To Paleo or Not to Paleo

This post received some minor updates on Oct. 22, 2014 and Nov. 14, 2017. It addresses the Paleo diet specifically, not AIP (autoimmune protocol). To learn more about my stance about both the Paleo and AIP diets, read the chapter, “Why This is Not Another Paleo or AIP Cookbook” in my #1 best selling Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.

As popularity in the Paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet has grown, so have questions from my clients about its merits. Many of my clients are nutritionally savvy – they’ve done a lot of their own research on hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, and adrenal dysfunction, and come to me to help them sort out the contradictions and confusion and give them a supportive program with which they can start putting one foot in front of the other. And there’s a lot of confusion about the benefits of going Paleo.

I’m not saying I have all the answers (who does?), and I’m not an expert on the pros and cons of the Paleo diet, but doing this work for a few years and seeing impressive results, not just for my clients, but also for myself, gives me a good sense of what’s hype and what’s real and effective and what can help people move the meter on their thyroid- and adrenal-related fatigue, brain fog, sleep issues, weight issues, hair loss, and moodiness. And other symptoms. And to put a damper on the autoimmunity that’s causing these symptoms in the first place.

When it comes to nutrition for low thyroid function, especially Hashimoto’s, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a blog or website about the importance of implementing a Paleo diet. It’s a craze, if you ask me, and I’m kind of tired of hearing about it.

As Sean Croxton said, “Let’s face it, going 100% Paleo isn’t for everyone. Even me. To the average person, despite its benefits, Paleo can seem intimidating, restrictive, and at times kinda annoying, to be honest.”

Prior to my “Paleo fatigue,” I watched with distance interest as the craze took hold. I’ll admit, that there was a part of me that felt like I should go Paleo. And I felt that perhaps I was doing my clients a disservice by not promoting it and educating them about it. I considered it, even though my horse sense was telling me there is nothing wrong with eating whole grains (gluten-free, of course).

Much to my delight, in May of this year, Experience Life magazine published a moderated debate of sorts – Paleo vs. Vegan. As of a few weeks ago, this piece was the most-read article on their site. (Interestingly, I found out last week that my recent Repair Your Thyroid article is currently the most-read. I’m so tickled.)

(If you don’t want to read this whole post, scroll down for my numbered list of reasons why I feel that the Paleo diet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially for people with Hashimoto’s.)

I felt that this article kind of let me off the hook. Even some of my favorite health and wellness experts aren’t convinced that going Paleo is the end all be all, and although I’ll never go there, there is a lot of merit to veganism as well. It depends on who you ask, what you believe, and how you FEEL when you’re experimenting with different ways of eating.

So who’s right? No one. Because we’re all individuals. And as I learned in school, nutrition is the only science where opposing theories can be proven right.

With a Paleo diet, you’re only eating what’s believed to be the foods that our ancient ancestors ate, mostly foods you can forage for: meat (grass-based/pastured only), fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, eggs, unrefined coconut and olive oil, and animal fats like ghee (butter oil), lard, and tallow. Some followers say eat minimal fruits and some only support eating berries.

I’m all for all of these foods. There isn’t a darned thing here that I don’t eat regularly, with the exception of lard and tallow, even though I think they’re fine to consume.

Where I start to glaze over is when Paleo enthusiasts proselytize about the dangers of grains and legumes.

Update: Here are two posts written after this post was published: In Defense of Grains and In Defense of Legumes. You can find even more information on the benefits of grains and legumes in my Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

They consider the lectins in grains and legumes “poison” and to cause leaky gut and an immune response. Phytic acid, also found in grains and legumes, is said to bind to zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium, causing us to be deficient in these nutrients.

Most Paleo eaters agree that seeds and nuts are fine, but there is evidence pointing to the fact that seeds and nuts actually contain more phytates. (Granted, many Paleo followers are soaking, fermenting, and sprouting their seeds and nuts, which removes most of the phytic acid.)

There are so many people who’ve eaten grains and legumes all their lives and thrived. And not all grain- and legume-eaters are deficient in zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium. (It’s good to check your levels.)

The Paleo crowd also eschews soy (a legume that I’m not a fan of myself), dairy, sugar, caffeine, and oils derived from seeds and grains, which can be high in inflammation-promoting Omega 6 fatty acids. Some say no eggs. And no starchy vegetables because they can’t be eaten raw.

Sugar and sweeteners? Sure, we can live without them. Dairy? Sure, it’s yummy (can anyone say HARD CHEESE?), but many people are dairy-intolerant (including many with Hashimoto’s) and do well to eliminate it.

If you ask me, Paleo folks are really making best guesses here, as there’s a fair bit of controversy about what our ancestors did, in fact, eat. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “…it is unlikely that we would find many of the actual foods they ate appealing.”

With the exception of starchy vegetables, which some Paleo followers accept, the Paleo diet smacks of the Atkins diet all over again. And we all know what happened with the Atkins diet – it came in like a lion and out like a lamb. For good reason, I feel.

I wholeheartedly agree that the Paleo diet has its strong points and I adhere to what I would consider to be a Paleo template. But not because I’m jumping on a bandwagon – I was eating this way before Paleo became the diet du jour. And it’s generally how I encourage my clients to eat.

I believe that clean protein and vegetables (starches included!) are what our diets should primarily consist of, with some true whole grains (not flour-based products) and legumes. And minimal fruits. And dairy, if you can tolerate it.

Below are my beefs with Paleo. Let’s start with the fact that Paleo is low-carb. Many Paleo folks will pound on their chests declaring that it’s not, but if you eschew grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, you’re eating a low-carb diet. I know they generally don’t like the comparison to the Atkins diet, but there’s little distinction.

Below are my Paleo “issues.” Again, you can find even more information in my Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

  1. Our bodies do not like carb restriction. The body views caloric restriction as a stressful response and it gets doubly concerned when carb intake drops. (Important: since the original writing of this post in 2012, many anti-carb promoters have gone “moderate carb” or even completely backpedaled on their anti-carb stance. Why? Read on…)
  2. If you want to maintain optimal thyroid function, low-carb diets are not a wise idea. Low carb diets can lower T3, your active thyroid hormone, and increase Reverse T3, which acts against thyroid hormone production and is often associated with adrenal dysfunction.
  3. Eating legumes is largely how vegetarians and vegans get their protein. Limited protein in the diet = limited T4/T3 conversion for those with hypothyroidism. (And what about vegetarians and vegans who believe in the benefits of being legume- and grain-free? What are they supposed to eat? Just vegetables? That’s not healthy or filling.)
  4. Give your thyroid some love in the form of carbs, and it will return the favor in the form of improved cold tolerance and better overall body temperature regulation – which many people with low thyroid function struggle with. More stable body temperature = improved thyroid function and more stable adrenals.
  5. Excess protein in the diet can cause brain fog and can leech calcium from the bones. One popular Paleo proponent writes, “And the fact that phytates are chelating calcium out of our bodies means that we have less access to that bone-building and nerve-transmitting mineral we’re all so fond of.” Um, excess protein leeches calcium too.
  6. I realize that magnesium is derived from all kinds of foods, including nuts and seeds and most vegetables, but legumes and grains are also a fantastic source of this important mineral. Magnesium has been nicknamed “the miracle mineral” because of its incredible benefits. 
  7. Again, Paleo proponents hate the Atkins comparison, but what made Atkins successful for weight loss is that it puts people in a state of ketosis. Sure, you’ll probably drop weight quick-like on the Paleo diet – because you’re eating a ketogenic diet, or close thereto. Ketosis occurs when metabolism shifts towards obtaining energy from fat stores vs. food. Ketones (waste products) make insulin levels fall so low that the muscles and tissues of the body burn body fat for energy, as during starvation. This is hard on the heart and kidneys – it can cause kidney stones – and ketones makes the blood acidic. And it can give you keto breath. Not sexy.
  8. Carbs, and more specifically, the glucose in carbs (a form of sugar), are the primary fuel source for many of the body’s vital organs, including the brain. The brain is a glucose hog, and this is why many Atkins dieters complained of feeling tired, angry, depressed, spaced out, and tense. And it’s probably why some Paleo dieters don’t stick to the diet long. Research has shown that carb-restrictive dieters tend to become depressed about two weeks into their diet, about the time their serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter and feel-good brain chemical that elevates mood, suppresses appetite, and has a calming effect) have dropped due to decreased carb intake. Carbs trigger a release of insulin into the blood stream. Insulin goes about clearing all the amino acids out of the blood, with the exception of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that normally gets crowded out by other amino acids in its attempt to cross the blood-brain barrier. Yet when its competitors are out of the way, it enters the brain and is converted to serotonin. More serotonin = a sense of happiness and wellbeing.
  9. A low-carb diet can cause hair loss. Not great for people already losing hair due to low thyroid function.
  10. A low-carb diet is not a good idea for someone seeking pregnancy. Granted, clean, quality fats and proteins are super important for fertility, but eating these macronutrients with little to no carb balancing can thwart your ability to become pregnant.

* * *
Okay, back to the autoimmune thing. Some Paleo experts feel that eating a Paleo diet is important if you have autoimmunity (in the form of Hashimoto’s for the hypothyroid community). It’s not. And I’m living proof. And so are many of my clients.

Update: Since this post was written, the AIP diet has become popular for those with autoimmunity.

When I embarked on my drug-free autoimmune/Hashimoto’s-slaying journey in 2008, Paleo wasn’t a big deal yet. Yes, being 100% gluten free is non-negotiable if you have Hashimoto’s (or any autoimmunity), but non-gluten grains like amaranth, buckwheat, corn, and rice were a regular part of my diet as my thyroid antibodies plummeted and as I started to get relief from my hypothyroid symptoms and feel better.

One popular thyroid/Hashimoto’s doctor said, “People with autoimmunity can’t handle grains.” Really? How can you make this blanket statement? How can this be applicable for every.single.person with Hashimoto’s?

NOW…I will say that for people who have significant gut dysbiosis or leaky gut or SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or any kind of intestinal imbalance, which is common for those with autoimmunity, it MAY be beneficial to remove grains and legumes from the diet for a period of time. A Paleo-ish diet can be a therapy for healing these imbalances and bringing integrity back to the intestinal lining and to the digestive system.

When it comes to healing the thyroid and taming autoimmunity, you always have to address gut function. But are grains and legumes always the culprit? And is eliminating grains and legumes the silver bullet for healing? I don’t think so. Staying on this diet forever? I don’t believe it’s necessary. Or sustainable.

According to Dr. Weil, “There’s no harm, and some potential benefit, in trying the Paleo diet, but I believe the diet is too restrictive for most people to stick with long term. I think success is more likely for the majority if they regard it as healthy direction, rather than as a strict set of guidelines from which one can never deviate.”

Here’s when I recommend eliminating grains and legumes: when a diet that helps determine foods sensitivities that in turn antagonizes the immune system (an Elimination/Provocation diet), along with gut-healing supplementation, has proven unsuccessful in healing the gut and taming autoimmunity. Most of us have a food sensitivity, and many have more than one. If you continue eating dairy on a grain-free diet (which I realize isn’t “Paleo”), you’ll still have problems.

Examples of how going Paleo without identifying food sensitivities won’t get you very far: Many people are sensitive to nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant), which aren’t often on lists of potential food offenders.

And of the three biggest offenders (wheat/gluten, dairy, and eggs), eggs are allowed by most Paleo folks. Simply put, eating foods you’re intolerant of is a huge impediment to healing and identifying these rascals is more important than going Paleo.

Identifying food sensitivities will go a long way in helping you heal and in getting a handle on autoimmunity. And for those who still struggling with gut issues, I recommend eliminating grains and legumes – as a therapeutic diet, not a lifelong commitment. Heal the gut, and many of the previous “irritants” can be eaten in moderation.

I’ve known a few Paleo adherents who did well on the diet for a while, only to hit a wall. Maybe they saw some of their autoimmunity flare up, or they didn’t feel as vibrant as they did the first year or so. And they scrambled for answers, only to eliminate even more foods from their diet (??), finding themselves emotionally miserable, confused, and not feeling any better.

The stress and distress of this type of situation only serves to cause more damage to the gut lining and to up the ante on autoimmunity.

I’ve also known people who’ve tried going Paleo and felt ill. A common response from the Paleo community is often, “You did it wrong.” And thus the proselytizing ensues. But I’m not a fan of the, “I’m going to make you wrong to prove me right” position. 

It bugs me to no end when diet becomes a religion. And when diet fanatics find out that you don’t pray at the Paleo or vegan or raw food altar, you’re seen as “wrong.” Nevermind that diet is an individual choice and that it’s really not anyone’s business how you or I eat.

I feel sorry for anyone who has excommunicated themselves from the church of Paleo. Paleo proponents can be pretty dogmatic, to say the least. Again, I eat a “Paleo template,” so I’m not saying that the principles of the diet are wholeheartedly faulty. I just don’t like the rigidity. 

And again, while I don’t have all the answers, I feel that some of you will be let off the hook – maybe that gremlin on your shoulder who’s been telling you you “should” go Paleo will be quieted. (Remember, don’t “should” on yourself.)

According to Ann Marie Michaels, author of the hilarious and engaging blog, Cheeseslave, “The Paleo diet is fundamentally flawed. It’s a diet based on misinformation about the past and the present. Paleo adherents believe that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is somehow superior to that of the sedentary agriculturalist. It is a romantic ideal based on fantasy, not reality. The reality is that living as a hunter-gatherer is not an easy life, and it was not a lifestyle people chose because they thought it was cool or better.”

It’s all about experimentation. It’s fine to explore different ways of eating. Try a Paleo diet, if you feel inclined. And if you FEEL great, fantastic. I’m all for that. But once you’ve moved through the therapeutic phase and things don’t seem to be working as well, don’t beat your head against a wall trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

As Dr. Frank Lipman says, “When it comes to crafting your own eating plan, listen to your body. I think we are all biochemically unique, and there is no one right diet that works well for everyone.”

Conclusion: I ba-leeeeeve (from-the-pulpit reference there) in many of the principles of the Paleo diet. I love the idea of a Paleo template. It’s how I eat. But given that we don’t really know what our ancestors ate, and that a restrictive diet isn’t sustainable long-term for most people – and can be stress-inducing – I’m not singing in the choir.


Unfortunately, all comments on this post written prior to Feb. 28, 2013 were inadvertently wiped out. Ouch.

This article was so helpful to me!  I have Hashimoto's and I'm Celiac as well.  I actually am trying to GAIN weight, not lose.  I also have IBS periodically.  I've been trying the Paleo diet but have to be very careful with vegetables.  Salads (lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, carrots) are usually fine (although I'm not eating tomatoes more recently simply to stay away from nightshades - they really don't seem to bother me), but most other vegetables like cooled broccoli, spinach, asparagus, for instance make me so sick!  I keep hearing that eggs are inflamatory but I was tested for eggs and dairy which came up negative.  I've chosen to eliminate dairy more recently, at least for a while to attempt to heal.  I have no problem with eggs and eat them frequently.  I really don't want to eliminate them because I dont have a problem with them and I need to be careful because I don't want to lose weight.  I just wanted to ask your opinion about the eggs. 

Another friend adviced me to go on a fruitarian diet which she swears by but all of my research leads me away from that.  Also, I am hypoglycemic so I have to be careful with sugar.   

I seem to do better when I eat more of a variety of natural, fresh foods but smaller portions and being careful with vegetables as the ones I mentioned.

Thanks!  Sandi

Hi Sandi, firstly, please don’t go on a fruitarian diet – for many reasons. :)

If you have IBS, that’s an issue. The gut needs true healing with any manifestation of autoimmunity. You’re having some sensitivities to vegetables because of the ongoing gut dysbiosis, not because those vegetables are necessarily “bad” for you. Also, if you were tested for eggs via a blood test like ALCAT, it’s possible that you got a false negative. Those types of tests are notorious for being incorrect. Many in the functional medicine community say that they’re not worth the time or money. You may not think that you have a sensitivity to eggs simply because you don’t get gas, bloating, heartburn, indigestion right away, but they could be contributing to your IBS. We see this a lot – and not just with eggs. I highly recommend a systematic Elimination/Provocation diet, which is considered “the gold standard” for identifying food sensitivities.

I will comment again. I’m sorry you lost your comments, there was a great string of responses here. This topic is an ongoing debate in my practice and with my patients and your post is by far one of the best I’ve seen. I’ve shared this with several people. I don’t know that anyone could argue with the points you raise. Nice job, thoughtful, well researched, well written.

Thanks, Mike. Yes, I'm really bummed that the comments were lost. I wish some of the people who emailed me directly about this post would post here! Nonetheless, I appreciate you taking the time to re-comment.

I for one am sick of hearing about Paleo this and Paleo that. I'm tired of hearing how bad grains and dairy are for me. I've been eating them all of my life and feel great and have always been height/weight proportionate. I think this diet is WAY overrated, but if it helps people start eating right, that's a good thing. When will people learn that portion control and NOT overeating is what works along with exercise?

I agree with you, Karen. I think the Paleo wave has crested, because even some in the hard core Paleo community have conceded that indeed, Paleo doesn't work for everyone and that you need to take an individualized approach -- if you approach it at all. And that carb restriction isn't all that healthy. I've been criticized by some in the holistic nutrition community for not adopting/promoting the Paleo diet with my clients who have Hashimoto's -- or any manifestation of autoimmunity -- because the thought is that it's the end all be all diet for those with autoimmune disease. The autoimmune protocol diet is even more restrictive than Paleo. Hello stress!

I do recommend the GAPS diet for those with more advanced autoimmunity and the gut dysfunction that often goes along with it. GAPS is similar to Paleo, but even Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, the creator of the GAPS diet, says that it's a therapeutic diet to heal the gut, not a "you have to be on this diet for the rest of your life" diet.

I began eating Paleo (including no added sugar) about 7 weeks ago. Since the. My hair has started falling out in clumps and my hair dresser said my hair is thinning. My doctor recently started me on iron due to low ferritin counts and I also began taking a B complex supplement. I've also been extremely tired, but I'm assuming that is due to the iron deficiency, I'm 31 years old and ism extremely active and am in good shape. Any ideas on what other supplements I should add to my regime? Thank you!

Hi thanks for the article, very interesting! I have multiple health issues all to do with my tummy, and last year I decided to give paleo a try, unfortunately one of my issues is I have gastroparesis which is nerve damage and paralysation to the gut and was not able to consume enough protien and fat to compensate for the restricted carbs. I went off it over Christmas cos I was too tired and it was causing more pain etc and feel I have never recovered, I have always been tiny but have been putting on unexplained weight, more tired then usual, and eating gluten free grajns again is causing pain now like it didnt before going off them completely and im definitely more emotional. I am going to get a thyroid check but do you think a couple of months on paleo could cause a thyroid imbalance? Or do you need to do it for way longer? I was also severely low on iodine which I am now taking. I just have too many other issues to worry about, don't want another one lol. Thanks

I feel so lost. I am currently doing the Whole 30 transformation. I have Thyroid issues, getting tested for Hashi's next week. I probably have it. I have been working out and been getting adrenal fatigue. The more I read the more I don't want to eat anything raw. I have removed so much from my diet and I still wonder which other group I should avoid being nightshade or goiter veggies. If I cook them both are they ok? I'm trying to find the food that will be the best for me. I don't need anything to slow down my metabolism any slower than it is already. One month I ate a lot of cooked nightshade and I lost weight. One month I ate cooked Broccoli and Cauliflower plus uncooked cabbage and I stayed the same not losing anything. One blog says give up almonds and cashews the other blog say you can eat them. If I add legumes and grains which ones are safe to eat? I'm finding that I'm not the only person that feels that way but there is no real answer. I enjoyed your article and I did learn a lot form it. I also learned that I need to do more research.

Hi Kellyann,

We generally take a very conservation approach to supplements, and prefer that our clients get their nutrients from whole food sources whenever and wherever possible. What's more, it's very difficult to say which supplements we'd recommend without knowing more about your diet and lifestyle. Without knowing how drastic of a dietary change you initiated by going strict Paleo, it's hard to say where there is now a deficiency (i.e., what's changed), but it's safe to say that your body is likely not currently getting everything it needs. Remember, a Paleo (or modified Paleo) is great for some bodies, but not necessarily for every body.


Hi Katie,

It's hard to say whether a strict paleo diet alone could cause thyroid problems. Certainly a period of intense stress could easily cause of period of subpar thyroid function, and for some people, nutritional deficiencies could cause biological stresses and ongoing feelings of deprivation or a challenging diet could cause psychological stress as well. Changing hormones also impact thyroid function.

What's more, good gut health is critical for good thyroid health, and clearly, you are struggling with some chronic gut dysbiosis. Healing or improving gut function is multi-factorial. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance.


Hi Sue,

We feel your pain. There is so much confusing and overwhelming information about what we should be eating, especially when we have hypothyroidism and/or autoimmune disease. But here's the thing -- there are very few "absolutes" that apply to everyone (even all of those people with Hashimoto's). If you have Hashi's, you need to be 100% gluten free as part of your immune modulation strategy. It's also a very good idea to determine conclusively (through a thorough elimination diet) if you are intolerant or sensitive to any particular foods. This goes to ensuring that your gut (which makes up 70% of your immune system) is as healthy as it can be. Other than that, it's up to you to be your own dietary detective -- through mindfulness, research, and experimentation, you need to uncover what foods fuel and nourish your body effectively, and which ones don't.

Best of luck, and let us know if we can be of any assistance.


I'm so glad someone points out that the Paleo gospel isn't the road to eternal happiness. The people who promote this diet are often quite adamant in their claims and the followers often forget that a lot of these people are actually trying to sell something (books, supplements, exotic products etc.). I'm of course not saying that everyone selling something is wrong (why not charge money for a really good product/advice?), but caution, fact-checking and logic are your best friends.

Having said that I still don't fully understand the connection between Hashimoto's and gluten and I hope you can enlighten me. :-) I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's app. two years ago because I have a rather small thyroid and antibodies in my blood. The rest of my lab results (THS, T3, T4) were totally normal and perfectly within range. My doctor first said that I'm in an "early stage" where my test results are still good, but as my results stayed their perfect same (only antibodies have risen) that I probably have a "dormant" kind of Hashimoto's and it could be that I never need medication.

BUT (and it's a big but) I still feel not exactly well. I'm quite often tired, cold, bloated and I lose my hair rapidly. I'm not saying it's the thyroid, there could be a myriad of reasons. My Vitamin D levels were incredibly low and my Selenium not out of the normal range, but nearly too low.

As I have often gut problems (bloating, gas, diarrhea) I looked into food allergies/intolerances, but there is nothing to be found. I have no food allergies, I can digest milk/lactose like a calf, I can digest fructose, I even had gastroscopy (+ biopsy) to see if my gut lining is damaged by gluten. It is not, everything is perfect. I have now nice rosy pictures of my duodenum. ;-) I still cut out gluten for a few months - no felt difference. In fact I think a slice of cheese bread is something I digest best.

Therefore my question: Do I still have to cut out gluten to control my strange Hashimoto's? Even though I definitely don't have Celiac disease or a damaged duodenum? I would of course swear off gluten if it would help my thyroid and I, too, read Datis Kharrazian's book, but other than him I haven't found good sources to support his claim that the molecule structure of gluten and the thyroid is too similar. Do you have any links/medical studies to support this? This would be great!

Thank you! :-)

Hi Isa, I don't know how I missed this comment. Sorry for the tardy reply.

As Dr. Kharrazian says, the molecular composition of thyroid tissue is almost identical to the molecular composition of gluten. If you have Hashi's and eat gluten, it ups the ante on your antibodies and thus turns up the heat on Hashi's. You can also look at the work of Chris Kresser.

I take "normal labs" very much with a grain of salt. It depends on 1. the labs run and 2. what reference ranges used. Many people with "normal labs" have raging hypothyroidism.

You also have to look at adrenal function when treating the thyroid -- many of the symptoms overlap.

You don't have to have a damaged gut to benefit from being gluten free. As many functional medicine doctors have said, you'll never go into remission from Hashi's eating gluten.

Obviously you've never heard of the Autoimmune Protocol which is Paleo-based but excludes nightshades, eggs, and a host of other inflammatory items. And Paleo is not necessarily low-carb. If you tolerate carbs well, you can and should eat starchy veggies that are packed with nutrients. Maybe do a little more research before you spill your gospel...

Wow you really are not so smart!!! Maybe you're lack of carbs got the best of you while writing your comment!!! Jill clearly mentions the AIP diet at the beginning of the article and how she's not against it and proceeds to give a link for an elimination diet further in the article. Secondly, Starchy veggies are not in the same category as carbs such as legumes and rice so technically paleo does eliminate carbs... I think the article is great bc there are many valid points that can be backed up with data!!! Have a great day!!

Yes, Healed Myself, of course we've heard of it. We know it well, in fact. AIP, while helpful for some, is STILL not a one-sized-fits-all cure-all-your-ills diet. Many have come to us having been on it and weren't any better for it.

And by the way, we can spill our gospel as we wish. This is our blog. Feel free to move along if what you see doesn't resonate with you. :)

Hi - At the beginning of this post, you mentioned that you planned to write a post on AIP and Hashimoto's. Did you do that? I searched the site and didn't see one. I'd be interested to know your (expanded) thoughts. (Obviously the ones immediately above are valid, too, but wondering if you had any more substantive thoughts on it.) I thought your comments in this post re: a low starch diet and thyroid functioning were very valuable when considering Hashimoto's and AIP. I also think it's interesting that many of the foods on the Elimination/Provocation diet are also on the restricted list for AIP. Thanks in advance!

Hi Rebecca, it hasn’t been written – yet. We have our hands full with lots of projects right now. Yes, the E/P diet and AIP diets are similar, but different. For example, grains and legumes are allowed on E/P. And with an E/P diet, it’s short-term, with a systematic reintroduction of the potential offenders. So there is a timeframe instead of a vague, “How long do I have to be on this diet?” mentality, which helps people do it with commitment and focus. Plus, if you’re doing the additional gut healing during the E/P diet, you get results quick-like and most people can return to eating foods that were once offenders. It’s not a forever, “I can never eat dairy again” kind of thing.

Hi there :) I love this article! I have Hashi's and just got diagnosed with GERD. Any suggestions? I know I can't handle tomatoes, garlic, peppers, salad dressings, pickles, and a few others. I feel like there is nothing I can eat at this point, having both issues. I know I tolerate eggs, red potatoes, most fruit, rice, green beans, cukes, spinach, some meats. I'm just feeling stressed about this entire situation. Any ideas or suggestions?? Are chickpeas bad for Hashi's folks? Thanks a bunch! And thanks for being SO OPEN MINDED! I have read artical after article and I'm over it ;) I saw you comment at the bottom on one and here I am :)

Hi Sasha! We’re so glad you’re finding the material on our site helpful! Without knowing you personally, it’s difficult to give specific suggestions. For instance, some people with Hashi’s do fine with chickpeas, others don’t. For that matter, some people WITHOUT Hashi’s can digest chickpeas just fine, while others struggle. Every person is unique. But I have a hunch that you might find our blog post about stomach acid helpful given your recent diagnosis of GERD. It’s called Let’s Take an Acid Trip Together. Good luck!

Hello, and thank you for this blog! I was diagnosed with Hashi's about 1.5 yrs ago and have been doing Paleo (although I have occasional rice and sheep/ goat cheese...and wine nightly, yes I'm being honest here!). Overall I feel much better, the only issue I am still dealing with is rapid pulse/heart rate. I have had my heart checked (when I went into menopause 8 yrs ago) and it was fine. My integrative Dr. has recommended I do a cleanse, which I hope to do this month. My question is if you have found that rapid heart rate is always related to a food intolerances? I have done a Cyrex Lab test which did not show anything. I appreciate anything you know or could share about this topic!


Hi Sherri, rapid pulse can be related to food sensitivities, but it can also be related to adrenal dysfunction and also environmental allergies. Interestingly, food sensitivites can up the ante on environmenal allergies. I’m not a fan of blood testing for food sensitivities – it’s very possible that you got a false negative. These types of tests are notorious for being misleading, leaving people with a false sense of security. Many doctors in the functional medicine community say that they’re not worth the time or money. The “gold standard” is a full Elimination/Provocation diet.

Thanks so much for the speedy reply Jill, you definitely opened up some new possibilities, as well as confirmed some of what my Dr has been diagnosing and trying to treat...I guess it's time to do the FULL E/P diet! One other thing, not sure if this could have anything to do with the environmenal piece and not sure if you're a fan of hair analysis, but I came up off the charts with uranium. We do have a ton of ledge in our soil and we have granite countertops, just wonder if that could play into the whole rapid pulse.

Absolutely! Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) is common for those with metal toxicity. 

REALLY? My Dr has never mentioned this and in the printout that came with my lab results they didn't either, yikes that could explain a lot! So how do I address that - move?

I just read you article and find I agree also with not doing Paleo Diet.  I have always been slim and this past 8 years I have steadly gaining and gaining weight.  Went to my Prim Dr and they said Hypo Thyroid--ok no big deal take this Synthyroid and you will be fine.  3 years later still gaining and gaining till now Im 50lbs over weight even though I run Half/Full marathons.  I finally went to an Endo who said I have Hashimotos.  She said still take Synthyroid and you will be fine and cut back on calories.  "Cut back on calories? I barely eat sweets or tons of bread like I use to and I havent lost a pound!"  So started reading all the info on this for diets Paleo, AIP, Low Carb etc.  It is sooo confusing.  Im desperate-- I wont to run more and not hurt my feet or knees with this extra weight that I cant get it off.  Vitamins  are hard for me figure out.  All the information says this and that and it is all confusing.  I wish I can find a Doctor that treats ME and my symtons not just the Thyroid numbers.  I will look into the GAPS and I have started Weight Lifting and Yoga  to see if I can get any better.

Hi Bonnie, yes, it can be super confusing. That’s why we recommend personalized coaching for people in these situations – to figure out what works for YOU, as what works for someone else may not work for each person. The coaching doesn’t have to necessarily be with us – there are others out there who do good work with their clients. And I do recommend a relationship with a functional medicine doctor, not someone who’s going to tell you to restrict your caloric intake. (Sigh. This is such a disservice to people.) Go here to find someone new:

Oh my God! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm a mom to two teens with Hashimoto's. My son was diagnosed first and we went on the AIP. It helped tremendously to get his symptoms in check but he never went in full remission. The AIP is tough for anyone to go on much less teenagers but we did it for a long time. We try to eat as clean as possible and always gluten free. I have always been skeptical about any diet that completely eliminates entire food groups (grains in the case of Paleo) but never knew what else to do for my kids' Hashimoto's disease? Today, I just told my kids I thought we needed to go back on the AIP again to try to get them into full remission and you should have seen their faces. They looked like they had just lost their best friends. I had been thinking exactly the same thing that you wrote about and that my daughter's GI doc told us, that if we can elminate the foods that she's intolerant to, we can heal her gut. The hard part is figuring out what exactly she is intolerant to (besides gluten). I'm going to read your blog more about elimination diets and see if we can figure out my kids' food intolerances in a more reasonable way and they will be happy if I tell them they don't have to live a life free from gluten free brown rice pasta!


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