The PCOS diet is an incredibly debatable subject because the syndrome presents itself in so many forms, it is impossible to find a one-size fit all approach. That being said, a balanced diet is crucial with any hormonal imbalance and PCOS is no exception. In order to heal, the first step in determining the right approach for you is to figure out which type of PCOS you have. That is because women who are insulin resistant will benefit from reducing simple carbs from their diets, much more than someone with the adrenal type with. There are, of course, certain foods that all women with a hormonal imbalance should avoid. And there are those we should all get more of, regardless of the type of PCOS we have.
Reduce sugar intake
I know deep down you were expecting this. Sugar is a major source of inflammation and that is the last thing someone suffering from PCOS needs. I know what you’re thinking: I need to have something sweet every once in a while. And I get that, I do too! The goal is not to focus on completely eliminating everything with sugar in it. Such an approach will make you miserable and set you out for failure. Try to go slow. Eliminate processed sweets. Stick to a bit of dark chocolate every now and then. And, of course, fruits! They are the best to use when you’re transitioning off sugar.
If you are insulin resistant, you want to pay special attention to how you eat anything with sugar in it. Make smart combinations and when the worst cravings hit, make sure you are not hungry or thirsty first. And unless you know you are eating too much, pay close attention to not reduce your calory intake too much. It is something that often happens when we start eliminating certain foods. We just remove them and don’t replace them with anything. The result? We end up “hangry”, craving all the unhealthy things we are eliminating. Make smart choices and replacements.
Eliminate cow’s dairy
Like I talked about in previous posts, cow’s dairy is a huge source of inflammation. It is the absolute worse if you have inflammatory PCOS, but just as bad if you have the insulin-resistant type. Replace it with coconut or almond milk, but watch out for their ingredients. These two beverages can often contain a lot of chemicals. A very good alternative is also sheep and/or goat dairy. Both are higher in fat, so they are actually likely to keep you full for longer AND to keep your blood sugar balanced. This is absolutely key for any woman suffering from the polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Reduce or eliminate gluten if you have inflammatory PCOS
Gluten is not the source of all evil, as many say, so I do not 100% agree with the hype of eliminating it. However, it is proven to be slightly inflammatory and some women react to it more than others. You can try eliminating it for a while (preferably 1-2 months) and see what happens when you introduce it back. Do you get bloated? Lethargic? These are signs you have a slight intolerance to it and are better of without it. If you need more reasons to go gluten-free, check out this article on the PCOS Diva website.
Do not starve yourself
The most important thing though is to not starve yourself. This is a huge temptation for many of those with PCOS who are also overweight or insulin resistant. And sadly, many doctors encourage it more or less willingly but telling them their best option is to lose X amount of pounds. Losing weight might be the answer indeed, but if you do a crash diet, it’s not going to help your hormones. One, you might end up with hypothalamic amenorrhea from starvation. Two, it is not a sustainable diet and you will gain the weight back and then more. Find a balanced diet. You do want to aim for more protein and a healthy amount of fats (please don’t be afraid of fats!!!). Complex carbohydrates are not only ok, but they are recommended. You need them. So does your brain. Vegan diets can be ok, but make sure you are getting all your nutrients in and don’t be afraid to supplement.
Pay attention to your breakfast
I’m sure you’ve heard from at least one source about the importance of breakfast and that you shouldn’t skip it. For us PCOS cysters breakfast is even more important. The key is to keep your blood sugar stable for the rest of the day. Ideally, you want a breakfast that really keeps you full and does not make you want to eat everything at lunch. If you are unsure, test out various options. For instance, some women are lucky and feel completely full without any cravings by having a protein smoothie. Me, I’m not one of them. I love protein smoothies. But I will be HANGRY within the hour. So I only have that if I can also add something else not long after. If I have time for only one breakfast, I prefer scrambled eggs with avocado and gluten-free toast. Experiment and see what keeps you satisfied. If your blood sugar starts to crash mid-morning, you can be sure your diet will not be ideal and you will end up snacking mindlessly.
Interested in more PCOS diet tips?
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