What Foods Should You Avoid if You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Although there is no food item that is completely off limits with PCOS — there are certain foods that are better to be avoided or to be limited in your diet. There is a place in your diet to have your ‘favourite’ foods but they should not make the bulk of your diet. These foods include:
- Processed food
- Fast food
- Fried food
- Red meat
- Sugary food like cakes, pastries, doughnuts
- Sugary drinks like soda, canned juices
Why Nutrition Matters
The statement that food is medicine is no longer a theory or a faint idea. The vitamins and minerals that you get from whole, fresh foods are important for a multitude of body processes and functions that are involved in gut health, immunity, metabolism, among others. In PCOS specifically, your diet plays a very important role in treating the underlying hormonal imbalance. Many women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance which is responsible for a number of symptoms like weight gain, cravings, fatigue and can also increase the production of androgen (male hormone) levels.
Having a balanced diet in every meal, which means having complex carbs, protein, healthy fats and fibre can help manage the hormonal imbalance and hence the symptoms. 80% of PCOS treatment is about a diet that can balance hormones, correct insulin insensitivity, and reduce androgen levels. Eating the right diet can regularize periods, lower hirsutism and other PCOS symptoms naturally.
The reason why many people eat processed or packaged food is because it is accessible and easy to make. But we want you to see diet as a way to nourish yourself and provide your body with all the nutrients required to keep you healthy.
Approved Foods List
PCOS diet is all about opting for whole and fresh foods instead of processed or packaged food. The idea is to pack as many nutrients from healthy sources in each meal and have a balance of all nutrients. Depending on your dietary preferences and lifestyle, a nutritionist can help you with a
- Fruits like apple, pear, orange, banana, berries, etc
- Vegetables like green leafy veggies, cabbage, carrots, onion, etc
- Complex carbs like steel cut oats, ragi, jowar, bajra, quinoa, whole wheat flour
- Protein sources like paneer, tofu, soyabeans, egg, chicken
- Healthy fats like nuts and seeds, olive oil, fatty fish
- Dairy sources like yoghurt, milk, (if you’re not allergic/intolerant)
Does a PCOS diet help you lose weight?
PCOS diet consists of ample sources of carbs, protein, fats and fibre from whole and fresh food sources. When you combine a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise, stress management and good sleep routine, it can help manage the underlying hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance, especially in the levels of insulin is the main reason why it can be difficult to lose weight with PCOS. But when you treat hormonal imbalance and continue following a healthy lifestyle, you will be able to lose weight in a sustainable and a safe manner.
How do your eating habits impact your symptoms?
Not eating a balanced diet, having meals at irregular intervals, binge eating and not practicing portion control can worsen symptoms of PCOS. If you are looking to manage PCOS in the long run, developing healthy eating habits is key to making sustainable changes.
Should I follow a meal plan?
PCOS treatment needs to personalised to your symptoms and concerns. And this holds true for your diet as well. You need to follow a structured, personalised diet according to your ideal calorie intake, lifestyle, activity levels, any nutritional deficiencies and your symptoms. Generic diet plans never work that often focus on only reducing calorie intake or following fad diets. Your nutritionist can work with you to understand your eating habits, dietary preferences or triggers and accordingly customise a plan that can be easy to follow and be sustainable.
Where should I go to get help?
If you are looking to get personalised nutrition tips and guidance that will help you improve your PCOS, join Veera’s PCOS program where our nutritionists work closely with you to develop a plan that will fit your life. At Veera, we don’t believe in crash or fad diets — we want you to develop a healthy relationship with food, visualise diet as a way to nourish yourself and develop sustainable habits that can help manage PCOS in the long run!