Struggling with the Scale? Your Thyroid May Be to Blame

vegetarian quinoa stuffing on tableMany people start the new year with the intentions of losing weight. While starting and sticking to a healthier lifestyle can be a challenge, there may be more to your issues than lack of willpower or your love of dessert.

The thyroid is a small gland located in your neck. It produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism. If the thyroid is underactive, a condition known as hypothyroidism, it doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. This can slow down metabolism, leading to symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, joint pain and feeling cold.

If the thyroid is overactive, a condition called hyperthyroidism, it produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to an increased metabolism. This can result in weight loss, along with other symptoms like anxiety, rapid heartbeat and heat intolerance.

When thyroid issues are left undiagnosed and untreated, it may lead to further complications, like an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Thyroid Disease and Your Weight

If you suspect thyroid dysfunction, contacting your physician should come first. To properly diagnose thyroid disease, your physician may perform a series of tests and screenings, including blood tests, ultrasound or thyroid scans and radioactive iodine uptake testing.

From your results, your physician will be able to determine the status of your thyroid and an appropriate treatment plan.

Of course, whether you have thyroid issues or not, it’s always smart to start, and stick with, healthier lifestyle changes. Intentionally moving your body every day, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and staying hydrated are great places to start. Be prepared to speak to a healthcare professional about your weight goals and be honest about your concerns. They’ll best be able to create a course of action that’s more likely to be sustainable and work with your body’s needs.