The Big C: The Dietary Challenge

When the endocrinologist told me I’d need to limit my intake of iodine for a week before taking my radioactive pill, I thought, “No problem.” I rarely eat seafood, and I don’t each much salt anyway. Piece of cake.

Rather, no cake for me, because it’s made with butter and eggs, both of which contain iodine. Who knew? Fortunately for me, a lot of people know, because they have posted helpful lists of what you can and can’t eat before, and immediately after, taking a radioactive pill.

The main things are no dairy, no eggs, no milk chocolate (milk+dairy). no red dye #3, nothing from the sea, and no soybeans (although soybean oil and soy lecithin are okay).

Thyrogen, the company that makes a preparatory medication that I’ll be receiving on January 3rd and 4th, has lists of appropriate and banned foods on its website. Several medical centers have posted helpful information. One of the most useful sites is the LID Life Community (LID=Low Iodine Diet). They actually have lists by brand name showing pictures of products that are safe.

I’ve started the shopping. We bought vegan buttery spread and Arnold 100% Whole Wheat bread, which is on the safe lists on several websites. I can have toast. We bought plain instant oatmeal, to which I can add some brown sugar and maple syrup. We plan to pick up some Egg Beaters closer to the day. Breakfast is taken care of.

Some of my low-iodine grocery purchases.

We picked up vegan mayonnaise, so I can have sandwiches, and I figure I can mix in a little honey and mustard and make salad dressing. Tim will be here for most of my prep-week, so he’ll be cooking for me. We have chicken breasts and ground beef, and a whole bag of potatoes (which I can eat with my buttery spread and non-iodine salt). I have several single-serving fruit cups of pineapples and pears. We bought unsalted peanut butter, so I can have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Oh, and unsalted peanuts for a crunchy snack.

I plan to pick up some fresh fruit and Oreo Cookies (according to LID Life, they don’t contain milk chocolate). I’ll also get some non-dairy milk for drinking with PB&Js, and adding to hot tea. I may also get some non-dairy whipped topping (I thought Cool Whip qualified, but apparently it contains cream), because if you add hot chocolate mix (or in my case, Hershey’s Cocoa and sugar), it makes a kind of mousse.

The worst part, of course, is that many beans are high in iodine. I saw on the banned list kidney beans and soybeans and navy beans, and I thought, “Oh, no!” and I looked up black-eyed peas, and I learned they’re a major source of iodine. It’s a southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. My pap-pa always told me, you earn a dollar in the new year for every pea you eat on New Year’s Day. I figure they’re worth even more now! But alas, this year, my bag of peas (which I bought weeks ago), will sit uncooked on the counter until the dawn of 2023.

The paperwork from the doctor says to follow the low iodine diet for one week before taking the radioactive pill and 24 hours after. I’ll probably start on Tuesday, December 28th, just to be on the safe side; my pill date is January 5th. I can start adding back in foods with iodine the afternoon of January 6th.

I won’t starve, but it’s going to be weird.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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2 Responses to The Big C: The Dietary Challenge

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    Sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place. I had to radically change my diet for months once. Not easy, and at least you only need to do it for 9 days. Good luck with the treatment!

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