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Rashi Chowdhary: The Thyroid Series Part 1

Rashi Chowdhary. To Vogue India, she is the winner of the Nutritionist of the Year Award 2019. To India, she is one of the leading celebrity nutritionists with clients to boast of including Bahubhali’s Tamannaah Bhatia and the new sensationin Bollywood Rakul Preet Singh. To Dubai, the place she now calls home, she is the creator and face of the Protein Bake Shop. To me…she is my friend of a decade long friendship that grew through our own personal ups and downs. She is also the woman who helped me balance my hormones and start magically living a life free of hormonal issues just by changing the way I eat.

In this series, we decided to do topics that affect a large majority of the population – both male and female. This is a three part series and you will be getting different fun material that will hopefully change your life. This series will cover Thyroid issues, how to manage having thyroid, how to ween off medication and how to manage weight gain or emotions that come with hypo and hyper thyroid. So, without any further delay, let’s get started with the basic insight on thyroid from Rashi:


Thyroid seems very common these days in both women and men. What is the root cause of thyroid? Is it something  we eat that ends up triggering it over time ?

We use to believe that thyroid is genetic and only if someone from your family has it, the chances of you having thyroid at some point were high. Now we know that this is far away from the truth. Before I dive into why we get thyroid issues, I really wanted to talk a little bit about some uncommon symptoms that go unnoticed and can delay diagnosis. Living with Thyroid can be really hard and knowing that you have it can help you put efforts into the right direction and get started on healing it.

If you resonate with any of the following symptoms, please get your Thyroid levels tested.

  1. SIBO can be very common amongst thyroid patients. I don’t usually like making my clients do too many tests cause the diet I give is super anti-inflammatory, I do a 2-4 Week gut cleanse with most clients and know that even if they have a digestive issues like gas, bloating, belching etc, all of those anyway disappear in less than 2 weeks, if they continue, then I make them run some tests and most often the ones with SIBO, take longer to heal and also have underlying hypothyroid that has gone unnoticed.
  2. Period Issues: I’ve spoken a lot about this on my Instagram, Both hypo and hyper thyroid can have an effect on our menstrual cycles so irregular periods, very scanty bleeding or heavy bleeding and mood swings.
  3. Loss of smell or taste for food: Hypothyroid particularly can have an effect on your sensory pleasures like taste and smell when it comes to food. This is also one reason, people tend to gain weight cause they can’t taste and smell food the way they use to so they feel the need to eat more to feel satisfied.
  4. You skin turning slightly greyish and really dry, losing one third of your outer eyebrow and sudden hair  loss are also signs of thyroid, but these are not uncommon nor are they early signs.

Coming back to the causes, we now know, most people have auto immune Thyroid and have no clue about it.

So the first cause I would  like to cover is this. In auto immune thyroid, your body starts to attack your own healthy thyroid cells, it confuses it for an unhealthy foreign particle. Your body thinks it ix protecting you, but actually it is just working against you. From all the research I’ve done, one of the reasons this particular cause is so common is because of the consumption of wheat. Even if it’s organic. The structure of Glaidin in wheat is very similar to that of the cells of thyroid gland, Wheat ,on getting digested, has an acidic reside and also causes inflammation in the gut. Your immune system is actually trying to protect you by attacking the Glaidin cells but due to “molecular mimicry “ it attacks the healthy thyroid cells causing Auto immunity.The solution is to drastically reduce the consumption of wheat in every form. There are other reasons for auto immunity as well. It could be a medication ( which is why it is important to ask your doctor about side effects before popping any pills)

The second and lesser known reason why thyroid disorders are so common amongst women is because we menstruate and that causes a whole lot of fluctuations in Progesterone, Estrogen and other hormones. Since so much is now changing with how we are externally, the amount of stress we take, the type of jobs we do , that sometimes, internally,, our body finds it hard to catch up. Our hormonal shifts are natural but our inability to balance those and our inability to create a nourishing environment mentally and physically to heal them is what causes  disorders like Hypothyroid. Have an important business trip coming up, and we will pop a pill to delay our period, if our partners don’t want to use a condom for protection, we pop a contraceptive DAILY, bloat, feel like throwing up but still continue to have it so they can enjoy sex  (I have no issues if you love sex without a condom too, but if its taking a toll on you, please speak up) We are sleep deprived some days because we have deadlines to reach and the stress we put on ourselves to keep it all together causes more hormonal chaos. All of these lifestyle issues coupled with the fact that we have hormonal shifts every month, makes women at a higher risk of developing Hashimotos, which is an auto immune hypothyroid. We are 5-8 times more likely to have thyroid than men. Lastly, for a lot of women, taking OCP’S has become very common and we now know that taking OCP’s depletes our nutrient stores specially zinc. Zinc helps in the communication between your thyroid hormone and cell receptor. Just by depleting zinc, the pill can prevent you from making and activating thyroid hormone.

If one is on thyroid  meds how should they manage taking the meds? Do Certain foods help the absorption better ?   

Before we jump to medication, I highly recommend if you are reading this and you are concerned about your thyroid gland, get a complete thyroid panel done. You need to get the following done. TSH , total T3 , Total T4, Free T3, Free T4, and Anti bodies ( TPO + TG) Reading these levels properly is very important.



TSH is the hormone that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. TSH test becomes worthless..If your hypothalamus and pituitary are not doing their thing cause the stops on the signaling pathway can get messed up for various reasons. You can’t rely onTSH alone, if you have symptoms.

Regular ref range is 0.5 to 4.7 but in most cases above 2 means you will have symptoms and can treat this as a warning sign.


Free T4

Your thyroid makes mostly T4, also known as thyroxine. Thyroxine is the storage form of thyroid hormone — it circulates in the bloodstream, then your tissues store it. When an area of your body needs energy, it gets converted into the active form, T3. .

Optimal Free T4 range: 10-23 pmol/L (but above 11 means the imbalance has already started)



When your tissues ned energy, they convert T4 into Free T3, the active form. Sometimes your thyroid makes sufficient hormone, but you don’t convert it, so you’ll get hypothyroid symptoms. This is generally the reason your energy levels fizzle out mid way in the gym.

Free T3: above 5.5 pmol/L means thyroid function is moving towards hypo.


Antibodies  (TPO + AT)

If either one or both of these antibodies test high, that means your immune system attacks the thyroid. That means you have one of two autoimmune thyroid diseases — Hashimoto’s thyroiditis if you’re hypothyroid, and Graves’ disease if you’re hyperthyroid .Ideally both should be less than 10 or negligible but if they are a double digit or more, it is a cause of concern.

Is it possible to manage this over time with  just nutrition? What are your recommendations to get off the meds, lose weight and feel better ?

YES! Of course it is and you will be surprised to see how the levels mentioned above will start to improve and change within 6 weeks of doing some of the stuff that I’m recommending.

Food to avoid/ Minimize to heal thyroid issues:

We’ve established that gluten causes inflammation that slow down thyroid function. It triggers auto immune response in the body that attacks the thyroid. Many clients who struggle a lot  have benefited with just excluding gluten from their meals. Wheat, barley, rye, and spelt have gluten. Make sure you avoid all the wheat products too, semolina, vermicelli, broken wheat, wheat pastas, breads, cakes of corse.

Next on the list is.. no surprise.. Sugar! Cause its what any inflammatory disease feeds on! The inflammation increases every time you have sugar which hinders healing of your thyroid.

Third on the list is Soy. It’s a big no because it’s a genetically modified food and also it has phytoestrogens which makes the hormonal imbalance worse. So keep off edamame, tofu, mock meats and use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce!

Here’s one more food you need to avoid SPECIALLY if your thyroid antibodies are high and your thyroid problem is auto-immune. Most of my clients resist this one, But only those who are able to actually stick to this long term, are able to reverse autoimmune Thyroid!!! LENTILS!! you need to avoid legumes and lentils. These have lectins that worsen the auto-immune response. Lectins block the thyroid hormone and you may end up with thyroid receptor problem, where the cells become resistant to the hormone. In this situation, the thyroid hormone pills will not help at all and your dosage will go on increasing and so will the weight!

Avoiding these foods will allow your thyroid to heal; it will make you feel much better and will resolve many of your symptoms too. This is the reason I put up the story about “only people who are really dedicated to the process can see progress when it is autoimmune” It’s hard, but at least there’s hope for a cure in food.


Nutrient deficiencies and thyroid

Whether you want to prevent or heal your thyroid, here are some basic nutrients that are directly linked to Thyroid when they are deficient.

Iodine (1mg), Omega 3 (2000mg), vitamin A (2tsp spirullina OR 1000 IU), vitamin D (1000 IU), selenium (200mcg) and zinc (50mg) are crucial for thyroid hormone production and activation. Iodine is naturally available in sea vegetables, fish. Salmon, herring, walnuts, flaxseeds, have omega 3. Green leafy vegetables, carrots, chicken liver can give you vitamin A. Brazil nuts, gray niger seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds contain good amount of selenium. Zinc is available in cashews, egg yolk, chicken, lamb.

You can include these foods in your daily diet but the amounts won’t be adequate to meet the requirements. It’s wise to get these nutrients through supplements to ensure you get enough of them to treat your thyroid.


To Be continued–Coming up–real life clients who successfully healed their thyroid through Rashi’s recommendations and meal plans!

To contact Rashi or follow her on Instagram and Facebook, see her information:


YouTube channel:



If you missed the previous posts from Rashi, please take a browse through her interviews on Reshie Rambles:



Creating my own diet charts

I have thought a lot in the last few weeks, and I feel like I have hit some sort of mental stagnation with my food. So, I messaged my ever so favorite dietician who I have been faithful to for years now, Rashi, and we came up with a mutual agreement of letting me handle my own diet charts (after all, I am an expert now!) for a certain time period. I also need to create a long term goal (i.e. want to get down to say 19% fat) and get as far as I can, then have her help me get to that extra last bit.

So, the first step to that is starting on a proper self created diet plan. Now, this is more fun than I thought. But, I am a person of structure, and I need a plan, so I have to create one on paper and stick to it. What is motivating me is that I now also have my own clients who I am helping through THEIR journey of eating well, getting more energy through a proper diet, and losing inches and weight. Now, if I am doing that for others, then why not myself!?

I thought about my schedule for the next one week, and realized being at home had its advantages..and so does being on the road. I always go back to Rujuta’s philosophy “Think global, eat local”. So I thought of the summer season, where I would be and what my surroundings will be. For example, at home, I should eat the fruits of the season, the veggies cooked Indian style that I had growing up, the breakfasts I was used to growing up, etc.
While I am in NYC, I can skip the traditional NY style pizzas and go with the fresh summer soups, summer salads, plain cold yoghurt, fresh peanuts on the street, and all kinds of organic foods without missing out on the NY experience.
When I am in Illinois, then I do the basics which the Midwest provides for vegetarians : Cheese sandwiches, bean and guacamole bowls, tofu stir fry,sushi etc.

So, I will be posting my own plans (these are specifically catered towards MY body type, my metabolism and my schedule and goals) that I have created on a weekly basis.

My plan this week will be:

(within 10 mins of rising)9:00 am Handful peanuts and B complex and B6

10:30 am
Baked beans and slice of bread

Hummus + veggies or daal and veggies Flaxseed

2:30pm Bowl of fruit mixed with yogurt

430pm Slice of cheese

630pm 1 banana and soy milk (post workout)
Evening primrose oil

830 pm Grilled paneer and daal
Paneer chaat salad

I can basically make this plan work wherever I am. and I know I can stick to it. I don’t plan to go nuts working out this week much because I have a very hectic week coming up. The workouts will be sporadic (not non existent) and will start consistently next Monday (Aug 12).

Protected: Workouts for Weeks 1+2

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Protected: Non Veg meal plans for challenge

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Protected: Veg Meal Plans for Challenge

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On the way back….surviving the time zones

On my trip in Bangkok, I spent half my time battling jet lag and therefore able to workout in the mornings and the other half relaxing and not caring about working out and even slipping up a bit on my meal plan 😉 let’s not mention the drinks just yet! (more about this later).

So here I am on my way back I’ve pretty much stayed up all night in order to catch my first flight. I needed to leave the hotel at 245 am to get to my flight. So after some phone tag, rashi and I talked and we planned out my plan for the next 2 days along with my 15 day plan starting Monday when I arrive in new York.

Because of the long distance, my flights and layovers were a bit crazy. For example, every time I landed it was Sunday afternoon then Sunday morning again!!! How do u figure out breakfast, lunch dinner? So this is what rashi did. She started the travel plan right after dinner Saturday night. Since I was not going to sleep, my body still needed the energy until I did sleep or my metabolism would crash which we don’t want! So after dinner, she had me do this:

Post dinner (1130 pm) :A glass of milk

On the way to Airport (3am): 8 almonds

Sleep in flight

On rising fruit and b complex

On landing: orange juice and cheese sandwich or mashed potato and egg whites

This brings me through flight 1 and the layover in Tokyo. Then comes the 9.5 hour flight to San Francisco. She basically said to eat well but eat every 3 hours. So this consisted of:

Meal 1: soy milk( I couldn’t find this in Tokyo airport but found a soy fruit bar so I am going to do that)

Meal 2: in flight meal and omega 3

Meal 3: protein bar (which I carried with me)

That should take me 9 hours or more into the flight. When I land in San Fran, it wil, be morning so at this point I more or less start my 15 day plan that was charted out for me for the next 15 days. Due to availability of foods in the airport, she gave me some substitutions for Sunday from San Francisco to new York. Also, rashi told me in terms of working out, don’t do full blown workouts this week due to the jet lag and long hours of travel. But she asked me to do at least 40 min of cardio 4 days this week, which was fair. Also, since I will be home after so long this weekend, she gave me home cooked meal options for the weekends too. So the 9/11/2011 meal plan for 15 days looks like this:

Meal 1 (on rising)(745am) : any fruit
Meal 2 ( 9am): 2 egg whites and whole wheat toast (or paneer tofu or baked beans) or dalia with veggies on weekends
Meal 3 (11 am) 8 macadamia nuts
Meal 4 (1 or 130) 1 roti and paneer or daal and a small salad
Meal 5(330) soy milk
Meal 6(530/6): slice of cheese (this week or non workout days) or next week when I resume regular workouts pre workout fruit and post workout protein shake

Meal 7( dinner)(830): moong sprouts salad or at home daal and vegetable sabzi

In San Francisco, if I can’t find the moong sprouts option (pretty good chance I wont) I will be looking for a cheese salad with a slice of bread for dinner ( pretty easy!)

I mentioned earlier in the post about my fun happy hour escapades the last 10 days…. Since i have been indulging, rashi wanted go keep the meal plan for the next 2 weeks a bit light to make up for the last few weeks. I was okay with that…….the biggest challenge will not be what I eat but my sleep patterns the next week or so!!! I can already see myself up and wide eyed at 3 am due to the 11 hour time difference! if I am…I will be writing!

Menus and Choices

So, I did a few days on the diet chart posted last week. Now that I am bumping up my workouts (and its a Monday tomorrow), I have the next 15 days charted out on a diet that is for a strenous on the road schedule.  And will post some sample ones over the fews days. The best way to go is to choose one that is best for your needs and easy and just go with that for 15 days. Then after 15 days, start a new one.

Here are a few I like and I didn’t really follow at the time I had gotten them because a) I was sick probably b) I just didn’t! (sorry Rashi!). Becasue I did not follow them, my body didn’t realll know them which I can use them. Remember, change the meals starting with the first one at 10 min of rising, breakfats within one hour of rising and then every 2 hours.

Option 1:

Meal 1: any one fruit (within 10 min of rising)

2: Cereal with milk or jacket potato with cheese (B complex and multi vit)

3: Peanuts

4. 1 chapati+subzi+dal or cheese +vegetable sw

5: Fruit yoghurt (flax seed)

6 (pre workout): Banana

7 (post workout): Soy Milk

8 (Dinner): Soup+ 2-3 egg whites (or can sub tofu or paneer if don’t eat eggs) (Vit C and Vit E)

Option #2:

Meal 1: Any Fruit

Meal 2: 3 egg whites (boiled or omlette) OR Thick Fruit Smoothie (be careful on this, try the ones with higher protein and natural fruit or yogurt and fruit or soy milk and fruit)

Meal 3: 200 ml flavoured soy milk

Meal 4: Grilled veges / soup +salAd with light

Meal 5: Slice of bread  with cheese

Meal 6: 1 scoop protein shake (or soy milk)

Meal 7: Grilled paneer +dal /soup +veg stirfry/
1 bowl of rice +thai curry/dal (3/wk)

Option #3:(good for morning workout days or long days )

Meal 1: Any fruit

Post workout: Protein Shake and one banana

Meal 3:(breakfast so by 8-9am) 2 egg whites (or baked beans or paneer) with 1-2 slices bread

Meal 4: Salad with vinegar or yogurt dressing

meal 5: Cheese cube

meal 6: Veggie sandwich (lunch)

Meal 7: Fruit Yogurt

meal 8: Mixed Nuts

Meal 9: Tofu  or paneer stirfry or edemame +avocado sushi

Option 4:

meal 1: Any fruit

Meal 2: Oatmeal w/Milk

Meal 3: Mixed Nuts

Meal 4: Cheese sandwich with veggies

Meal 5: 2-3 pieces of dark choc (at least 70% coco)

Meal 6: Plain Yogurt

meal 7: Egg whites+ any veg soup

(courtsey Rashi Chowdhary for Reshma Radia)

From now to Monday–whats the plan?

So I started  the food plan from the previous post yesterday:

I didn’t starve at any point! But I did have a couple of slip ups. My mom knows best that I SUCK at taking Vitamins! So, of course I completely forgot all the supplements. To fix this issue, I created reminders daily for every supplement I need to take in my calendar. Even if I eat lunch,the thought NEVER crosses my mind that I need to take vitamins with it! So, just like a kid, I need to be coaxed to take my supplements; and instead of by Mom like when I was a kid, my grown up version is my blackberry.

The second slip up, if I want to call it that, is that I had promised to go out with a friend last night. Well, should I have avoided this? Probably. But the damage was done and it was premeditated. So I did some damage control before I even went out.

1. I went to Bikram Yoga for a 90 min session that almost felt suicidal yesterday (more on this topic in an upcoming post)

2. I ate dinner BEFORE i went out. This way, I made sure I did not binge on junk food after wards like me and many people who drink tend to do. I had my dinner meal (I chose the wheat pasta with Veggies) right after yoga around 8.

3. I realized I could take an extra 15 min and walk to meet my friend from my hotel. So, even in the humid heat, with an already draining Bikram Yoga class under my belt, I walked 13 blocks. Every little bit counts.

After I got back home, I made sure I drank enough water, didn’t even think of eating anything and went to bed. So, whilst I did some damage, I didn’t completely damage my entire day.  This morning, I had no feelings of remorse!

My third slip up was my diet log looked like this yesterday (compare it to the plan in the last post)

Meal 1: Soy milk (yay, good)

Meal 2: Museli (what are we missing? Milk!), Coffee

Meal 3(lunch time): Packaged 3 Bean Salad (good)

Meal 4: Blueberry Yogurt (YUM)

Meal 5: Kraft Singles Cheddar Cheese

Meal 6: Whole Wheat Pasta+ veggies

Well, i missed a meal due to my timings as you can see. And I should have added in Milk with my museli. Missing the meal was due to me waking up a bit later than usual yesterday and I decided not to do the peanuts 15 min before lunch and just had lunch right away. Well, lesson learned! This is why logging is good. You can learn what you need to work on!

So, we don’t have an exercise plan to start until Monday. That doesn’t mean I won’t exercise. It just means I don’t have anything regimented until Monday. For me, because my schedule, I like to take my travel days off, if I can. So today is a travel day, I gave my self a rest. yesterday, i did my 90 min. class.  Tomorrow, I am sure my mom will drag me to the gym and I will do some cardio…or take a walk in my neighborhood for an hour. Simple things. So get out (or if you are in the “Heat Dome” area, get inside) and do something fun! Go for a walk, do a fitness video, dance around the house, do something to get yourself warmed up. Look at it like this–doing 15-20 min is better than nothing. So, just get yourself in the habit until Monday, take Sunday off and let’s start some butt kicking workouts next week!

Today is a travel day for me and so I just had lunch…an interesting bean salad option for those of you who like Mexican. I went to Chipotle and got a veggie burrito bol with: Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Hot Salsa, Corn, lettuce and tomatoes. Boy was it YUM and worth it. And guilt free! Since my flight is around dinner time, I am doing Veggies+slice of bread option. Whats the best veggies to eat in the boiling summer heat? You got it! Salad! So I will pack a veggie filled salad and a slice of bread for the flight and crunch and munch at 35,000 feet:)

Guys, one more tip–if you are going for salads, cut back on the dressings. I know no dressing salad is boring, so use something like a teaspoon or tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  I also like using hot sauce, but I am a freak when it comes to hot sauce. I should carry it in my purse as I put it on EVERYTHING.

If you find you are having a late night and are hungry after dinner (this may be my case today as it will be after midnight when i get home), have a glass of milk to curb the hunger.

Stay cool and drinks lots of water before you get thirsty! If you wait until you are thirsty, its too late, you body is already dehydrated. Ooops–time for my blueberry yogurt!