2-20% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. PCOS typically presents as irregular or absent periods, and an overproduction of hormones called androgens, and causes multiple cysts in the ovaries. Around 50 percent of women with this disorder also suffer from obesity, have adult acne that doesn’t respond to most medication, and are at greater risk for heart disease, endometrial cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
What many women do not know, however, is that PCOS can be managed just by making certain changes to your diet and lifestyle. A proper diet is the best medicine for PCOS, and in this case, your grocery store can be your pharmacy! Eating a good assortment of fruits, vegetables, and protein every day will ensure your body gets enough vitamins, minerals and other important components that you need to nourish your cells, balance your hormones and boost your energy.
Let’s look a few lifestyle changes below which can help you control your PCOS and beat it at its own game.
REDUCE YOUR CARB INTAKE
As insulin is the hormone that controls carbohydrate and fat metabolism, a common belief among PCOS women is that they should eliminate carbs entirely from their diet. However, your body does need some carbs for the muscles to burn body fat. Up to 100-140g per day of carbohydrate intake depending on your age and activity can support fat loss. Stick to having 20-30g each during breakfast and lunch, while consuming more protein and vegetables for dinner. It would help to avoid rice and heavy pasta-based meals as much as you can.
SKIP WHITE FLOURS AND SUGAR
If you ask what foods you should avoid if you have PCOS, then it would most definitely be sugary foods like juices, sodas, milk coffees, and smoothies. Also, anything made with refined carbohydrate including white bread, snack foods, and pizza! The number one reason is that these foods send your glucose and insulin levels sky high and so is best avoided.
MORE PROTEIN, PLEASE!
An important component of a PCOS-specific diet is protein-rich foods like lean meat, chicken, fish, and dairy. Especially fish such as salmon and tuna are a great source of anti-inflammatory and healthy Omega-3 Fatty acids DHA and EPA. Ensure you try and eat only wild-caught fish to reduce the risk of consuming parasites and pesticides. An egg on wholegrain toast or cheese and wholegrain crackers can do well as a snack.
RAINBOWS ON YOUR PLATE
Vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, fiber and bioactive phytocompounds that maintain glucose regulation, reduce meta-inflammation and oxidative stress, thereby lowering risk of cardiovascular diseases. A good guideline to follow is to try and add more colour to your plate. From greens like broccoli, spinach, and fenugreek, to orange pumpkins and carrot, yellow bell peppers, red tomatoes and beetroot, and purple cabbages and eggplant.
EAT GOOD FATS
Reducing carbs means increasing the amount of fat you eat to ensure you stay energised. But hold on, only slightly, and only the fats considered the right type. You need to get the right mix of fats that help your cells become more sensitive to insulin. A healthy PCOS diet should have 3-4 servings of fat each day. This can be in the form of olive oil, ghee, nuts & seeds, and fresh fish at least 3-4 times a week.
EAT ON TIME
Most importantly, managing PCOS absolutely demands that you stick to your regular meal times. Any disruption (eating too often or eating less) can cause weight gain or an inability to lose weight. Therefore, women having PCOS should ideally leave at least 2-3 hours between eating times.
AVOCADOS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Avocados are usually overlooked due to their high concentration of saturated fats, but ladies, this fruit is a nutritional superfood, packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids that regulate endocrine and immune system function and make your skin glow! Adding an avocado a day to an already well-balanced diet can do wonders to control PCOS.
PCOS, like many other disorders, responds well to proactive lifestyle choices like regular exercise and daily physical activity. So make sure you always get that bit in along with the right diet. Experts say that 150 minutes per week of exercise is ideal. Go for a walk, do some yoga, hit the gym, join a dance class… pick something you enjoy so that it’s easier to stick to.
PCOS can be the most frustrating thing on the planet but taking these proactive steps to control it can not only reduce the symptoms, but also improve your mood. If you need personalised help fixing your diet, our team of expert nutritionists can help. Simply download the Grow Fit app to chat directly with your personal nutritionist, and get advice on foods that can help you manage and even reverse your PCOS.
We also have a collection of foods designed to help you manage your PCOS. Browse the collection here.
Stay Healthy. Grow Fit. 🙂