For a health disorder as wildly common as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), it doesn’t get talked about enough. In fact, about 70% of women with this condition remain undiagnosed! To add to this, the information available on this topic is confusing and broad. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were unsure of what it really entails – here we tackle its relation to weight gain, obesity and diet.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome refers to a group of symptoms caused by an imbalance in your hormones. It affects women between the ages of 18-44 and its top symptoms include:
- Missed or irregular periods
- Multiple small ovarian cysts
- Excessive male hormones or androgens
It is also commonly marked by any of these visible signs:
- Weight gain
- Abnormal facial and body hair growth (also called hirsutism)
- Scalp hair loss
- Dark skin patches
How is PCOS Related to Weight Gain?
In PCOS, there is an imbalance of hormones that women experience and the symptoms of PCOS can be a big contributor to the poor mental health of these women. The imbalance and abnormality in the levels of hormones such as testosterone can cause physical symptoms such as excess in hair growth (hirsutism), loss of hair (alopecia), weight gain, and really stubborn acne. These symptoms can make women feel anxious and conscious about herself. The way you look and the way you present yourself to the world is affected and is also a reason for low self-esteem. In such circumstances, women with PCOS feel cornered and lonely, and feel frustrated when they feel that they do not fit into the standards of beauty of the society. There is a constant fight within themselves about accepting their diagnosis and symptoms, and the way they are “supposed to look”. This can affect your self-confidence, your moods and even your relationship with people, leading to an increase in the risk of getting anxiety or depression.
Not only do the physical symptoms bother a woman with PCOS, there is also an anxiety that is linked to her ability to conceive. In a culture where there are a lot of expectations tied to the women and their child bearing capacity, many women with PCOS resort to assistive reproductive technologies to get pregnant. The couples who undergo such treatments often feel emotionally and financially drained which just adds to their mental health negatively. These symptoms and limitations can deeply distress a woman with PCOS and increase the risk of getting anxiety and depression along with a few other problems such as an eating disorder or even compulsive disorders.
Why PCOS Diet is Important in Your Treatment
PCOS diet is a diet that can help balance your hormones, correct insulin resistance and reduce androgen levels. Eating the right diet can regularize periods, lower hirsutism and other PCOS symptoms naturally.
A correct PCOS diet is much more specialised than a generic weight loss diet. PCOS diets incorporate foods that can lower insulin, increase energy levels, and balance hormones. On top of that, every woman’s body reacts differently so it’s important to customize diets for the PCOS and body type.
Many women with PCOS are deficient in certain nutrients such as vitamin D, magnesium, zinc – and you can meet the deficiency gap by having a wholesome and nutritious diet that is not only great for your PCOS but also for your overall health.
What does an ideal PCOS treatment diet look like?
While a balanced diet and exercise aren’t the only treatments for PCOS, they have been proven to significantly improve hormonal imbalance and infertility. Taking small steps towards a better lifestyle, such as yoga, lowering stress, and sleeping on time can make a big difference in weight loss. If you’re newly diagnosed with PCOS and already struggle with a food addiction, you might feel overwhelmed with the idea of dieting. Watching your diet does not mean crazy restrictions, fasting, and tasteless food. Nor does it mean jumping on to the next trending diet on Instagram. Here are some simple guidelines to help you tweak your diet.
Treat PCOS with low glycemic index foods
Studies show that opting for foods with a low glycemic index (less than 55) does wonders for lowering insulin levels and weight. Think whole wheat, fruits and non-starchy leafy greens. Skip the potatoes, white bread and sugary snacks!
PCOS weight loss diet plan with fibre-rich foods
Foods with a high fibre content help in regulating the levels of insulin and leptin (the satiety hormone), which helps you feel full. Choose soluble fibre-rich foods like black beans, kidney beans, flax seeds and fruits.
Protein in PCOS diet chart
Increase your protein intake and make it a point to include it all your meals. Apart from being great for your metabolism and providing an alternative energy source, protein helps regulate blood sugar and also boosts hormones that help you feel full.
PCOS food list with Omega-3 Fatty Acids included
There is such a thing as healthy fats and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are particularly useful in treating inflammation, blood sugar levels and PCOS. We recommend foods like fatty fish, nuts, and seeds or simply supplementing your diet with a fish oil capsule.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Diet Vitamin B12 and D Micronutrients
These two micronutrients have been proven to help with PCOS. Add foods like eggs, fish, tofu, and dairy products to your intake to get these nutrients. If you’re concerned, a blood test can be done to check these vitamin levels.
PCOS diet plan to lose weight with Natural and Organic Food
Eating less processed foods with refined sugars and natural food will help check inflammation and give you better access to nutrients. Switch to whole foods such as fruits and vegetables instead of the refined or processed version.
Portion control is the best way for PCOS weight loss
Instead of completely banning yourself from a food group, mindfully managing portions will lessen your cravings and binge eating. Pro tip: when you feel like grabbing a snack or get cravings, ask yourself if you’re really hungry or are just indulging in emotional eating.
Limit these food items with PCOS problem
With PCOS, it is important to follow a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in nutrients that comes from whole foods. However, there are certain foods to avoid in PCOS that can worsen insulin resistance and other PCOS symptoms. These include refined carbohydrates, processed and packaged foods such as chips, soda, biscuits, fast food items, sugary foods and drinks.
Although it is ok to indulge in your favourite foods occasionally, you should aim to maintain a balance and find healthier alternatives of the foods you love to indulge in. PCOS diet is not restrictive, you should visualise diet as a way to nourish yourself with essential nutrients.
Get expert advice for PCOS weight loss diet and exercise plan
At Veera Health, whether it is nutrition, exercise or medical advice, we give you access to personalised science-backed plans that work for your symptoms and concerns. We help you build healthy sustainable habits across nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress – all at your fingertips.
Our nutritionist and care manager works closely with you to give you a diet plan that is sustainable in the long run and does not feel restrictive or boring to follow!
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