Disordered Eating

I need help. I have hypothyroidism and I take 150mgs. The trouble is that no matter what I do, I can't shift the weight. My eating is getting more and more disordered (I have suffered from an ED in my youth). If I am not restricting what I eat, then I am purging what I do eat (not binging though). I exercise as much as I can - last Saturday I did 4 hours on the treadmill. I am getting to the point where I think if I put any food in my mouth, I will gain weight. I am certainly NOT losing weight.

I tried talking to my doctor and her response was "you are in the normally weight range. You need to learn to chill".

But she is wrong! I am 5,3 and 133lbs. At 9 1/2 stone, that makes me on the heavy side. My ideal weight should be between 105 and 120lbs. Somewhere around 8 stone.

Is there something else to do with my thyroid that could be making it hard to lose weight (unless I restrict to below 500 calories a day?)

I know what I am doing is unhealthy but if I eat like normal people, I would be morbidly obese in no time.



20 Replies

  • I just read in another article that someone posted a link to - sorry, can't find it now but can't be many posts away from yours - that over exercising is one of the things that can hinder conversion from T4 to T3. Four hours on the treadmill sounds like a lot of exercise to me. Might be worth investigating?

  • Yes this is true. You also gain fluid with more exercise, I believe. You may not be tackling fat loss but fluid could be an issue. My new gym put me on a massive weight loss regime treadmill, weights etc to prove it wasn't my Hypo that was causing the weight loss. It backfired! I Gained weight! Once I stopped with the 'over' exercise my weight dropped, but unfortunately only down to my previous overweight reading. Stop the over exercise 4 hours on the treadmill is far too much, I did 45 mins and half and hour with weights and gained weight.

  • Have you any recent results you can give us and the ranges? Over the last 40 years my weight increased by 5 stone and still slowly on the up. With the help I've received by joining the forum I thought that either I wasn't converting properly or absorbing so started supplementing. Over the last 6 months I've lost over half a stone and feel and look much better. Alongside that I took advantage of one of those Living Social Deals and had a food intolerance test which showed vitamins still on the lower side and numerous food problems. Consequently I think I am eating better and also eating less. The different factors are certainly helping but I am still aware that my thyroid function could be better so found another Endo and in the middle of numerous tests. Looking at the wider picture has helped me but the clue was in my test results.

  • The so called normal weights are not that relevant if you lead a very athletic lifestyle. Don't forget that muscle weighs more than fat! If your doctor thinks that you are fine then be pleased and relax. Your weight is important if it becomes too much for your joints and heart, but otherwise your health is most important.

    (The weight charts are not designed for people who lead an athletic lifestyle. If you take BMI readings then George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio would be obese based on those readings. I know myself that having been under a blood pressure clinic in the past, the nurse weighed me at every appointment and one day confided in me that she could not believe my weight, as she weighed people every day and could look at someone and know how much they weighed. With me I weighed more than she expected. She realised that this was because I had a healthy lifestyle and had good muscle unlike the other patients. My clothes and shape did not reflect my weight!)

    You say that you had an ED in the past. I am not sure that these ever completely go away and so your own view of your weight may be slightly distorted? I went on an LCD with less than 450 cals a day (and lost very little weight over a 3 month period despite going to the gym and taking and teaching yoga). I know that when I started this diet they advised anyone who had had an ED not to do it as it is too easy for them to slip back into the controlling ways of before and make themselves very ill. In fact lots of people do become ill on this well known diet and some even die, so please do not consider eating less than 500 calories! Your body can also react to very low calories as if there is a famine and will store fat until it knows that there will be food again, so LCDs can be counterproductive.

    Please relax a little on this. Make sure that you eat a healthy and nourishing diet and look after yourself. If you are trying to lose weight with 4 hours on a treadmill then that is excessive to most people. Perhaps a 4 hour hike in the countryside would be a healthier alternative? Something that you could do with a friend as well, which helps you have a healthy outlook, and might help relieve some of the anxiety feelings that hypo can bring.

    The aim of the medication is to help you feel healthy and have the amount of energy you should have without the aches and pains that make it difficult/sometimes impossible to walk and reduce the fuzzy headedness/loss of memory etc. It looks as if you have achieved this and your weight is within the normal range.

    It is time to be happy with yourself!

  • PiggySue,

    False info. Muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. Which weighs more, a pound of butter or a pound of sugar? They weigh the same but they look different. Or the favorite, a ton of feathers or a ton iron. You're going to have a lot more feathers for your ton.

    The problem is that the muscle develops along side the fat while the fat stays for a while. Therefore one weighs more for a while until they lose the fat through proper diet and exercise. That's why it's recommended that you don't obsessively weigh yourself. Once a week will do fine.


    Too much exercise and not enough food causes one to keep their weight and usually you'll keep the fat on because the body wants to store it for a starving day. And that starving day for you is right now because you're over exercising.

    The Harris-Benedict Formula gives you an estimate of what to eat versus how much to exercise. You plug in numbers and get an estimated amount of calories to eat according to your everyday activity level. This includes sleeping and everything else you do.

    You can find the formula on the www.

    It's basically this:

    For women: Calculate your BMR or basal metabolic rate:

    BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )

    Multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor:

    I'd say since you are doing hard exercise/sports you're Very Active and your formula is

    BMR x 1.725

    This gives you the approximate number of calories to eat each day to MAINTAIN your weight.

    If you want to lose weight subtract a MAXIMUM of 500 calories a day from this number. If you were more overweight like me, you could subtract more calories. However, at your weight and level of exercise your body would believe it's starving. The closer you get to your ideal weight, the more difficult it is to lose the weight.

    Back when I lost weight according to this formula, I ate between 2500 and 3000 calories AND I lost weight. I exercised, lifted weights (not heavy ones), and ate healthy.

    The problem with the strenuous exercise you're doing is it taxes the thyroid gland and actually doesn't benefit you. So while you're doing great exercising you're harming your body with over exercising. Believe me, I was over exercising, cycling at racing speeds and it caused more harm than good. Now I'm starting over at a moderate pace on my cycle and eating right and the weight is coming off. At the same time I've got peace of mind knowing I'm not stressing out my thyroid.

    Another rule of thumb I learned while on a support group for exercise/eating/weight loss. If you're sick from the neck up continue with your exercise program. If you're sick below the neck, take a break. There was an actor on Jimmy Fallon recently who exercised on his treadmill while nursing a separated deltoid muscle and taking painkillers. They showed the video on television, the man's arm in a sling and him plodding along on the treadmill. If that wasn't the stupidest thing I'd ever seen. What a terrible example that actor made of exercising for health.

    I've learned one thing on my journey to weight loss and better health. There are extremes everywhere I read on the internet and watch on television. I just need to find a healthy middle ground, and I'll get there one pound at a time.

    Sorry for the length. Hope this helps.

  • My befuddled hashi brain did not clarify that I meant by volume, muscle fibre is much denser than fat, I believe. You can therefore carry a lot of muscle and weigh a lot but be fairly slim. I work in a sports department with cricketers, rugby players, hockey players and runners and it is interesting to see how their different body types have developed and how they change when they (incessantly) diet. Yet most of them are quite heavy compared to most men who are in the same sized clothes.

  • Hi there, Piggy Sue has given good advice.

    I can sympathise that you don't feel right with what seems to you like lots of extra weight, but trying to lose more by eating 500 calories won't help as your body thinks it is being starved and stores as much fat as it can; the thyroid also slows down, lowering your metabolism even further. A balanced diet with lots of veg and protein and something like 1500 calories might be better for you. Can you get advice from a nutritionist?

    Were you a lot lighter in the past? Were you usually about 8 stone? How long since you have put on the extra weight?

    I am smaller than you at 5 ft 2 in and weigh 131 lbs and am actually quite pleased to be that weight, but I have always been over 9 stone even from my early teens. At my heaviest times I have reached nearly 11 stone and that was very uncomfortable! I have in the past gone to Weightwatchers and found that plan effective but they do cost money. More recently I have just tried to cut out rubbish and eat smaller portions of carbs (i.e. bread, potatoes, rice, pasta) and more veg and chicken and fruit. I should add that I have been on Levo for the past 12 years or so following a total thyroidectomy. I did put on some weight after that but managed to lose it again.

    As others have said you don't seem to be overweight for your height so try not to worry so much about it.

  • I'm sorry, but i don't agree with what was said here. It is not about being happy with yourself and excepting being hypo. If you can't lose weight no matter what you do, it is because your metabolism is too slow. No one should except that. If you could lose weight and tone up in the past and can't now, it needs to be addressed. It is not healthy and i wonder what else is wrong..high cholesterol etc..

    I was ill in bed and gained 11lbs in 1 week, a total of 30lbs in 3 months when my thyroid quit working. It had nothing to do with what i ate or drank. I was not able to eat much, because my stomach stopped digesting food. I was living on liquid and have had many, many months of this, that still continue, for months at a time, for the past 4 frickin years. My whole life, my weight went down when i was ill for prolonged periods..not this time. The last few months, i was living on salads and when i got some energy back, i started exercising 7 days a week, all the while gaining. It is fluid and myxedema, which is an accumulation of mucin and mucopolysaccarides, in the skin..i can't pinch my skin. google it. Do you have a lumpy looking fatty, soft stuff in your mid section, arms, legs? go to youtube and look up the skin pinch test for hypothyroidism. Does your tongue have tooth mark indentations on the side? This is myxedema.

    The only way the scale and myxedema budged for me, is when i went on t3 only. I became hyper, panicked and added t4 back and now i'm swelling again and my weight is going up. It is horrible and frightening, the whole thing. It has ruined my looks..my face, eyes, swell..i look and feel terrible. It has messed up my mental state. I have very little control of how much i swell, how i look, how i feel or what the scale says. I have only run across a few people where thyroid meds just don't work well. I think my Hashi's is just really bad.

  • Hi Faith

    I don't think we intended to belittle the problems of being hypo and I am sorry if it came over like that. We all can only comment on the information the original poster has provided and, for the most part, out of our own experiences.

    Shaws gave a lengthy and good response to a similar question from Ednosannie about 9 months ago which highlighted the evidence that people with hypothyroid do have difficulty with weight loss. Recommendations were also given about relevant thyroid medication. Here is the link to that post. healthunlocked.com/thyroidu...

  • I did not mean to imply that you should be happy with being hypo - I most certainly have not been and so have started self-medicating. I am fed up with no help.

    I exercised moderately - for anything between 25 minutes and 45 minutes doing 80rpm on the stationery bike and following that with yoga - every day despite the pain, before I started onT4 - but to no avail other than to feel exhausted. I am also now able to breath and sweat which makes such a lot of difference (although it does sound revolting, as does the fact that I now have to think about epilation again for the first time in 5 years)!

    I have been predominantly Atkins or Paleo for years, but the doctors have just told me to eat less and exercise more. Meanwhile I just gained - in the end over 3 stone. My arthritis got worse, I thought with the weight, and I was prescribed stronger and stronger pain killers, which wiped me out and did nothing for the pain, so that in the end I learnt to put up with the pain. Most of that pain has now gone since I started on T4 - it is wonderful to be able to go somewhere and not worry about where I can park, because I can now walk for more than 20 minutes without crippling pain. The palpitations and near fainting has also stopped and I am beginning to feel almost normal (as far as I can remember it)!

    I do appreciate from reading this forum that I am very lucky that T4 appears to be helping me, although it is still early days - I have only been taking it for about 3 weeks and have had to increase the dose much faster than I had intended.

    There is enough to worry about when you are hypo or hashi's without beating yourself up about how you look, especially if you are within the normal ranges. I try to dress as well as I can (I love a bit of sale shopping) although I have found it difficult as my shape has completely changed, and I try to be groomed - I don't know if anyone else has noticed how with hypo/hashis it is much cheaper, who still needs waxing?!

    I have decided to be happy with myself, I hope the medication will (very slowly now, sadly, after that initial loss) keep my weight coming down bit by bit and as long as I am doing what I can to try and get a stable weight and keep myself as healthy as possible, then I can't do more.

    I can't cope with my life and job and 3 kids and mostly absent husband with hypo as well! But my appearance and technical weight is the least of it. I now have the energy to help my children to do their homework and to cook their dinner instead of asking my eldest (since she was only 12yrs old) to do it, as I was just too tired. I am hoping that now that I am recovering physically my children won't have to ask me if they are young carers after these things are discussed at school. That has to be one of the most disturbing conversations that I have had!

  • Did you have a lot of swelling..fluid retention, swollen eyes, face, hands, feet and myxedema..thickened skin? Did it ever improve? I feel like i live in Hell. No control over my body or how i feel. It is very difficult to cope.

    Thank you

  • I am sorry that it is so bad for you. Are you being treated?

    If not can you afford to have private blood tests? If you can you can get the results 'read' by others on here, who have vast experience and can help you to analyse what the problem is.

    If you are being treated then maybe you are sensitive to whatever else is in the T4 you are taking? Maybe you cannot convert to T3? Again if you can get a private blood test to show your T4, Free T4 and T3 levels then someone on here can help you to analyse the results.

    The doctors knew for the last 7 or more years that I have high levels of peroxidase antibodies, but wouldn't treat me because of the TSH. I could barely walk and had bad pain in my legs, which often felt as if they would give way. I also felt quite paranoid and often weepy.

    I clearly did have a lot of fluid retention, I could no longer see my cheek bones and realised that everyone thought of me as round faced, when I had always been known for high cheekbones! My hands and feet were unrecognisable to me and I had to have all my rings taken up by 2 sizes but they were still tight - (even when pregnant with the twins in my second pregnancy I could wear normal shoes and my wedding ring).

    I have lost a fair bit of weight, maybe just under a stone, all of it water I believe as it went so fast and people are saying how much slimmer I look. I still have at least a couple of stone to go, which I know may or may not go. The exciting thing is that I can move normally again and have the energy that I had 10 years ago. Most of the crippling pain has gone as well - maybe that was oedema internally and it was pressing on nerves in my pelvis creating sciatica?

    I do hope that you can get yourself better - whether with or without your doctor's help. I do understand what you mean about a living hell - I felt more like an 80yr old (and a worn out one at that) rather than the 49 year old that I am. Life is no longer such a struggle and in my case it has been really simple to solve - I bought T4 over the counter when on holiday. I will have regular private blood tests to make sure everything is still okay and will monitor my blood pressure as this has always been high. I would prefer to be properly monitored by my GP, but that was not happening anyway!

    Good luck.

  • Thank you..i do have reverse t3 issues..i don't convert well, have monitored it for nearly 2 years. As a last resort, i have gone to t3 only. Thank you for sharing your story..it gives me hope. I have been totally depressed..i don't recognize myself and am very self conscious. I have been trying to treat this since 2011, sick since the end of 2008, when i went hyper, i know what it was now, but the pushed psychiatric drugs on me, which set up a whole group of other problems. It has been a nightmare. Did you have insomnia and racing heart when trying to sleep?

  • I have a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and glucose test kit..like an old sick person. Sometimes i feel like i am not getting enough air.

  • Have you had your ferritin checked? I thought that I had asthma, but my breathlessness got better once I was told by the doctor to double my ferrous fumarate dose. You should get it checked though, as iron can be quite dangerous if you don't need it!

    I have just upped my dose of thyroxin, faster than I would have intended if I could get the thyroxin here. This has meant that I have been waking in the night and have had the racing heart, but this had previously stopped. I will carry on with this dose until the end of this week and see if it has settled down and intend to go for another private blood test next week to find out if the bloods are improving. I certainly feel so much better! I hope that you can work out what you need to get there!

  • ferritin was over midrange..i take iron 2x per week or so. I have decided no more labs. i have developed scar tissue in both arms from years of draws..i'm done.

    i hope you get well too.

  • Thank you..i hope i hear back from her. I can relate to her experience. Not eating doesn't help..it is the utter loss of control over your body that is so horrifying.

  • faith63,

    I quote the original poster:

    "My eating is getting more and more disordered (I have suffered from an ED in my youth). If I am not restricting what I eat, then I am purging what I do eat (not binging though). "

    You're talking about not eating because of thyroid disease and the original post is talking about not eating because of an eating disorder.

    I understand about not eating because of thyroid disease. I've been through that numerous times. I've suffered from subacute thyroiditis 9 times, yes 9 separate times, and every time I gained more and more weight. When the thyroid goes bonkers I don't eat much of anything. I'm not hungry. That would be normal. Boy do I hate that word, but it's true. And exercise? Impossible while in the throws of a bout of subacute thyroiditis.

  • Read my reply to Claudiasmum, sorry can't seem to cut and paste on my Surface. I gained half a stone!

  • ... also not eating will put weight on you even moreso with Hypo. Little and often is better for sensible weight control. Having an ED with Hypo confuses it even more, your body will be confused. ;). Also, water, your body will store water too if it doesn't get enough of what it needs, and will store like fat. 2 - 3 litres daily. You state you have an ED, but without actually looking at your food diary it's difficult for any one of us to advice. Your weight will be a battle with this issue. Also if you do have an ED you 'may' and I put this with the deepest respect and sensitivity be over concerned about your weight or image. I have worked with this and have painful personal experiences on this condition. Feed back and let us know if you are considering any changes to your regime. ;)

    Best wishes x

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