Low iodine diet tips

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

You have heard about my aging knees and more recently my pandemic induced changing hair color. Effects of aging happen whether we like it or not. Let’s back up to pre-pandemic times, April 2019. I was headed to the Doc to talk about a recent lab, my lipid levels. To my dismay, it was not my lipid levels that became the topic of discussion, but my TSH. TSH is a snapshot of your thyroid function. Mine was a little elevated and my thyroid a “little puffy.” Symptom-free, after repeating some labs, an ultrasound and ruling out a common culprit in women, Hashiomotos, an autoimmune hypothyroid disease, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Ground Hog Day had arrived as I began to hear a repetitive phrase “If you are going to get cancer, this is one of the best ones to get.” It was still heartbreaking and no matter how many docs and people tell you this….the big C is scary! I did not have time for this. I was already knee deep in asparagus season and strawberries were less than 30 days away! A Doc-friend of mine told me, “there is no good time for ca.”

 I was able to get through strawberry season and headed to my first of many visits with my new long-term doctor, which began a whirlwind of multiple doc visits, pokes, prods, scans, ultrasounds, and workups. The finale of step one was a quick, expensive trip to the James to have my thyroid removed by a doc with magical hands and his band of Doogie Housers. I asked the band of boys if the sticky substance they found between the tumor and my neck muscle was like honey. They laughed and told me it was more like tar. Yuk!

 Due to this pesky tar substance, two months later was step two: RAI, radioactive iodine. This was an interesting step that included following a low iodine diet for 2.5 weeks. The diet included limited meat/chicken, no dining out, no processed foods, no food with salt (you could add your own non-iodized salt), no seafood, no egg yolks, no bakery products, no chocolate and the killer for me…No dairy!. What followed ridding my body of iodine, was a series of body scans, bloodletting, a couple of shots in the tush, ingesting a gel tab filled with RAI and glowing for 7-10 days. Just kidding on the glowing but I did have to double bag all my garbage, use all disposables, flush the toilet X 3 and banish Paul to the upstairs bedroom. Fast forward 8 months post quarantine release and I am disease free. Luckily for me, your thyroid is one of those organs you can live without, with proper medication of course. This adventure was not expected, desired or fun. It did, however, give me a new perspective of gratitude. I found strength I did not know I had and deepened my faith journey.

 The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 52,890 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2020. The most common thyroid cancers are very slow growing and three times more likely in women. My friend the doc told me, the most common time for thyroid cancer diagnosis used to be post-death of another cause! Thyroid cancer in recent years has seen rapid growth due to increased detection. Everyone dreads a cancer diagnosis, but I guess they were right, if you are going to get cancer, this one is one of the best ones to get! September is thyroid cancer Awareness Month. Find it early with regular neck checks.

Eat well and Healthy!


If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and RAI is prescribed check out the Low-Iodine Cookbook on www.thyca.org.

Chili Powder thyca.org

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients.

Balsamic Vinaigrette thyca.org

1 oz. honey

1 oz. Dijon mustard

6 oz. balsamic vinegar

6 oz. olive oil

¼ tsp. non-iodized salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix and shake until it emulsifies. Use as salad dressing, meat/poultry marinade or pasta salad.

Chili Shelly

1-pound ground beef

1 large onion

1 large pepper, chopped (shelly added)

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 1/5 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 can no salt black beans

1 can no salt fire roasted chopped tomatoes

1 can no salt beef broth

non-iodized salt to taste, start with 1 tsp.

Brown ground beef, add onion, garlic, and peppers. Dump in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. Adjust with non-iodized salt till it tastes good to you.

Blueberry Pancakes thyca.org

1 ¼ c flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. non-iodized salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3 egg whites

2 Tbsp. oil

¾ c water

½ to 1 cup Blueberries

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together and make a well. Pour in the wet ingredients just until mixed. Let batter set for 5 minutes. Gently fold in the blueberries. Pour pancakes on hot griddle sprayed with vegetable oil. Serve with real maple syrup.

Aunt Betty’s Apple Walnut Cake Shelly

2 cup sugar

½ c oil

3 egg white

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. non-iodized salt

2 c chopped apples

1 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar

Mix wet ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients just until mixed well. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° 45 minutes or a bit longer until a tester comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar.

No-Bake Cookies thyca.org

1 cup sugar

1 cup unsalted peanut butter

¼ tsp. non-iodized salt

4 Tbsp. oil

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups oats

Stir first 5 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. When it is mixed well and creamy, add oats ½ cup at a time. Drop on waxed paper till cool.

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