radioactive iodine, it is my last stab at thyroid cancer.  My physicians tell me that after this treatment we "should" be safe to consider thyroid cancer behind us, so hey, two weeks is a breeze compared to the thyroidectomy and post-surgery recovery/trauma/scar.  Couple weeks of no salt but lots of wine, by myself, in my cozy basement? Gee thanks thyroid cancer!  Kinda fitting in with my preferred way to spend time anyway! teehee  ;-)  

 (Source: brochure provided by endocrinologist, and

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