Thursday, September 17, 2015

Low Iodine - What are the "rules?"

The low iodine diet for thyroid cancer treatment is extremely hard to stick with, all the more so because there is no consensus on how long to stay on it or what foods are forbidden/allowed. Iodine isn't one of the nutrients marked on food labels, and no list exists anywhere with actual numbers for common foods. THYCA's list isn't the same as the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and neither of those matches the NIH guidelines or the Mayo Clinic. Beans are a no-no. Beans are just fine. Soy is forbidden, but tofu is OK if your a vegetarian. Stay on it for 4 weeks pre-ablation or test. No, only 1-2 weeks is necessary for a good result.
The uncertainty is maddening, particularly because it is your health - and your life - hinging on accurate results. I don't want to be told that all fruits and vegetables are fine in any quantity, then get a false negative because I ate too many strawberries or too much broccoli.
I found and bookmarked this blog post a few years ago,  because it (and the comments) expressed much of what I was feeling about the experience of living with this cancer and coping with the diet. Treatment for thyroid cancer is isolating and frustrating. The lack of good information only adds to the frustration.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Low Iodine - Potato and Green Chile Stew

Cool weather will be upon us soon here in the mid-Atlantic, and vegetable soups of all kinds are perfect for a low-iodine diet. Try this tasty stew from noted author and vegetarian Deborah Madison if you want a little something different - use homemade chicken stock or water and leave out the sour cream. Go ahead and double this recipe, as it reheats very well.


  • 1 or 2 long green chiles or poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock (homemade with uniodized salt) or water
  • Sour cream to finish (leave out for low-iodine)
  • Chopped cilantro to finish


    1. Chop the chiles coarsely. Heat the oil in a wide pot; add the onion and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, garlic, and potatoes, followed by the chile along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and give a stir. Cook together of a few minutes, then add the water or stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.

    2. Cook and cover until the potatoes are completely softened, about 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. At this point you can mash the potatoes, or at least a few of them to give the dish a creamy sort of background, if desired.

    3. Pour into a bowl, and add the cilantro. (I also add a squeeze of lime)