Yeast Food Intolerances and Thyroid Problem

Perhaps, as you have moved through the weight loss phases of Atkins, you have inadvertently added into your regimen a particular food that is triggering a metabolic reaction. This reaction can cause you to hit a weight loss plateau.

In Part Four, I discuss problems that I've long referred to as diet-related disorders. These aren't problems that arise from embarking on a weight loss program. I'm using the word diet in its larger sense, to signify, simply, the types of foods you eat. So let's take a quick look at some of those disorders to see if they might account for your plateau.


If you've been eating a high-sugar diet for years, it's quite possible that your digestive tract has an overgrowth of an organism called Candida albicans. In addition to overgrowth of yeast in the gastrointestinal tract, most people also experience an allergic inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body. This can result from exposure to environmental mold (in your cellar, for example) or eating foods that contain yeast. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, heartburn and even abdominal pain and rectal or vaginal itching. All are a sign of yeast overgrowth in the mucous membranes. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, headaches (even migraines), post-nasal drip, brain fog and water retention are often signs of allergy resulting from exposure to environmental mold or mold in food products such as cheese and nuts.

In addition to its other annoying or painful symptoms, Candida overgrowth or allergy can keep you from losing weight by causing cravings for sweets. Indulging those cravings will cause unstable blood sugar and more carbohydrate cravings. Candida thrives on sugar, but with Atkins you've already sent all that wretched, tempting sweet stuff into deep Siberian exile. However, Atkins does allow cheese, nuts, vinegar, mushrooms and pickles-all of which are aged or fermented items-and will provoke symptoms. If you discover or suspect you have a yeast problem, those foods will have to go for at least some period of time to give your body a rest from exposure.

Here are some examples of how a yeast problem could lead to a weight loss plateau. Say you had always been sensitive to a food such as cheese, but were eating very little or none while you were on a low-fat regimen. When you started doing Atkins, you began to eat more cheese, which eventually triggered a yeast overgrowth or allergy. Another scenario: You were prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection, and that triggered an overgrowth of yeast. Yet another possibility is that the increased environmental mold typical of humid summer weather might have tipped you over the edge. Finally, hormonal changes can trigger yeast reactions. Any of these could cause your weight loss efforts to stall. Although the mechanism that links yeast to a plateau is not well understood, I have observed this to be a problem in many patients, and they had to address it to make progress in their weight loss efforts. If you feel you might be sensitive to yeast, take the "Yeast Symptoms" questionnaire on page 332. If you have a major yeast problem, your engine will most likely stall out at some point in the program, so-even i1 your only concern is weight loss-take care.


I believe that food allergies (more properly called individual food intolerances) to substances other than yeast can be a major roadblock to weight loss. Without knowing it you may have added to your meal plan a food to which you are allergic. Wheat and wheat products are frequently culprits. Other common problem foods include milk, cheese, eggs and soy. Eating a food to which you're allergic may cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal or respiratory problems, joint pain and skin eruptions. From the point of view of someone trying to slim down, the most damaging aspect of eating a food to which you're allergic is its tendency tc cause cravings, which, if indulged, can lead to unstable blood sugar. Your real challenge will be to discover that you have a food intolerance in the first place and then to determine which food is the culprit. Please read Chapter 26 carefully.


The other diet-related disorder that can cause a weight loss plateau concerns the thyroid gland. This remarkable little butterfly-shaped organ regulates the production of energy in our cells. If it becomes underactive-a condition called hypothyroidism, which is not uncommon as you age or develop hormonal imbalances-you will become sluggish and overweight. Whenever a person is incapable of losing weight on the best weight loss program available (namely, this one), my first suspicion is a thyroid problem.

If nothing I tell you here or elsewhere works for you, then turn directly to Chapter 20 and follow the detailed advice it contains on how to diagnose and treat an underactive thyroid (see pages 269-271). This is one problem for which you'll certainly need a doctor's assistance. Fortunately, treatments for hypothyroidism are straightforward and generally quite effective.

If you lost weight initially doing Atkins but now have plateaued, that does not necessarily exclude a thyroid explanation. Prolonged dieting (of any type) will sometimes cause reduction in thyroid function.' Your body, feeling a little disturbed at all the pounds you're taking off, is playing with your "set point," the weight level it thinks it ought to keep you at to prevent starvation. Heed the thyroid discussion in Chapter 20 and you'll get things back on track.

If you have any one of these three diet-related disorders-yeast, food intolerances or thyroid problems-you must seriously address it or in time it will make your life an utter misery.

Of course, I hope that your problems are simpler ones. Many of you, in fact, will find that your plateau is easily solved in the next section.

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