The Coronavirus Survival Guide for Thyroid Patients
If you haven’t already, please read our complete primer on “What Thyroid Patients Need to Know About COVID-19”
This companion piece article features words of wisdom from members of our advisory board, spanning multiple disciplines and areas of expertise.
Mary Shomon: Prescription Tips and Doctor Visits
Don’t forget about your thyroid medication! Make sure you have enough medication to last at least a month or more in case you need to self-quarantine, or there are shortages of your medications. If you can’t get approved refills through your insurance, consider paying out of pocket for refills. You can go to a free service like SingleCare or GoodRx to find the best self-pay price for your medication in your area, or by mail order. You can also get extremely low self-pay prices on generic versions of all thyroid drugs from Honeybee Health. Find out about home delivery options from your local pharmacy, or mail order prescription options from your HMO or health insurance company.
It’s also a good idea to stock up on over-the-counter medicines you may need if you develop coronavirus symptoms. (Btw, stocking up does not mean hoarding!)
If you’re sick or have upcoming appointments, find out your telehealth options. Many doctors and HMOs are quickly ramping up their ability to provide consultations by telephone or video chat. Check with your healthcare provider about whether you should consider postponing any non-urgent hospital procedures, treatments, elective surgeries, or visits to a medical office. And in case you do get sick, have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for an extended period of time.
Adrienne Klein: COVID-19 Nutrition Tips
Nutrition is one component we DO have control over when it comes to arming ourselves against illness. Optimal nutrition supports the immune system, improves the body’s ability to fight off illness, and also improves the body’s ability to recover from an illness. During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the following nutrition tips can help those with compromised immune systems have a fighting chance:
Consume foods high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to prevent respiratory illnesses and can also be an effective treatment. Get your Vitamin C from whole foods, not juice. Juice has too much sugar to be an effective option, since sugar lowers the immune system. Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, cauliflower, and tomatoes.
Vitamin D plays a crucial part in supporting the immune system and respiratory health. Foods that are high in Vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon or tuna, beef liver, eggs, cheese and foods fortified with Vitamin D.
Zinc is also a major player in the health of the immune system. Zinc is in a lot of foods but the best sources are beef, shellfish, eggs, and legumes.
The quality of the food is just as important as the food itself. Aim for organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed and pasture-raised beef and poultry, and wild-caught fish. This enables the body to utilize the nutrients efficiently without having to compete with pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic growth hormones (which are present in conventional produce and meat).
Nadia Ahrens: The Emotional Contagion of COVID-19
Coronavirus has created a viral pandemic, but there is another byproduct of this pandemic called FEAR and that’s what I want to talk about today. Alongside the viral contagion of COVID-19, fear has spread by emotional contagion.
In simplest terms, emotional contagion is like “catching someone’s feelings”, literally like a virus. Emotional contagion is a psychological theory and research-backed phenomenon where people pick up the emotions of those around them. This includes all the fear that COVID-19 has brought. Whether it’s about getting sick, losing a loved one, or facing an uncertain future, the byproduct is fear. In this particular case, we’re seeing a ripple effect happening to every system on the planet, and the fear-factor is big.
People unconsciously mimic facial, vocal, and postural expressions they adopt from others. When this happens, the body gets feedback about the expressions we’ve taken on. We then feel what the other person is feeling. The Mirror Neuron System (a collection of cells in your brain) has built this basic survival skill so that we can synchronize, empathize, share feelings and ultimately connect with others.
But because there is such a heightened state of fear going on in the world (which is normal in such times), it is important that we stay aware of our own fears and anxieties. If we let them get the better of us, they ultimately affect not only your mindset, but the planet, and the collective emotional contagion.
What can you do to manage your fears? How can you shift from panic mode to perhaps, an intensified commitment to wellbeing? Do you have a soul-care system in place?
Here are some easy baby steps you can implement:
- Don’t ignore the news, but DO limit your consumption STAT. This includes social media. The news is the number one driver of this emotional contagion. Don’t stick your head in the sand, but for the sake of your mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to make conscious choices about what you choose to take in. Reliable sources are key, like the CDC or WHO Coronavirus webpages. You can also set a time limit for yourself so you don’t get sucked in for hours on end, or end up hooked into the news feed all day long. Try intermittent fasting from the news by limiting your consumption to a set number of hours (for example, 10 am to 6 pm). Give yourself a healthy morning buffer, and an even-wider pre-bedtime buffer to help with sleep.
- Take walks. Research has shown that walking calms your nervous system and increases serotonin levels…and who doesn’t need that right now? Fresh air, sunlight, and nature are bonus perks.
- Set boundaries! It’s okay to walk away from a conversation or tell someone, “I can’t talk about this anymore”. In fact, I did this the other day, and it felt so good.
- Take some time for yourself in the morning and start a soul-care practice: journaling, sitting quietly for a few minutes and some light exercise are my favorite go-to’s.
We are all in this together. It’s time to lean on our communities, even our virtual ones. And know that we will get through this and that there is light on the other side. What will our contribution be to the emotional contagion? We all get to decide.
Divania Timmal-Jones: Remember, We’re All in This Together
While COVID-19 should be taken seriously, it’s important for us all to not panic. Hoarding items like toilet paper, canned goods, and hand sanitizer only means that there are others out there (possibly higher-risk, more vulnerable individuals) who will not be able to obtain them.
We have to think of others as well as ourselves in times like this. Please buy only what you need. We’re all in this together.
Danna Bowman: Being a Light in a Time of Darkness
Our current situation, dire as it may be, might be offering us some silver-linings. Instead of asking ourselves “What more could go wrong?”, try asking “What is going right?” We always say, “If only I had more time…” Well, now we do!
Our newfound downtime (as long as we’re healthy) will definitely allow more quality time with family, our pets, and possibly close friends. Who says it has to be boring? There are so many things we can do, and it is a great time to make a list of activities you can revel in and savor!
Here are some ways to make the best of this time:
- Take a free online course
- Learn a new language (lots of apps for this)
- Listen to a few of those podcasts you’ve been saving
- Take a walk around the neighborhood
- Video-chat with long-distance family
- Go for a hike in the forest
- Get strong and boost your mood with thyroid-friendly home workouts
- Watch some of those TED Talks you’ve always wished you had time for
- Call some long-time friends to chat
- Enjoy the relaxing creativity of adult coloring books
- Pause to be present and thankful
- Binge-watch your favorite shows
- Practice meditation or breathwork
- Curl up with a cup of tea and a good book
- Do some spring cleaning (admittedly, this doesn’t sound like fun, but now is as good a time as any to ‘Marie Kondo’ your house)
In addition to those things, I’ll also be playing backgammon with my hubby (and kicking booty), and of course, I’ll be having many dance parties. Here’s a link to my favorite dance party mix on Spotify.
Take this opportunity to appreciate all that you DO have. Allow that inner child to reemerge. And remember to be grateful for all that is going right, even now. We can always shine our light, even in these darkest hours, maybe even brighter than ever. I plan on sharing mine.
Ginny Mahar: Feed Yourself Well
Feeding yourself well is one of the best things you can do to support your health right now. This is the ideal time to seek out and try some nourishing, nutrient-dense recipes. Plus, a little bit of recipe gathering and meal planning can help you avoid some of the unhealthy food choices we tend to make when we’re stressed.
The Thyroid Refresh recipe library is loaded with ideas, and our resource library features nutritionist-approved meal plans for every season. All of our recipes are gluten- and dairy-free, and many of them adhere to anti-inflammatory diets like Paleo or the Autoimmune Protocol. Dietary compliance is listed at the top of each recipe.
Wherever you find your recipes, it’s a good idea to avoid inflammatory foods, focus on nutrient density, and do your best to avoid processed junk food and sugary treats.
If you’re unable to go to the store, you can utilize grocery delivery or pickup options.
Our Top 10 Most Nourishing Comfort Food Recipes for Right Now:
*🔒 denotes exclusive members-only content
- 🔒 Simple Chicken Soup with Ginger & Thyme
- Hearty AIP Breakfast Bowl
- Easy Instant Golden Milk (dairy-free)
- 🔒 Italian Sausage Minestrone
- 🔒 Loaded Mediterranean Salmon
- Bacon and Chive Scalloped Potatoes
- AIP Spiced Fruit Crumble
- Cranberry Zinger
- 🔒 Roast Chicken with Lemon and Fennel
- 🔒 The Ultimate Dairy-free Mashed Potatoes
BONUS: Lemon Ginger Honey
Wherever you are, we hope you’re okay. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can support you through this difficult time.
Love and Best Wishes from the Thyroid Refresh Team!