Low-Iodine Diet (LID)

A couple of weeks ago I had a painful reminder from my salivary gland that the RAI (radioactive iodine) treatment is starting to take a toll.  Almost two years ago, I took RAI (I-131) to kill any remaining cancer cells lurking around in my thyroid tissue.  This was done a couple of weeks after my thyroidectomy.  I didn’t have any issues with my salivary glands during that time.
If it’s not one gland, it’s another.  Instead of my thyroid gland being diagnosed with cancer, now my parotid gland has been diagnosed with sialadenitis.  Oh joy!  At this point, it is hard to say if my sialadenitis of the parotid gland is a direct result of the RAI or not.  There is not too much research on the long-term effects of RAI to date.  However, I did find a case study in the JADA called Salivary Gland Injury Resulting From Exposure to Radioactive Iodine that was very informative.  According to this study, “In the majority of cases, when a patient receives therapeutic doses of 131I, the patient develops an asymmetric radiation sialadenitis. Obstructive symptomatology is to be expected. Oral dryness occurs less often and is related directly to high dosages and the passage of time. Clinicians should be aware of the condition to avoid unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic measures.”
Back to my story…
The pain and swelling continued for several days.  I finally went to the Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor) last week and was told to drink a lot of water, suck candies, massage the salivary gland area and put a warm compress on it. The goal is to keep the saliva flowing and wash away any blockage. I did all of those things and it got better. I went a couple of days without swelling or pain. Then this morning I had a few bites of breakfast and the pain came back with the swelling. Nooooo! Not again!! I took Advil, massaged the area and put on a warm compress. It helped. But a girls gotta eat, so by lunch time I tried again.  It didn’t go too well. I called and left a message for my ENT and am waiting to hear back. This is very frustrating. I’m trying to keep it in perspective. Things could always be worse. I’m grateful that the thyroid cancer is in remission. Since that is the reason the RAI was even done, I need to remind myself that it did work.
My life is really good! However, eating is kind of important, so I’m hoping my parotid gland gets better soon!  Until then, I will be massaging away, chain chewing gum and sucking candies, drinking lots of water and sharing my journey with all of you.

Knowledge is power!  Below are some websites I have found to be helpful.  They have good information about the thyroid, thyroid cancer, radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, low-iodine diet (LID) and other thyroid cancer related topics. 


ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association http://www.thyca.org/  If you’re looking for yummy LID recipes be sure to visit Thyca Low Iodine Cookbook 


Thyroid Cancer Songs  http://www.thyroidcancersongs.com/index.html  These fun songs are sure to lift the spirit and remind people with thyroid cancer that they are not alone.


Thyroid Cancer Site http://thyroidcancersite.com


American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org 


Relay for Life http://tinyurl.com/jhurelay4life


 American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists http://www.aace.com


American Thyroid Association  http://www.thyroid.org 








http://www.hormone.org The Hormone Foundation 


http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=5437#recover Life after thyroid cancer 


http://www.thyroid-cancer.net Johns Hopkins Thyroid Cancer Center  

http://www.thyroid-info.com Unbiased News, Books and Support 


http://www.dearthyroid.org Literary thyroid support community 


http://checkyourneck.com  Light of Life Foundation 


http://twitter.com/tcancersurvivor  If you’re on twitter, follow me! 

If you have helpful thyroid cancer sites to add, please post them in the comment section.  I will add them to this blog after reviewing them. 


Thanks in advance!

The iodine radiation treatment worked.  Oh yeah!  I got the follow up results from my bloodwork and thyroid ultrasound today.  It looks good and the blood levels were close to perfect.  Some extra unexpected good news was I lost about 8 pounds since March. I could tell by how my clothes fit, but the confirmation was nice to hear.

So if you’re about to go on the LID (Low Iodine Diet) to prepare for the iodine radiation, I’m cancer-free proof that it works.  Stay positive, replace fear with faith and keep walking through that storm.  There is lots of light on the other side.  I know because I’m taking it all in today!


Fruit and Veggie Platter

Well I’m counting down the days until I can be a part of the non-iodized world again.  I had a friend over for lunch and she shared with me.  I just started cutting and chopping away some of the fruits & veggies and made a platter.  Then I added the non-salt peanutbutter mixed with a little kosher salt.  She had some hummus with the unsalted tortilla chips with it.

Me and my Sodium Free Whole Wheat Bread from Trader Joes :)

Me and my Sodium Free Whole Wheat Bread from Trader Joes 🙂

LID diet

In order to prepare my body for the radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment and scan, I had to go on a low-iodine diet (LID). I must admit that I was not too thrilled to find out that I was going to have to greatly limit my diet for over 2 weeks by going on a low-iodine diet (LID).  But in reality that is such a short amount of time when I compare it to the remaining wonderful years of my life.  Plus I’m doing it so that those cancer cells will be zapped away once and for all! 

So I got fired up, made an adjustment to my attitude and started searching online. I had to be on the LID for 18 days.  That is 54 meals and lots of snacks…Yikes!  One low iodine diet food item at a time.  To my surprise, it was not too easy to find things to eat at first.  Sure ThyCa lists recipes on their site, but I didn’t want to have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing dozens of meals. 

In an effort to save YOU time and worry, I have put together some lists.

Food products with no or low-iodine that I used:

  • Condiments: Kosher salt, Pepper, Mrs. Dash, Heinz No Salt Ketchup, Thyca red wine vinaigrette
  • Trader Joes No Salt Wheat Bread
  • Trader Joes No Salt Corn Tortilla Chips (surprisingly good)
  • Yehuda Matzos (Jewish unleavened flat bread)
  • Trader Joes Steal Cut Oatmeal – I added blueberries and sweetner for taste
  • Trader Joes No Salt Peanut Butter
Fruits and Veggies:  There are so many fruits and vegetables to pick from in April/May, so that made things a bit easier for me:).   However, with so many to select from, it got a bit overwhelming.  Below are some ideas for snacks or sides that I used.  Hopefully some will work for you!
  • Mashed Butternut Squash – Cut a butternut squash into cubes. Boil a pot of water with a bit of Kosher salt.  Put the squash into boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes.  Drain and put the squash into a bowl.  Add honey, cinnamon and sugar (or sweetner) and mash away!  It is so good and goes great as a side dish for lunch or dinner.
  • Celery and Trader Joe’s no salt peanut butter (Good snack)
  • Snow Pea Pods (Enjoyable, crunchy afternoon snack)
  • Baked apples with cinnamon
  • Frozen Grapes (A sweet, cold treat)
  • Fruit salad – grapes, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries & any other fruit you desire
  • Homemade Guacamole (Avocado, finely chopped onion, chopped tomato, lime, kosher salt, cilantro) with non salt tortilla chips
Additional Food products with no or low-iodine that I read about, but did not get a chance to use:
  • Nature’s Path called Manna Bread in a range of flavors
  • Manischewitz unsalted potato chips
  • Newman’s Own Unsalted Organic Microwave Popcorn
  • Terra Unsalted Hickory BBQ Potato Chips
  • Mr. Spice Honey BBQ Sauce
  • Mr. Spice Thai Peanut Sauce
  • GottaLuvIT Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Gotta Luv It Sweet & Tangy Italian Dressing
  • Health Valley No Salt Added Split Pea Soup
  • Trader Joe’s Low Salt Items – Low salt is NOT low iodine, however I found this to be very helpful.  As it turns out, many of the products on their list were low iodine.  Just read the ingredients carefully and you’ll see what I mean.

Helpful Low-Iodine Cookbooks:

Post-LID Suggestion:

I suggest putting together a schedule of LID meals for the week.  I did NOT do this the first week and felt totally overwhelmed.  Planning in advance made things much easier.  I made a list of LID meals for the second week and it made a world of difference. 

If you are about to embark on the low iodine diet journey, I wish you the best.  I reminded myself on a regular basis why I was on the LID and it always helped to put things in perspective.  Changing my diet for a few weeks to beat cancer is a small sacrifice for the big gift of remission. 

Sending you hope, strength, patience, positivity and prayers…

The Low-Iodine Diet (LID) is a little easier to follow if you know what ingredients to avoid on the food labels.  Iodine is in so many things that it is really hard to go food shopping without some good information.  It is not as simple as looking for the word iodized salt (althought that is one of them).  So here is a list of some food ingredient items to AVOID during the LID time.

  • Iodized Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Iodine
  • Iodate
  • Iodide
  • Alginate
  • Algi
  • Agar
  • Carrageenan
  • Nori
  • Red dye #3

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