I have a love hate relationship with food for many reasons. If I dived really deep into my extremely confusing and complex psyche I’m sure that I would be able to pinpoint the moment that food started to become my enemy. When I was younger food was my way to control my weight (still is), and now in my mind food is what comes in the way of leading a normal life with PCOS.
I’ve written many a time about the ins and outs of PCOS in my life. If you don’t believe me… or haven’t seen them well let me help guide you to the highlights (PCOS Posts). As I enter my eighth year with PCOS I have no definite answers for you, I also have no answers for my self. As soon as I think that I’ve gotten POCS figured out, the rug gets pulled out from under me. I haven’t had a period since January 2018.
So three months later, as I come here to write this post about what to eat when you have PCOS, I want you to always remember to speak to your doctor first and foremost. Besides that, what works for one person or a group of people may not always work best for you. PCOS affects people differently so don’t feel bad if you make or follow these dietary guidelines and don’t see the results you want. It’s an ongoing never ending process and I’m here to help as best as I can.
PCOS Diet 101: What To Eat When You Have PCOS
This is one of the hardest changes for me. Eating a low glycemic diet takes some work because you have to pay attention to detail. That means just because you are eating things that don’t have “sugar” doesn’t mean it is always low glycemic. For example refined carbs will cause a spike in insulin, which will lead to all of the negative symptoms of PCOS we have grown to know and hate. Besides refined carbs, your fruit and vegetable choices matter. Berries and melons are always the safer choice when it comes to maintaining a low glycemic diet.
I love grapes, bananas, and pineapples. All three of these fruits are very high in sugar and can cause spikes in insulin as well. That is why you want to be careful with the green smoothies that are heavy on the sugary fruits (carrots, and beets can also cause spikes in insulin)
Besides berries what can you eat then that won’t cause a spike? Whole grain and unprocessed foods are going to be your best friends. Nuts, Seeds, lean meats, and healthy oils are also other options you should be rotating into your diet.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods:
Foods that cause inflammation can also be the culprit behind weight gain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I never loved eating vegetables. As I grew older I incorporated them as much as possible, not because I learned to love them, but because I had to. Dark leafy greens (think spinach and kale) should be a part of every meal,. Berries, beans, and lentils are also staples in my weekly meal planning, and aid with inflammation in the body. (I love me a good lentil soup).
What you want to avoid the most is dairy. This has been difficult for me to say the least (even as a full time vegan) because I love pizza and ice cream. Though I have had some awesome vegan ice cream and pizza, the convenience of running to my local pizzeria, or Baskin Robbins is undeniable. However since I know I want to do better for myself, I’m making a conscious effort to avoid dairy as much as possible. The key to doing this is reading the labels. Dairy has a way of sneaking its way into our lives without us even realizing. So make sure when you read the labels you look out for other types of dairy besides just the presence of milk and cheese.
I went vegan a few times to help with my PCOS, but you don’t have to give up meat necessarily in order to get your PCOS under control. I don’t eat fish, but fish is definitely a healthy lean protein (think salmon) to add to your arsenal. Lean chicken breasts, nuts, beans, quinoa, and chia seeds are other alternatives that are a great source of healthy protein.
Say No To Gluten & Soy:
Though I don’t have an issue with gluten for the most part, I do have issues with soy (remember one thing may affect one person and not the other). So I haven’t gone gluten free (though I do appreciate when I see it marked on the items I purchase), but I do avoid soy as much as possible. As a vegan it can be extremely difficult to do so, but again with a little bit of practice when reading labels, you’ll be able to spy soy and all its counterparts rather quickly.
Why are you avoiding soy? Besides really messing with your hormones, it can also essentially delay ovulation which leads to a lack of menstruation. As someone who battles the most with having a regular cycle, soy is a hard no for me and is completely off the table. Gluten can act as an inflammatory food, which is why I enjoy not having it, but the struggle to avoid it completely is rather difficult. Besides that (same thing with vegan foods) you want to be sure you’re getting the right gluten free foods, and not the ones that are heavily refined and contain tons of sugar. This will in turn cause an insulin spike and we’ll be back at square one.
Making these changes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see changes in your PCOS journey right away. It takes time, and everyone’s body responds to changes in diet differently. Stick to whatever you find works best for you mentally and physically because both are important attributes to tackling PCOS in a healthy manner. Good luck on your PCOS journey and as always feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below.
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Hey there! I’m Melissa, co-founder of Trials n Tresses, natural hair and beauty lover, binge tv watcher and lover of life. When I am not creating content for TNT, I’m busy teaching the future of society.