I was diagnosed in 2013 with hypothyroidism and then subsequently with Hastimotos, an auto-immune disorder a couple months later. I was so distressed that managing hypothyroidism while travelling would be a big issue.
Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.
Inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an under active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Symptoms vary from individual to individual. Some people can live the majority of their lives and not know that “something is wrong”, much like I did until something was wrong – it was all simply my normal day to day. Other people can find themselves overtly suffering from:
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- Memory lapses
While I have had to make some lifestyle changes and choices in terms of what I eat and exercise, one thing that has NOT changed is my love of travel and the immense wanderlust I feel when grounded in Toronto.
At first, I thought that travelling with with an autoimmune disorder was going to be a curse. I mean, I’d have to bring medication that I am going to be on every day for the rest of my life and deal with some of the symptoms that sometimes rear their ugly head… However, I have found that taking care of and managing hypothyroidism while travelling is very manageable.
If you are reading this, it’s likely because you have hypothyroidism or you will be travelling with someone who does have it. If you have any additional tips of your own of managing hypothyroidism while you are travelling, I’d love to read them.
Here are some of my tips to keeping on top of your hypothyroidism while travelling:
1.) Take your medication at the same time everyday just like you would at home. When you are travelling within your same timezone, it’s easy, but when you are going forward or backward in time is when it gets tricky, but set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.
2.) When you are flying or travelling by train, make sure you pack your medication in your carry on luggage too reduce the risk of it getting lost. I always pack a couple extra synthroid pills in my purse as a back up – in case my flight gets delayed going home or if I miss count my vacation or travel days.
3.) Bring a copy of your prescription just in case. We never want to have to do a run to a pharmacy, but you never know what can happen.
4.) If you have been put on a restricted diet by your doctor, do your best to stick to it. I’m one of the
lucky ones that passed the gluten sensitivity test, so I do not have to deal with celiac type symptoms as well, but I do have to avoid certain foods and ingredients or suffer from flare ups. The quickest way to send myself off kilter and ruin my week is by eating anything cooked in canola oil. Running to the salad bar at a buffet seems like a great idea, but you have to remember to steer clear of goitrogens (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) as well as foods from the soy food group (tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, soy milk, etc)
5.) Since it’s likely you’ll be dining out while travelling and not preparing your own meals, stick to ordering and consuming the following foods:
- Eggs: Whole eggs are best, as much of the iodine and selenium are found in the yolk, while the whites are full of protein.
- Meats: All meats, including lamb, beef, chicken, etc.
- Fish: All seafood, including salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp, etc.
- Vegetables: Most vegetables are fine to eat. Cruciferous vegetables are fine to eat in moderate amounts, especially when cooked.
- Fruits: berries, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, etc.
- Source out gluten-free grains and seeds be safe: Rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds and flaxseed.
- Dairy: All dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. is okay as long as you’re not consuming their foods 4-6 hours within taking your medication.
- Beverages: Water and other non-caffeinated beverages.
6.) If you are doing hotel stays, try to book one with a gym so that you can stay on top of your fitness regime, as we all know as those suffering from hypothyroidism, we need to get moving, it’s a matter of life or death… even when we don’t have a shred of energy left, take 5 more steps.
Please note – I am not a doctor or a medical professional and I cannot give you advice about how to treat your thyroid condition. I am only sharing what works for me. Please consult your doctor or medical professional if you have any questions about your symptoms or medication.