If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and worry about your weight, you may be interested in learning some PCOS diet strategies.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive hormone disease among premenopausal women. Women with PCOS often struggle with the following three symptoms:
- Obesity and trouble losing weight
- Excessive hair growth and skin problems (acne)
- Infertility and/or irregular periods
If you have PCOS and are trying to lose weight, we offer you the following helpful PCOS diet tips.
PCOS Diet Tip 1: Stop deprivation dieting.
What does the word “diet” mean to you? The real definition of “diet” means nourishment or nutrition. This implies health and wellness—not starvation. Yet so many popular diets today are associated with pain and distress. On the contrary, healthy eating can and should be enjoyable.
Visit your local health food store for ideas on how to incorporate delicious natural foods like lentils, vegetables, and local, organic ingredients into your daily meals. Many health food stores offer delis and take-home fresh food items that can make your PCOS diet food preparations easier.
PCOS Diet Tip 2: Control your blood sugar.
Weight gain with PCOS can be linked to abnormalities in insulin and glucose metabolism. Insulin’s main job is to control your blood sugar. But insulin also signals your body to store fat. High levels of insulin increase the production of androgens, which can worsen PCOS symptoms.
With insulin resistance (IR), your blood sugar levels rise in spite of high levels of insulin. Eventually type 2 diabetes may result. Yet positive changes in diet and exercise may postpone the development of diabetes. A PCOS diet reducing the amount of sugary carbs that you eat may offer the weight-loss benefits you seek.
To make these healthy PCOS diet changes, cut out white breads, pasta, potatoes, cereals, and some fruits and snack foods. Replace those items with healthy PCOS diet options like the following:
- Nutrient dense, high-fiber carbs
- Foods high in protein (lean meats, legumes)
- Foods containing healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, fish)
Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian for a list of foods to try and a list of foods to avoid. And try to eat mini-meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels even.
PCOS Diet TIP 3: Exercise daily.
OK, we know that exercise is not a diet tip, but if you are looking to burn calories, you must exercise every day! Check in with your doctor first, and once you have the go-ahead, get moving. Exercise is a perfect accompaniment to a PCOS diet, especially for women with PCOS and insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise is wonderful and necessary for all of us, and here are some reasons why.
- Regulates blood glucose levels
- Offers a mood boost
- Increases endorphins (the body’s natural opioids)
- Gets us in top physical shape for pregnancy
- Increases weight loss
Also, being physically fit may help you carry a healthy baby to term and have an uncomplicated delivery.
PCOS Diet Tip 4: Evaluate your relationship with food.
If you live to eat and want to be successful with a PCOS diet…you must rethink your relationship with food. Some women use food as a reward for an accomplishment or for emotional solace when they feel lonely or blue. Other women live for the next meal at their favorite restaurant or use food as a way to bring family and friends together.
To lose weight on a PCOS diet, reframe your thinking to eating to live, not living to eat. Choose foods that are filling and nutrient dense. Instead of party food, junk food, or comfort food that only adds more fat and pounds, eat food that will nourish your body. Having said that, it is perfectly fine to enjoy delicious, rich foods on occasion, but only in moderation! And certainly not every day. If you have an unhealthy relationship with food, like binge eating, purging, or starving yourself, help is available.
PCOS Diet TIP 5: Ask about metformin.
Metformin (Glucophage) is a drug that was developed for type 2 diabetes and is often prescribed “off label” for obesity and PCOS. Metformin may help women seeking a PCOS diet by offering the following benefits:
- Helping with weight loss
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving cholesterol levels
- Decreasing levels of androgens
- Restoring normal periods
- Improving sensitivity to fertility drugs
Remember, no one is to blame for PCOS. It is in your hands to work with your doctor to find PCOS diet solutions and to learn how to live healthily with this common hormonal problem.
- ScienceDaily: New Project To Analyze Why Polycystic Ovary Syndrome And Insulin Resistance Are So Closely Linked.
- Health and Human Services: Eating Right with PCOS.
- American Diabetes Association: Living with Diabetes: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
- Thatcher, S. PCOS: The Hidden Epidemic.