10 Harmful Foods Hashimoto's Patients Should Avoid Like the Plague

10 Foods Hashimoto’s Patients Should Avoid Like the Plague

Yes, you can Improve Hashimoto's Through Diet

One of the best things, and worst things, about Hashimoto's, is that your diet has a powerful impact on how you are feeling

But, as you will find, this is a double-edged sword. 

Good in the sense that you HAVE control over how you are feeling (to some degree) but bad in the sense that you are accountable for everything that you put into your mouth!

Want an extra donut today? Better watch out because that gluten may flare up your immune system

Want a quick breakfast by eating a bowl of cereal? Better be careful because dairy can exacerbate Hashimoto's symptoms. 

Trying to eat healthily by consuming raw vegetables? Too many may actually be harmful to your thyroid gland

These are just a FEW of the issues that you can run into when trying to navigate the field of diet and your thyroid. 

But don't let this get you down:

Today we are going to demystify the link between your diet and how it impacts Hashimoto's AND your immune system. 

You will learn:

  • A list of foods you should absolutely avoid if you have Hashimoto's
  • How these food groups wreak havoc on your thyroid gland and your immunes system
  • How to know if you need to avoid these foods
  • And more...

Download my Free Resources:

Foods to Avoid if you have Thyroid Problems: 

I've found that these 10 foods cause the most problems for thyroid patients. Learn which foods you should absolutely be avoiding if you have thyroid disease of any type. 

The Complete List of Thyroid Lab Tests:

This list includes optimal ranges, normal ranges, and the complete list of tests you need to diagnose thyroid hypothyroidism correctly!

Download more free resources on this page

My Top 10 list of Food Groups that Hashimoto's Patients Should Avoid

#1. Gluten. 

If you've had Hashimoto's for any length of time then you probably already know that you should avoid gluten. 

I am not going to harp on this topic for too long because this should really be something that you know already. 

Gluten plays a major role in damaging the gut lining which can trigger inflammation, gut damage, and even trigger autoimmune disease by itself. 

I've had the ability to treat many patients with Hashimoto's over the years and it always surprises me when they say that they are not avoiding gluten or that they tried it and it didn't work. 

But when I press further, I find that they only gave giving up gluten a half-hearted attempt for a few weeks but never succeeded in removing it from their diet 100%. 

If you fall into this category then you need to re-think your strategy! 

Going gluten free only works if you are 100% successful at removing it and if you keep it out of your diet for at LEAST 1 month (preferably two or three). 

If you have given up gluten for a grand total of three months then you can say that you gave it a fair shot. 

If you haven't, then you need to go back and do it in this way. 

Once you re-introduce gluten you can then determine how your body is feeling and if you are feeling worse (or better which does happen sometimes). 

#2. Iodized Salt. 

Next on the list is iodized salt!

But I don't want you to confuse iodized salt with iodine because they are NOT the same thing. 

Iodized salt is simply salt which has been fortified with iodine (iodine has been added to it). 

As a patient with Hashimoto's, you've probably been told that iodine is dangerous so it makes perfect sense while you would want to avoid iodized salt. 

But if you are thinking this then you are wrong. 

Iodine is NOT harmful to patients with Hashimoto's, though it does have the potential to cause issues (1) if it is used incorrectly. 

The reason I recommend avoiding iodized salt is because consuming iodine in this way may actually be harmful to patients with Hashimoto's. 

But it's not harmful BECAUSE of the iodine, it's harmful because consuming it in this way means that you are taking a dose of iodine without additional protective nutrients such as selenium. 

Consuming iodine, without selenium, may actually trigger inflammation and damage to your thyroid gland. 

For this reason, I always recommend that iodine be taken either with selenium or after you've supplemented with selenium so you know that your body has enough selenium in storage. 

But let me be clear:

Iodine is NOT dangerous to Hashimoto's patients and it's not something that you should avoid. 

In fact, avoiding iodine may actually be harmful and can cause more thyroid problems down the line. 

#3. Dairy products. 

Dairy is another no-brainer food group to avoid if you have Hashimoto's. 

Why?

Well, for starters, a huge percentage of people have problems digesting dairy and this number is as high as 70% of people when you look at studies (2). 

incidence of lactose intolerance

And when you dig deeper, you find that not only can people not digest dairy sugars, they also have problems with dairy proteins. 

Many patients with Hashimoto's often find that they are incredibly sensitive to the protein fragments found in dairy products. 

And these sensitivities can lead to inflammation and damage to the gut lining which can impair immune function and lead to more damage from your Hashimoto's. 

We even have evidence from medical studies to suggest that this is the case!

Studies have looked closely at Hashimoto's patients taking dairy and comparing these people to those who avoided it and they found that people with Hashimoto's who avoided dairy had BETTER thyroid lab tests (3) than those who didn't. 

As a Hashimoto's patient, you SHOULD avoid dairy as well as dairy based products such as whey protein. 

Instead of using whey protein, use a plant based protein powder such as pea protein which is easy to digest and more friendly on the stomach. 

#4. Soy. 

Any product that contains soy should also be avoided if you have Hashimoto's. 

This can be harder than you think because soy is often found in many foods and it's not always obvious that it's there. 

Why is soy a problem?

Soy products are highly processed (which is one major negative) and they can cause problems with your thyroid gland by acting as a goitrogen. 

Goitrogens are substances that block the uptake of iodine into your thyroid and this prevents your thyroid from working properly. 

As a patient with Hashimoto's who is ALREADY suffering from inflammation and damage to the thyroid gland, the last thing you want to do is make your thyroid gland have to work harder to produce what it needs. 

You might be able to get away by using organic non GMO soy products but I would be cautious of using soy in general as most patients with Hashimoto's do better without it. 

#5. Coffee. 

Don't shoot the messenger!

Coffee is something that you should NOT be consuming if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis or any sort of thyroid problem

People who drink coffee tend to be overly attached to it and I've seen them make all sorts of excuses as to why they NEED to have it on a daily basis. 

If you are making excuses for why you need to drink coffee then there's a good chance that you know you need to avoid using it but your desire for drinking it exceeds your knowledge that it's harmful to your body. 

supplements designed for hashimoto's

Coffee, and the caffeine found inside of it, have been shown to cause low free thyroid hormone levels (4), may put an increased drag on your adrenal function, may reduce the quality of your sleep, and may have addictive properties. 

Consume it at your own risk, but I can tell you from treating many patients with Hashimoto's and hearing their stories, that getting off of coffee can be a huge benefit to your thyroid and overall health. 

#6. Alcohol. 

You can and should think of alcohol as poison to your thyroid gland. 

Alcohol not only has the ability to poison or damage cells in your body, it has a direct negative effect on your pituitary gland and thyroid function. 

Consuming alcohol can also cause damage to your liver which reduces how well your liver functions. 

Why does that matter?

Because your liver is the site of conversion of thyroid hormones!

The more damage to your liver, the less active your thyroid hormone will be. 

My recommendation is to avoid alcohol 100% if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. 

Your thyroid will thank you as well as the rest of your body. 

#7. Processed Foods. 

Processed foods should pretty much be avoided whether you have Hashimoto's or not but they should DEFINITELY be avoided if you have Hashimoto's. 

What are processed foods? 

Processing is just a way to describe that the food you are about to eat has undergone some change or alteration prior to being sold (5). 

For instance, if you go to the produce section of your grocery store you will find food that is NOT processed. 

An apple, for instance, just needs to be picked from a tree before its sold. 

A processed food, on the other hand, goes through several steps before its sold which may include the addition of preservatives, the addition of flavor enhancements, the addition of salt, the addition of fat, and so on. 

The benefit of processing food is that it has a longer shelf life but the downside is that processed food causes DAMAGE and INFLAMMATION to your body!

You don't need to worry about processed foods as long as you are consuming a diet which is 100% whole food. 

But, in case, you weren't already doing this, consider this section a reminder that processed foods, while more convenient, will cause serious long-term damage to your health. 

#8. Processed Sugar

Most people will tell you that you need to avoid sugar 100% if you have Hashimoto's, especially if you are overweight. 

There actually isn't a lot of evidence to suggest that consuming sugar, healthy sugars anyway, is harmful directly to your thyroid gland. 

But there is some evidence to suggest that consuming too much sugar can cause inflammation and cause another harmful condition known as insulin resistance

But, this doesn't mean that you need to be fearful of sugar or avoid it like the plague. 

I am actually a big fan of using healthy carbohydrates in thyroid patients because I feel that many thyroid patients need more than they are getting. 

Having said that, there is a right way to use sugar and a wrong way. 

If you are going to use sugar you want to make sure you are getting it from NATURAL sources. 

This includes things like:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Agave syrup
  • And minor amounts of coconut sugar

These types of sugars can be used to satisfy a sweet tooth if used in moderation. 

Just like there are sugars that you can consume, there are also many sugars that you should avoid. 

And sugars you want to avoid are processed sugars which have been ADDED to foods which are already processed. 

Processed peanut butter with added sugar, would be an example of this but there are many others:

  • Processed ice cream with added sugar
  • Processed tomato sauce with added sugar
  • Processed cereal with added sugar
  • Processed "pre-made" dinners with added sugar and bad oils

I can't list them all but hopefully, you get the picture. 

Use MORE natural sources of sugar, in moderation, and zero processed and refined sugar. 

#9. Bad Oils and Fats

If there is one section that I want you to take extra seriously it's this section. 

Consuming bad oils, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons that the health of our nation has declined so rapidly over the last 20-30 years. 

These bad oils are heavily processed and, when consumed, can cause inflammation which has a long lasting effect in the body. 

These bad oils, because they are fats, can get incorporated into the cell membranes of the cells in your body. 

This incorporation weakens the integrity of the cells and leads to problems in cellular processing which results in things like long-lasting inflammation and hormone problems. 

Not only are these oils bad for your body, but they are also found EVERYWHERE. 

And, even if consumed accidentally, they can stick around for months and months inside of your body. 

If you have Hashimoto's then you will want to avoid THESE oils at all costs:

  • Soybean oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Wheat-germ oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Rice bran oil

Instead, use THESE oils!

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter from grass-fed cows

These oils are more expensive but will help your body eliminate the bad oils and improve the function of your cells. 

#10. Certain Vegetables (if eaten raw in LARGE quantities)

This is sort of a sneaky addition but it's worth spending a little bit of time on. 

Vegetables, in general, are AMAZING for your thyroid health and your overall health. 

They should NOT be avoided, even if you have Hashimoto's. 

But, I should take some time to mention that consuming excessive amounts of certain types of vegetables (such as broccoli) has the POTENTIAL to cause minor thyroid problems. 

This effect stems from the fact that broccoli and other vegetables in that family contain some goitrogens. 

The good news is that you can basically eliminate these goitrogens by properly preparing your food. 

Steaming your vegetables, instead of eating them raw, will eliminate this issue almost 100%. 

And, even if you don't steam your vegetables, eating raw veggies isn't a problem for most patients with Hashimoto's. 

I mostly wanted to include this section so that you DON'T avoid veggies because you heard they can be dangerous to your thyroid gland as this is not the full story. 

Final Thoughts 

While you can make a significant impact on the health of your thyroid gland by avoiding certain foods, you should be aware that just avoiding foods should not be the only therapy that you use. 

You should also be looking at therapies that include supplements designed to treat Hashimoto's, certain prescription medications such as LDN, the use of thyroid hormones (if necessary), and so on. 

Diet plays a major role in the development of Hashimoto's but you will also want to look at these other areas if you are interested in treating and MANAGING your condition. 

But now I want to hear from you:

Did any of the foods on this surprise you?

Are you already avoiding these food groups?

If not, are you planning on making any changes to your diet after reading this?

Do you also have any additional food groups to share which have caused problems for you personally?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

10 of the worst foods for hashimoto's - are you avoiding all 10?
Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders. He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances. You can read more about his own personal journey here.

73 thoughts on “10 Foods Hashimoto’s Patients Should Avoid Like the Plague”

    • HI Cheyanne –
      Unfortunately it is all dairy as the problem is casein, the dairy protein, not lactose. Casein is similar in molecular structure to our thyroid tissue and when we eat dairy, the presence of it activates the immune system against it and against our thyroid, resulting in more auto-immune damage to our thyroid.
      For more info see Dr. Kharrazian’s book, “Why do I still have thyroid symptoms?”

      Reply
    • Good information! Do you think a plant based diet is okay to follow? I have vitiligo & hoping this will stop the spreading.

      Reply
  1. I have the same questions regarding tea and cheese Does decaffeinated tea matter? No cheese, really?
    Regarding natural sugars, what about Erythritol or Stevai? As for my Hashimotos, I’ve found avoiding gluten and whey protein to be helpful – no bloating, gas and accompanying blah feeling. I tried strict keto (20g carbs/day) but my TSH & T3 dropped really low. I’m not sure if it was due to the carb restriction or calorie restriction (body goes into starvation mode which is similar to hypothyroidism). Since then, I’ve found a modified ‘keto’/lower carb works for me (40-50g carbs/day) – I don’t get into ketosis, but it actually avoids most of the foods Dr Child’s lists in his post.

    Reply
  2. I have eliminated gluten from my diet for the last two years. And have been vegan for about seven years. The shocker for me was the soy products. I like tofu and always buy organic tofu and tamari sauce. I don’t eat raw foods too often. Even cook my salads. Not a coffee drinker, it’s green tea for me. I will try and stop the soy for six months see if I feel better. Also notice rice makes me constipated if I have too much. Try and save my rice consumption for spring rolls. The oils were an eye opener also.

    Reply
  3. Dr Childs, can you please comment on Bulletproof Coffee by Dave Asprey. I believe he had thyroid issues before drinking it. I have been drinking this formulation for the past 6 weeks with no ill effects. Of course, test results may reflect otherwise. But generally, I do not have the issues I would normally with regular coffee such has anxiety and inflammation. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Eliminating BOTH coffee AND alcohol. Oye Vay. Please, provide alternative options as solutions other than just stop them all together. I appreciate your guidance on this.

    Reply
  5. I had 2/3 of my Thyroid removed when I was 9 because I have Hashimoto’s disease!! I now have a small speck of a Thyroid left!

    Reply
  6. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 10 and the longest I went without was 3 months. It’s more psychological than physical for me. It was how my family socialized. I’ve tried chickory-based coffee substitutes like Teecino that are pretty good. They help but for now, I’m allowing myself 1 cup of 1/2 caf in the morning.

    Reply
  7. Would love to hear a reply to the questions about coffee. Is decaffeinated ok to drink? and is drinking caffeinated teas a no-no as well?

    Reply
  8. Great info!!!! I just found your website today and saw several areas I would like to comment as well as ask questions. I’ve had hypo since 1996. First had graves and then Hashimoto disease. My TSH was 150 two weeks ago. Have been on Amour 120 for years. Looks like maybe some of these foods could have been what pushed my TSH to 150 but not sure. I am now taking 180 mg which may be a tad too strong because in the last 6 days I’m not sleeping more than a few hours at night. Can I cut the pill and take 135? Thank you for this wonderful site. Happy New Year everyone!

    Reply
  9. I seem to have cross over symptoms. Can not handle feeling cold all of the time, not able to lose weight. At times racing heart…. T4 so called normal range and TSH 0.02. Lots of hair lose. My doctor says my thyroid is under active. Has never mentioned Graves or Hashimoto disease so not sure if this info is for me or not? Please advise many thanks.

    Reply
  10. I eliminated gluten and dairy for one year and found that gluten was causing asthma and my seasonal allergies. I added dairy back and found no change other than my gut is visibly extended (inflamed) although I dont feel different. It probably is affecting my gut lining, but who knows. My other big one I need to avoid is canola oil. This is in everything (covering my almonds, tortilla chips…) and it was very hard to pinpoint on my own. Keeping a food journal was how I discovered it. Reading labels is a MUST. Canola makes me asthmatic. So do the chemical preservatives in sausages, bacon. Avoiding certain foods is key to feeling well for me.

    Reply
  11. Hi Dr Childs
    Thank You for this great information…. I’m looking into this now because I had an attack last night 3-4 hours after eating, (like 50 knives poking in my stomach, bloating bent over in pain). Friends brought over air fried chicken wings and steamed edamame beans to watch the game. the wings were heavily coated with spices and garlic from costco no idea what exactly they were cooked when arrived. I’ve been absolutely GF for over 10 years. many things you’ve listed here has reminded me how far I’ve drifted from an alkaline friendly diet… OK the Monster Java has to go… but please tell me about edamame (steamed whole soy beans with kosher salt) Thanks Denise

    Reply
    • Hi Kim,

      Some people can tolerate butter from grass-fed cows but not everyone. You’ll have to play around with it to see which group you fall into. It’s often best to eliminate dairy 100% for a period of time and then add it back in slowly starting with butter then cheese then liquid milk.

      Reply
  12. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 17 years ago. I was given levothyroxine and used it for 15 years until I found a Hormone doctor. After my visit with the hormone doctor, I was told that I have Hashimoto. Then prescribed Nature Thyroid. It seemed to work along with the other supplements that were prescribed. Last year Natur thyroid was recalled, I am back on levothyroxine. I feel awful. I am also experiencing muscle and joint aches in my knees, shoulders, backs, and feeling depressed. I am now looking to find another doctor …. one who is experienced in thyroid care. Your articles give me hope. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. I’m a little confused. You said no dairy product on #3, but then recommended butter from grass-fed cow on #9. Isn’t it still a dairy product?
    Also, I take gluten a casino pills on the occasion I decide to have something with that in it. Does this negate ill effects since I feel good, or is the damage still being done even if I can’t feel it?

    Reply
    • Hi Karinne,

      It is technically dairy but not in the same ballpark in terms of its effects on the body as other liquid forms of dairy. If you can’t tolerate the grass fed butter as a form of fat then you can use the other fats for cooking/baking 🙂

      Reply
      • I think I will try that, then! In regard to my other question…I take gluten a casien pill and digestive enzymes on the occasion I decide to have something with that in it. Does taking these pills negate side effects since I don’t hurt eating these foods on these pills, or is the damage still being done?

        Reply
      • I’m so excited you replied! 🙂 thank you! I’m a big fan and have been following you for years!! What are your thoughts on my other question about the gluten and casien pills?

        Reply
  14. Dr Westin – are “decaf” black teas ok? Or do I need to drink only plain herbal combos?
    What do think? I have Hashimotos. Thanks for your reply.

    Reply
  15. Not surprised by the food list. I’ve been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, and high estrogen, no testosterone. My functional med doctor prescribed the AIP diet, which I’ve done, but after 6-7 weeks, my blood tests revealed an increase in thyroid antibodies. How can you talk to your doctor to share concern that other treatment options might need to play a role in healing, while keeping lifestyle changes? I feel like each time I talk to my doctor, it’s rushed and she throws more supplement suggestions my way.

    Reply
  16. Dr. Childs,

    How do you feel about dairy in the context of non-Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? Obviously there can be many possible factors involved but do you have any general recommendations? I don’t have hashimoto’s but am pretty addicted to cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt. I also struggle with bulimia (15 years) and have not been able to recover despite trying everything under the sun.

    Thanks!

    Josh

    Reply
    • Hi Josh,

      My general recommendation in that setting would be to use dairy products if you can and if you’ve tested to make sure you can actually tolerate them. From my experience, most people can manage solid dairy products but don’t do well with liquid dairy products.

      Reply
  17. You are exactly right about this. In 2017, I eliminated gluten and in 2018 eliminated all the rest of the list. My autoantibodies decreased from over 600 down to the 200’s. I am in stage V Hashimoto’s, and I have also developed autoantibodies for RA in the past year; however, I have negligible inflammation and no joint pain. I decided to make one change this year, and that is to cook most of the vegetables I eat, instead of eating most of them raw in salads. Instead I make skillets with leafy greens in place of a salad. So far so good. My Fitbit tells me I am in excellent health for my age.

    Reply
  18. Hey Doc. Thank you for the info.

    I went to look up a list of goitrogens and found an infographic that said alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks are bad for Thyroid health.

    I do really enjoy some booze and wine (I’m working on it), I LOVE tea, and I have a fairly extensive seltzer habit.

    Am I SOL?? I did read what you wrote above about alcohol being poison. Are there any that are healthier? (I don’t have any truly mixed drinks, I get that alcohol and sugar, like a margarita, is killer.)

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  19. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and also Sjogren’s Syndrome, another autoimmune condition similar to Hashi, but Sjogren’s manifests as dry mouth, eyes and difficulties of the bodies ability to effectively distribute liquids/water throughout. Treatment for Sjogren’s is similar to Hashi, but with variations. I like your articles which have been helpful, but need a little more help. I know you specialize in Hashi, but can you suggest other sources for dealing with Sjoren’s as well? Thank you

    Reply
  20. Hi, I have had a thyroidectomy and have hashimotos. Are there any other foods that need to be avoided or can be taken off of the “no no” list?
    Also I have a fatty liver and the hospital consultant told me to have two cups of coffee a day as it would help my liver, but should I avoid this because of the hashimotos?

    Reply
  21. All great suggestions (for single people)! I bet they’d make anyone healthy. My family tries, but I got them all as a package. The little boy doesn’t eat much – good variety, but tiny quantities and is so, so thin. You can’t make a huge deal about food.

    Also, can you tell if you have an issue with dairy? It seems to make my body happy.

    Reply
  22. I enjoy your articles, thank you for all the hours spent to help those with issues! Could you please do an article for those who’ve had a Thyroidectomy. Mine was removed 2013 after struggling with an overactive thyroid, diagnosed 2002, couldn’t get it to go in remission.
    I feel like I don’t even know who I am, since these thyroid issues cause havoc on my life since before diagnosing it, I hoped it would be better after removing it, but when the count is perfect according to the dr, I feel terrible. What should I give up or (if anything like this article) what can I eat? As I find nothing on the web, all is either for hypo or hyper issues. Or should I be able to eat anything and it’s perhaps something unrelated? Many thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Karien,

      Of course! I have many articles directed at those without a thyroid, you can check through my blog archives to see them all 🙂

      In general, any information that I write directed at hypothyroid patients is relevant to you.

      Reply
  23. Dr. Westin,
    I have had hypothyroid since I was in my late 20’s I am know 65 years old. I have been on medicine and it has helped, however I was never told not to eat some foods that can effect the medication. Over the last year they had to increase the doses. Is hypothyroid different then hashimotos The last time I was at the Drs. she told me I have hashimotos and I always through is was just hypothyroid. Should I follow and avoid the 10 foods you listed./

    Reply
  24. Hi.
    You said “once you re-introduce gluten …” So we can actually re-introduce gluten after 3 months? Does that mean that we might get better and actually use it again with no problems? Does that mean our gut might improve, so we can use it again after some time? And why is there the possibility of getting worse even after we leave it for 3 months? Thanks.

    Reply
  25. Your videos have given me so much good information about what to avoid and what is good to eat. I have been on Levothyroxine for years and was just diagnosed with Hashimotos. It has been a scary development but changing my diet and doing research has helped me a lot. I just want to thank you for this info, there is hope! Can you be my doctor? LOL, it’s been a nightmare trying to get in with someone.

    Reply

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