It is officially PCOS awareness month! One year ago, during PCOS Awareness Month I launched “eating with PCOS” to make inspiring and motivating easier.
(2016: Pre-PCOS diagnosis VS 2020: Managing my PCOS)
What to use and what to avoid?
I would like to start by busting some myths, you DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE UP GLUTEN AND DAIRY. Apologies for the shouting but they are popular PCOS dietitians who claim this is the only way. NO, IT’S NOT!
The biggest part of determining what you should not consume or what to avoid as much as possible depending on your individual symptoms, PCOS looks different on every individual woman.
Gluten: Last October, I set out on a quest to be gluten-free because that seemed very popular amongst some PCOS influencers. I did it for a few months, no change in my mood, I still remained the same weight. Quick backstory, before this I had already been 50lbs lighter for over a year, and just wanted to lose 5 lbs because I still gain easily, especially when I’m stressed. Long story short, I still felt bloated, fatigued, etc so I am back to consuming gluten occasionally, and in small quantities, as I try to ensure my daily Carbohydrate intake does not excess 100g
Dairy: Have severe acne? AVOID Everyone else has in moderation, once it can fit into your lifestyle model, once you aren’t inflamed, once you don’t exceed your macros for the day then ENJOY YOUR CHEESE!
(olive oil cake containing dairy and gluten, it is about what you do most times not sometimes)
You should certainly avoid sugars (including intrinsic sugar), everyone should. Start plating with vegetables first, think about making a colourful plate. Sugar will lead to an increase in glucose level, meaning insulin levels will be lower which can help lower androgen levels. This does not mean you cannot have fruit, you can, you should, fruits have important vitamins and nutrients your body needs, just make sure it fits into you lifestyle, do not exceed your daily carb allowance.
Deep-fried and Highly processed foods: Are these really good for anyone’s wellbeing? Now with PCOS, the added challenge of having a chronic illness, these foods cause inflammation, and who needs that. The fatigue struggle is real! Caffeine: Coffee makes you crave carbs, and if one of your PCOS symptoms is anxiety, well it makes your day worse, so in that case, it should be avoided. Try teas with caffeine as a daily alternative to coffee, but nothing is wrong to coffee from time to time.
NOTHING SHOULD BE CONSUMED IN EXCESS. TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU. BE CAUTIOUS OF WHAT YOU CONSUME. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PUTTING IN YOUR BODY. EAT REAL FOOD.
Before eating, ask yourself what are you really hungry for? As Deepak Chopra stated in his popular book stated: “A mind-body approach is needed, mind and body must be connected.” He further explains why we may think we’re hungry sometimes:
Lower brain- satisfied when you feel good, physically.
Limbic system- satisfied when you feel good emotionally.
Higher brain- satisfied when you are making good decisions for yourself.
These three regions must act together, “the brain is structured to find happiness at every level… our brains have a pleasure center for food, emotions can override hunger or make it unnaturally strong”. Now, with PCOS because of the hormonal imbalances, because of the myriad of symptoms, it makes this even harder for us to truly become aware because of the added noises. It does not mean it is impossible to be a healthy weight, it just means we need to be more patient, be kind to yourself, truly connect with yourself.
Supplements? I use S’moo it is the easiest, add it to your morning smoothie/ tea/ coffee/ bowl or just to have with water. It contains essential supplements for life with PCOS.
SOME important supplements:
- Vitamin C ( this is extremely important for EVERYONE not just women with PCOS)
Reduces menstrual cramps⠀
Helps balance hormones⠀
Improves insulin resistance⠀
Fights fatigue & stress⠀
Regulates blood sugar levels⠀
Helps balance testosterone for high and low levels
- Vitamin D3
Improves menstrual regularity
Improves fertility & healthy egg maturation
Helps increase energy & improve mood
Reduces androgen levels
Regulates Menstrual Cycles
Promotes Egg Quality + Fertility
Improves Insulin Levels
Helps Support Healthy Energy Levels
- Omega 3
The number on the scale does not give you the full picture. Before looking at the scale, consider the following:
How are your energy levels?
What’s your mood like?
How are you sleeping?
How do you feel in your clothes?
What is your body fat?
What is your visceral fat?
How do you feel before, during, and after your workouts?
Exercise and PCOS: BE ACTIVE. Do what challenges you. Do what you can. Doing high-intensity workouts are not bad for you, HIIT, Bootcamp, circuit training are all great for fat-blasting. Do you overstress yourself out at the gym, 30 min strength training session 3-4 times a week, with yoga/pilates 2-3 times a week while ensuring you walk a daily will definitely make an impact in taking control of your symptoms.
Living with and managing a chronic illness, is all about management, eating with PCOS does not have to be stressful. The faster we move away from diet culture, the faster we move away from anyone who says just eat less and get on birth control to finding your optimal lifestyle, a holistic approach that will work for your specific body, that is how you will happily live your life and manage your PCOS.
Reach out for guidance! Be patient! Be kind to yourself!