We are going through a crisis. There’s no denying that. And if you’re someone with PCOS, committed to a healthy lifestyle, all the lockdowns are probably terrifying for you (on top of anxiety over the actual coronavirus that is). I’m sure by now you already know what you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus. But just in case you need to hear it again: don’t panic, don’t buy more than you need, wash your hands, don’t touch your face if you haven’t washed your hands, sanitize, and self-isolate if you’re sick.
I wanna talk a bit more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle that is beneficial for PCOS during this coronavirus crisis. I know a lot of you are probably panicking. Maybe you’re already on a diet and workout plan that’s giving good results and are scared that all will be lost now. I get you. When word of the lockdown first started, I panicked too. But then I remember a few simple truths.
Diet, Coronavirus & PCOS
The first time I heard about the lockdown and I saw people emptying the shelves I freaked out! I’ve done so much work to figure out what works for my body in terms of diet. I just couldn’t accept the idea that I would have to go back to eating junk foods, gluten, sugar. But then a friend of mine, whose parents are farmer reminded me of a simple truth: nature doesn’t know about pandemics, lockdowns, and economic crisis. Nature continues its job, fruits and veggies continue to grow, the need to be harvested. And that’s when it hit me: the reason I was panicking was that I’d been relying on healthy convenience foods a lot. You know, those great gluten-dairy-sugar free cookies and baked goods? And other packaged healthy stuff in general. But we don’t need that to be healthy! So here’s my tip for your PCOS diet:
Eat simple foods
Unless you have another health condition like diabetes, don’t stress so much about macros during this time. Focus on putting on your plate whole foods, cooked as simple as you can. Basically, don’t go eating french fries all day long, but don’t avoid potatoes as much as you were before. Remember foods made with one ingredient. Combine them to give your plate color and flavor.
Put it this way – this whole mess could be a chance for us to go back to a simpler way of eating. To really understand what it means to eat whole foods. And if you are trying to manage your blood sugar, eat meals regularly, this is also the perfect chance! Don’t fall into the trap of mindlessly snacking while at home. Instead, turn it into the perfect opportunity to see how you do on a more ‘ideal’ schedule of eating. Or if you already had that, keep it even if you’re not going to work anymore. Take that lunch break just as you did until now.
Exercising during the lockdown
This was another element of major panic for me. How am I gonna keep in shape if I can’t go to the gym? Or the swimming pool, or the yoga studio? Again, just like with our diet, it’s the same trap we’re falling into. We don’t need fancy equipment or machines to get in a good workout. Just as we don’t need props and singing bowls to make a good relaxing yoga session. Sure, if you’re someone who plays sports or likes to workout outside you might need to rethink your plan for now.
But again, simplicity comes to the rescue. All you need to get in a good workout is your mat and your enthusiasm. So many exercises can be done with just your bodyweight. And they can be apartment friendly too! You don’t need to jump up and down until you piss off your neighbor! Check out this video for a killer workout you can do in your apartment if you don’t believe me. As for yoga, there are so many clips on YouTube, you just need the will to start and a mat!
I won’t lie, this is a big topic. With PCOS we are more predisposed to stress and anxiety. Add to that anxiety about a new virus, the lockdown, the risk of losing revenue, it’s all a big mess! Here are some quick tips to help you:
- Stop reading the news! I can’t emphasize this enough. Sure you need to know the basics of what’s going on. But you don’t need to keep listening to all the predictions and images of disasters that the media is trying to show us. Tragic news sell. So the media is always going to emphasize that. You will feel much better when you stop reading all their disaster-filled articles. What will be, will be. Stressing over it isn’t gonna make things easier.
- Keep in contact with friends and make a commitment to have COVID-free conversations. It might seem easier said than done. But you can talk about your favorite book, or movie, or what activities you’re trying out while on lockdown. The point is to keep the conversation optimistic. Life goes on and there is life outside of the Coronavirus mess. Remember that in your conversations with your loved ones.
- Maintain your schedule as normal as possible. It might be tempting if you’re working from home, or not working at all to go all chaotic with your life rhythm. You know the style – waking up late, staying up late, eating at random times, munching all day, working out only when you “feel like it”. Don’t fall into this trap! Keep your schedule as normal as you can – wake up at the same time, have balanced meals at regular hours, workout at the same time (or try a new time if you wish, but keep it constant). If you work from home, set your working hours! I’ve been a freelancer for a while, so I know how tempting it can be to have a “flexible” work schedule. But all that does is create more confusion and stress for your body. Why? Because you’ll soon end up working pretty much all day, taking weird, not very relaxing breaks, and never having any real downtime. If you’re not working, use the extra time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time. Read that book, start a blog, take an online course!
- Take some quiet time away from technology. All this staying inside means we’re spending more time in front of our computers. If you can’t go out, try meditating, or just put on some music and dance without staring at the screen. Knit, crochet, paint, take care of plants or pets. Anything that keeps you away from your phone/TV/computer works!
Coronavirus and PCOS – should you worry about your immunity?
Well, I won’t lie, this is a tricky one. You can have perfectly normal immunity with PCOS. There are no studies suggesting PCOS in and of itself puts you at a greater risk to contract viruses. There are a few issues you should be aware of.
1. High/irregular blood sugar and diabetes can lower your immune system
This is something to remember now, during this pandemic, and generally all the time. High blood sugar can weaken your body’s ability to fight infections, and this is something that has been scientifically proven. Diabetes is also known for lowering your immune system. And you may have heard that people with diabetes are considered high risk during this coronavirus outbreak. Now, insulin resistance and diabetes are not the same. But we can’t deny that insulin resistance is for many a precursor to diabetes and it comes with irregular blood sugar. So if you have either of these conditions, pay close attention to your health during this time.
2. PCOS can sometimes come with autoimmune conditions
Thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s are a good example. They will make your immune system work improperly, which could put you at a greater risk of contracting the virus.
3. The birth control pill depletes nutrients that are essential for your immune system
While this isn’t solely related to PCOS, I know many women take the pill to manage their PCOS symptoms, or even just as birth control. And one common side effect of the pill is that it depletes nutrients such as B vitamins. Other vitamins and minerals that could be depleted, especially with long-term use of the pill include:
- vitamin C,
- vitamin E,
Can you see why this might affect your immunity? Supplementing is crucial at this time, but preferably talk to a health care professional before starting taking new supplements. Eating a balanced diet, with whole foods will also be extremely helpful. Something else that could help is taking a probiotic. This will help your body better absorb nutrients.
We’re living scary times. In a way, I guess we’re witnessing history being made. Whether you are scared of the actual virus or just the side effects this crisis will have on your life, the truth is we’re all affected by what’s happening. Coronavirus and PCOS put together may sound scary, but don’t become paranoid either! A few simple lifestyle adjustments can help you cope with the situation really well. We also have an advantage, if you think about it. We’re already focused on our health – eating well, moving, managing stress and anxiety, taking supplements. You might say many of us are well ahead of others in taking preventative steps against the virus. So do your best to relax and look at the opportunities that arise in this crisis!