• Chloe McElmury

Low Iodine Diet Guide

Updated: Apr 6

Want to listen to this information instead? Listen to the podcast episode on LID, here or wherever you listen to podcasts!


What does LID mean and what is it used for?

LID stands for low iodine diet. The LID diet helps prepare your body for upcoming radioactive iodine treatment.


LID makes it so that any remaining thyroid cells are starving for iodine. So, when you take the RAI dose, those cells will take up that radioactive iodine. Then when you have a scan, it will be easy to see where the iodine has gone in your body. Maybe you will have no uptake, but the scans will be able to show if you’ve got uptake anywhere in your body where there are thyroid cells. This is helpful to identify recurrence after many years, or even to find some thyroid tissue that was possibly missed during surgery.


Iodine in food products

Iodine is used in the care and feeding of animals and in food processing.So, it can be found in different amounts in all food and beverages. The highest sources (and those to be avoided) are iodized salt, grains and cereals, some breads, fish from the sea, shellfish, beef, poultry, pudding mixes, milk and milk products. You should receive a detailed list from your medical team, but I have found the information isn’t all always the same or patients are left wanting more information.


Foods to avoid during LID:

  • Iodized salt

  • Any vitamins or supplements that contain iodine (especially kelp and dulse)

  • Milk or other dairy products including ice cream, cheese, yogurt and butter

  • Seafood including fish, sushi, shellfish, kelp or seaweed

  • Herbal supplements

  • Foods that contain the additive carrageen, agar-agar, alginate, or nori

  • Commercially prepared bakery products that are made with iodate dough conditioners

  • FD&C red dye #3 – this appears in maraschino cherries and occasionally as a pink/red artificial color in beverages

  • Egg yolks, whole eggs and foods containing whole eggs

  • Milk chocolate (due to dairy content)

  • Blackstrap Molasses (unsulfured molasses is fine)

  • Soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu) [note: soy does not contain iodine. However, high soy ingestion has been shown to interfere with radioactive iodine uptake in animal studies so it’s best to avoid during your LID!

Foods that are okay during LID:

  • Non-iodized salt or non-iodized sea salt may be used as desired. You can find this at any supermarket or grocery store, just read the labels!

  • Egg whites

  • Unsweetened almond milk

  • Homemade bread made with non-iodized salt and oil (not soy!) instead of butter or milk; or commercially-baked breads which do not contain iodate dough conditioners, dairy, or eggs. It will probably be easiest to bake your own white bread! Try this recipe!

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Frozen vegetables

  • Grain, cereal products and pasta without high iodine ingredients

  • Canned fruit

  • Natural unsalted nuts and nut butters (peanut, almond, etc)

  • Sodas, beer, wine, lemonade, fruit juices

  • Coffee or tea. But remember, no milk or cream and no soy-based non-dairy creamer! You can try something like a coconutmilk creamer as long as it doesn’t have salt. For example, Starbuck’s Coconut and Almond Milk options are not allowed because they contain sea salt.

  • Popcorn popped in vegetable oil or air popped, with non-iodized salt

  • Black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices, all vegetable oils. Spices are your best friend!

  • Sugar, jam, jelly, honey and maple syrup

  • Matzo crackers

  • Meats are okay, but you want to limit your intake of beef, chicken and turkey. You’ll find yourself eating a lot of veggies and fruits!


Other special notes:

  • Avoid restaurant foods since there is no reasonable way to determine which restaurants use iodized salt. You can use the website lidlifecommunity.org to look up some restaurants. For example, you can have Chipotle but without the cheese and sour cream. If you do go out, something like a salad would probably be your best bet.

  • Ask your doctor before discontinuing any red-colored medication or any medication containing iodine (i.e., Amiodarone, expectorants, topical antiseptics).

  • Avoid all herbal supplements (especially when one is not sure how much iodine they contain). When in doubt, ask your doctor!


Getting ready for your isolation after RAI? Why not sport the perfect shirt for the occasion! Check out our I Did Isolation Before It Was Cool design!


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