I believe good health gives you freedom to live life on your terms!
You have an autoimmune thyroid condition and struggle with fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, mood swings and digestion issues (to name just a few!). The symptoms can be overwhelming and they impact your quality of life. Your body is crying out for help and you want to take charge of your own health but your doctor says all you can do is take medications.
Deep down inside you know there must be changes you can make to help yourself.
There are, I know because I have Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune thyroid condition. By focusing on the root causes of my autoimmunity and the lifestyle components that impact overall health, I was able to bring my thyroid and my health back into balance.
I’m Karla Goplen, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner and a board certified Health and Wellness Coach. I help women with Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease go beyond medications to optimize their health.
I love to eat, always have! I know most people do, but some say I’m obsessed with food (in a good way, I’d say). It’s why my first career was in the hotel and restaurant business. I enjoyed living in a food mecca and eating gourmet foods. But at one point I transitioned away from a food focused job and became the assistant manager of a resort health club. I began to exercise more regularly and loved how I felt. I wanted to support my body anyway I could so I began to focus on how food impacts health. I believed then (and more so now) that food is the foundation of health. I went back to school to study nutrition and started a new career as a registered dietitian.
I was surprised when I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a thyroid autoimmune condition which causes hyperthyroidism. I didn’t know a lot about autoimmune conditions at the time. My doctor couldn’t tell me why I had an autoimmune condition or what I could do about it. He only addressed my thyroid gland. I was offered a radioactive thyroid ablation to destroy my thyroid enough to slow it down. Without a properly functioning thyroid I would need to take thyroid hormone medications for life. I was shocked, this just seemed too radical so I declined their offer for the time being. My other option was a medication to slow down my thyroid but it had potentially harmful affects on the liver. That was it, there weren’t any other options and the complications of Graves’ Disease can be life threatening. Fortunately, although I was having symptoms, they weren’t life threatening at the time. So before agreeing to any treatments or medications, I asked for 6 months before making any decisions – my doctor gave me 3 months.
It didn’t make sense to me that the options my doctor offered were the only thing that I could do to help myself.
The way I saw it there really wasn’t anything “wrong” with my thyroid per se, except that it was being attacked by my own immune system. This attack is serious and can continue to damage the thyroid gland the longer it continues. But in my opinion the thyroid gland seemed like the innocent victim in all of this. Don’t get me wrong, the victim usually does need medical attention at some point, but only addressing the thyroid wasn’t stopping the attacker (the autoimmunity).
I wanted to understand autoimmunity and find solutions that my doctor’s didn’t have. I didn’t find anyone to guide me, so I set out to learn all I could about thyroid autoimmune diseases.
I was alarmed to learn that if you have one autoimmune disease you are three times more likely to develop another one and there’s a higher prevalence of celiac disease in people with autoimmune thyroid conditions compared to the general population. Autoimmunity happens on a continuum, so the damage to the tissue being attacked (in my case the thyroid) could get worse overtime.
I wanted to do everything I could to control my autoimmunity.
I studied integrative and functional nutrition, which focuses on each individual’s unique picture in a holistic way. This is an evidenced based, personalized and collaborative approach to health and healing that addresses the underlying imbalances and causes of someone’s symptoms and provides nutrition and lifestyle recommendations tailored to each person.
It is believed that having an autoimmune condition means you have:
1. a genetic predisposition;
2. some kind of trigger for the gene to express itself;
3. some type of immune dysfunction (one example is leaky gut).
This means that each person’s triggers and symptoms are unique so how their autoimmunity is managed needs to be personalized. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to feeling better.
Focusing first on my diet to heal my gut, I figured out what foods I needed to stop eating and which I needed to start eating more of. I found supplements to support my nutrition and had additional labs done to look further into what else was contributing to my autoimmunity.
I believe good health also means balancing all the parts that make us Wholly Well. So I went beyond nutrition, and addressed other lifestyle areas such as sleep, stress/resiliency, my environment (from my home and work spaces to environmental toxins), relationships, physical activity and spirituality (what gives meaning or purpose).
After 3 months, I was starting to feel better and knew I was on the right track. My labs slowly started to improve. An autoimmune disease doesn’t go away and can express itself differently at different times with relapses and remissions. Understanding autoimmunity has been extremely helpful. Staying in remission as long as possible is my goal.
The part can never be well unless the whole is well”
Although medications or treatments are often necessary, I was fortunate; I found my path back to health without medications or medical interventions. It took some time and I continue to monitor myself and make changes.
I talked to many people in different professions to find answers. I read a lot and tried many nutrition and lifestyle approaches. I learned a lot along the way through both study and trial and error.
I knew I wanted to take charge of my health, but I didn’t actually want to figure it out on my own at the time! I kept looking for someone who understood thyroid autoimmunity who could coach me through the process. I wanted a guide to simplify things so I could focus on what worked.
I didn’t find that person, so I want to be that person for you!
When you’re not feeling well, trying to figure out how to help yourself can be overwhelming to say the least.
I’m here to guide you so you can take charge of your health and get back to feeling like yourself again!
Training & Credentials
Karla Goplen, RDN, CLT, IFNCP, NBC-HWC
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
– Dietetic Internship, University of California Davis Medical Center
– Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, Kansas State University
Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner (IFNCP), Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy
Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT), Oxford Biomedical Technologies
Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) Instructor, Mindful Eating Awareness Training Institute
National Board Certified – Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)
Integrative Health Coaching Certification, Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, The University of Arizona
Integrative Health & Lifestyle Program, Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, The University of Arizona
Free! 5 Key Nutrients Your Thyroid Needs to Thrive (and where to find them)!
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