Guide To Eating Healthy With PCOS

Your diet has a huge role to play in managing your PCOS symptoms. In fact, 80% of your treatment, is about your diet. And eating healthy, balanced diet can not only improve your physical symptoms but your mental health as well

Posted on June 15, 2022 ·

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed

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Do you feel confused about what to eat and what not to eat after your PCOS diagnosis? Are you searching for random PCOS weight loss plan to help you cure PCOS?

Women with PCOS experience physical symptoms such as excessive growth of facial and body hair (hirsutism), loss of hair (alopecia), and acne. But it is also true that one of the major symptoms of PCOS is weight gain. And because of this, doctors usually recommend a diet plan that can help you shed some kilos and manage your weight effectively. Although losing weight with PCOS can help improve many symptoms, your focus should be to follow a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable in the long run.

The Relation Between PCOS and Diet

Women with PCOS usually have higher levels of insulin than a woman without PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert sugar into energy. But, in PCOS, women experience insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when the body might make and secrete a lot of insulin, but it is not able to use it like it normally does. So, your insulin levels might appear higher than usual. These high levels of insulin may trigger your ovaries to release hormones abnormally and create an imbalance too. Insulin resistance may need medication and also make it difficult for women with PCOS and a higher body mass index to lose weight. If your diet is full of carbohydrates that are refined, starchy or sugary in nature, it can cause insulin resistance and weight management becomes a tough task to achieve.

To Eat or Not to Eat – That is the Question!

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all PCOS weight loss plan, it is all about maintaining a balance and including foods that are rich in fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This can help with slow release of glucose and help improve insulin resistance.

Women with PCOS can easily consume fibre-rich foods such as:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Capsicum or bell peppers
  • Beans and lentils
  • Almonds
  • Different berries
  • Green leafy vegetables 
  • Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Protein sources should be lean and one can consume eggs, chicken, fish, tofu or paneer to meet your daily protein requirement. Though they do not contain a lot of fibre, they are a valuable and nutritious addition to meals for women with PCOS.

Since women with PCOS experience a lot of inflammation in various aspects of their body, it is good to include anti-inflammatory foods and spices that reduce or relieve this inflammation. Such foods can be, but are not limited to:

  • Spinach
  • Use of olive oil for cooking
  • Fish that are high in fats such as omega-3 fatty acids
  • Tomatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon

Refined carbohydrates and sugary or starchy foods should be strictly avoided or limited by women who have PCOS. Since sugar is a complex carbohydrate, it should be limited in a PCOS diet to reduce insulin resistance. This includes any processed food such as:

  • White bread
  • Desserts that have high amounts of refined sugar
  • Muffins that contain both sugar and starch
  • Fizzy drinks that have a lot of sugar content
  • All types of foods that include white flour as an ingredient.

Noodles or pastas that are made from more fibrous sources can be consumed in limited portions, and any noodle or pasta that has wheat flour or white flour, should be avoided. To understand if a food item contains sugar or any carbohydrates, be sure to check the labels for the list of ingredients on them. Any label that indicates a type of carbohydrate such as – glucose, fructose, dextrose or sucrose, need to be consumed in limited portions only.

When you are on a PCOS diet, it is advised that you avoid drinking beverages such as fizzy sodas or cold drinks and even packaged fruit juice. These food items can increase the levels of sugar in your blood and make it difficult for you to lose weight. Foods such as red or processed meats have known to cause inflammation and people with PCOS should limit their intake. 

Because this is a comprehensive list of food items that need limiting or avoidance, you are advised to consult with your doctor before including or excluding any food item to your PCOS diet. Since every PCOS journey and woman is unique, a doctor will help you understand your own body. This will help you eat and control your PCOS sustainably, without making you feel anxious about your PCOS and weight loss journey.

Finding Balance in PCOS Diet

Instead of searching for a PCOS weight loss plan online, eating a sustainable, nutritious and well-balanced meal can help you reduce weight and maintain it. It also takes care of your physical symptoms and makes you feel less insecure about them. When you are able to manage your weight and take care of your appearance, your self-esteem and confidence rise to make you feel less anxious or depressed about your PCOS journey. 

Cutting down on your favourite dessert or foods may seem unfair or frustrating to you from time to time. It is important to realise that the benefits of a sustainable PCOS diet can help you liven up your mood and cater to your anxiety or depression symptoms. And then, there are always healthier and tastier replacements to your ordinary sugary desserts that are beneficial and fun to consume at the same time! 

It is also important to remember that along with following a PCOS diet, it is good to make some changes in your lifestyle and take up a physical activity that you enjoy! Some activity, a good diet and talking to your doctor or therapist regularly can ensure that you receive holistic treatment for your mental health during your PCOS journey.

So, ladies! The journey of including a sustainable, healthy and yummy diet along with some lifestyle changes is the key to positive mental health, and a healthy counterpart to your favourite dessert – does exist!

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

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