I was diagnosed with PCOS nine years ago, and I have been an on and off again vegan for the last 18 months. Initially neither of the two had anything to really do with one another. When I was diagnosed with PCOS I didn’t even understand or know what it was. All I knew was I didn’t get periods regularly, and I would just have to watch my weight (which I was never really good at to be honest).
Then when I did more research and learned what having PCOS really meant I went into panic mode. I decided to go Vegan for Lent in 2016, and enjoyed the experience. So much so that I decided to stay a vegan even after Lent ended, because I thought it would help me balance out my PCOS symptoms. That was until I got to summertime barbecues and vacations. When summer ended, I went back onto my vegan path only to be derailed a few times as I started at a new job and couldn’t say no to the staff lunches that always included pizza.
Then Lent 2017 rolled around and even then I wasn’t being vegan to my full potential as I was in the year prior. And since then I have been off the bandwagon for the most part though I still make several vegan choices while food shopping and preparing my meals for the week.
Being A Vegan With PCOS
But what am I saying all of this for and what does this have to do with PCOS? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a tricky bitch. Just when I think I’ve got her figured out she sends me for a loop. Many people believe that when you go into a specific dietary restriction that your PCOS automatically goes under control. So going vegan, vegetarian, or even Whole 30 and Paleo has been rumored to solve the issues that are often associated with having PCOS. I’m here to tell you that is FALSE. They may be helpful and land results in some, but it is not guaranteed.
Though I’ve never tried Whole 30 or followed a strict Paleo diet, I will tell you this, there is no one trick pony to PCOS. Everybody’s body is different and handles the hormonal balances differently. I’ve gone full time strict vegan, and have been a full-time dairy consuming carnivore and have had similar results on both spectrums. There have been times when I was vegan that I did menstruate regularly, and other times where I would not. Just this past summer I didn’t experience a regular period cycle until I was away on vacation eating the very worst that I’ve eaten all year.
Being a Vegan did have many positive aspects on my life, and I really do enjoy being a vegan when I’m fully dedicated to it. However being a vegan can lead to a high sugar consumption which is detrimental for women with PCOS. Low glycemic foods are best for women with PCOS and that is a switch that I have yet to make effectively. When I went sugar free in 2015 I lost a ton of weight, but still didn’t have a proper balanced diet. Why? Because I wasn’t eating enough lean protein.
I’ve been taking the same morning supplements for about 2 years now, and for the most part they are helpful in providing energy and supplementing for foods I don’t eat (like Omega 3 since I don’t eat seafood). But the breakthrough I had in 2016 didn’t seem to carry over in 2017 and I’m sure much of that has to do with my diet. I increased my exercise (4-5 times a week both cardio and weights) but still have way too much sugar and dairy in my diet. I am doing a much better job at watching my weight and doing so in a healthy manner (no more magic teas or laxatives). I get so frustrated and disappointed in myself because I know better. But, when ever I don’t see immediate results, I end up going right back to my bad habits. I know better, and I know PCOS is very fickle.
My brother is now experimenting with veganism and at month two he is truly enjoying it. I’ve decided to go back to full time veganism at least for the remainder of the year. I am really going to focus on adding in more variety to my diet (salads and lentil soup can get pretty boring after a while) and lowering my sugar intake. I want (just like every other woman with PCOS) for my body to just do what it is supposed to do. Winter is really a perfect time to be start out on a vegan transition if you’ve been thinking about trying it out, because there are no cookouts or frequent brunch dates to avoid.
Happy National PCOS Awareness month! I hope that this pot has helped clear up some of the confusion and let you know that you are definitely not alone in this fight and to never believe anyone who seems to have it all together or a one stop answer! We’re all in this together just struggling to figure out what works best for our bodies!