Hypothyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid does not produce enough hormones to run all of the body functions at a normal rate. This can cause both mental and physical fatigue, weight gain, intolerance to cold, a slow heart rate and constipation. Many patients with hypothyroidism often find losing weight, or even maintaining a normal weight, difficult. Despite these problems, the hypothyroid patient can maintain weight or even lose it if he sticks close to a regulated diet.
The thyroid is responsible for the proper functioning of the heart, lungs, digestive system, skin and brain and for strengthening hair, nails and bones. It also helps the body convert calories into energy and process carbohydrates. Since the body needs extra help to process and convert elements of food into nutrients and energy, a hypothyroid patient should either stick to a low to moderate carbohydrate diet or a traditional low-calorie diet.
A low carbohydrate diet is one that restricts the amount of carbohydrates consumed in a day. This causes the body to burn fat for fuel and energy instead of carbohydrates. Hypothyroid patients should eat foods that are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals but low in carbohydrates. Green vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, pumpkin and radishes are all healthy, low carbohydrate vegetables. While pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans and black beans are more moderate in carbohydrate count, they should still be eaten, because they are healthy sources of protein. Avoid white breads, pasta, potatoes, corn and foods rich in sugar. Most fruits can be eaten in small quantities, but the best fruits for this type of diet are berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.
A low calorie diet limits the number of calories a person can consume in one day. A typical diet is about 1,500 calories per day. Individual meal intake should be about 500 calories. Eating mini meals or snacking is not recommended for the hypothyroid patient. According to Mary J. Shomon, author of "Living Well with Hypothyroidism," eating mini-meals will actually make the hypothyroid patient's metabolism slow down.
Eat meals at a regular time every day, and never eat anything after dinner.
The hypothyroid patient often has overly dry skin that cracks, peels or becomes brittle. Drinking lots of water will help the skin retain elasticity and control some skin dryness. Daily recommended water intake for a male is 3 liters and for a female, about 2.2 liters. Keeping the body hydrated will also aid in weight loss.