PCOS should never be taken lightly. There are so many different levels to having PCOS and no one is quite the same. I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2020 and the road hasn’t been easy. Dealing with PCOS is hard enough as is, knowing what to eat and what not to eat, that’s a whole different story. While there is no cure for PCOS, symptoms can be managed through a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a good PCOS diet. In fact, a healthy diet plan is one of the most effective ways to regulate the symptoms of PCOS.
By eating healthy, I was able to regulate my hormones and settle a lot of the symptoms I’ve been having. I do have to note that my PCOS is on the mild side as I know there are women who have severe symptoms.
What is PCOS?
Honestly, there is no easy answer to this because PCOS can be so unpredictable. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder among women. The condition creates hormonal imbalances, leading to a range of physical and emotional symptoms. PCOS is characterized by the presence of cysts on the ovaries, but its effects extend far beyond these small, fluid-filled sacs.
PCOS symptoms to look out for:
- Irregular menstrual cycles or absence of menstruation.
- Excess facial or body hair (hirsutism).
- Acne or oily skin.
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Hair thinning or baldness, often on the scalp.
- Darkening of the skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts.
- Skin tags in armpits or neck area.
- Pelvic pain.
- Difficulty conceiving or infertility.
- Mood swings or depression.
- Sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances.
- High levels of insulin or insulin resistance.
- Elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body.
The best PCOS diet you can follow.
It’s important to note that everyone is different and symptoms might differ from person to person. You need to find what works best with you and take it from there. No matter your reasons or health concerns, following a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do.
Choose a low glycemic index diet.
Following a low glycemic index diet is one of the best PCOS diet options you can follow. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables help regulate blood sugar levels. These foods have a lower glycemic index, preventing spikes in insulin and reducing the risk of insulin resistance, a common issue in PCOS.
Low glycemic foods:
- Non-starchy vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cucumber.
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans.
- Whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, barley, bulgur, oats.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds.
- Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.
- Citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes.
- Apples and pears.
- Greek yogurt (unsweetened).
- Lean protein: chicken, turkey, fish, tofu.
Add more fiber to your diet.
Adding more fiber to your diet is a simple way to manage PCOS effectively. Fiber-rich foods help in regulating blood sugar levels, promoting weight management, and supporting hormonal balance, all of which are essential for women with PCOS. Not only does fiber rich foods help with managing your PCOS symptoms, they have so many other benefits for your body. I choose to focus on a gluten free, whole food diet to support my system and keep me healthy. Sure I still enjoy “unhealthy” foods every now and then, but balance is key.
Fiber rich foods to try:
- Whole grains (oatmeal, barley, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta)
- Fruits (apples, oranges, berries, avocado)
- Vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes)
- Nuts and seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, cashews)
- Dried fruits (prunes, figs, dates)
- Bran cereal (oat bran, wheat bran)
- Dark chocolate
RELATED: The Best Natural Progesterone Foods.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
There is nothing you can tell me about inflammation, especially in the bowel and it’s horrible! Chronic inflammation is believed to play a major role in the development and progression of PCOS, contributing to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. By adding anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate PCOS symptoms. These foods not only provide essential nutrients but also has great antioxidant properties combat oxidative stress and support hormonal regulation. I have found that filling up on smoothies as a snack is a great way for me to get in all my anti-inflammatory foods. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Anti-inflammatory foods to try:
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
- Dark chocolate (in moderation)
- Green tea
Limit your intake on processed foods.
This would have to be one of the most important things to do when you take on any healthy diet changes. Processed foods often contain high levels of refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives, which can exacerbate insulin resistance, promote weight gain, and disrupt hormonal balance—all common concerns when you have PCOS. These foods typically lack essential nutrients and fiber, offering little to no nutritional value. By reducing your intake of processed snacks, sugary beverages, fast food, and packaged meals, you can better regulate blood sugar levels, support weight management, and improve overall health outcomes.
Try focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats to nourish your body and alleviate PCOS symptoms.
Drink plenty of water.
Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and avoiding dehydration, which can cause cravings and fatigue. It is recommended to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. It might not always be easy, but one thing I do to help is to only drink water throughout the day. I don’t drink anything else unless it’s a special occasion.
RELATED:| The Best Ways To Hydrate Quickly.
What foods to avoid when following PCOS diet:
When it comes to diet, it is vital to avoid foods that contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates should be avoided, like processed foods, sugary drinks, and white bread. It is necessary to steer clear of saturated and trans fats too, which are present in fast foods, fried foods, and pastries. Red meat and dairy products that are high in fat should also be limited. Overall, it is essential to choose complex carbohydrates, protein-rich foods, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, to help manage PCOS symptoms.
The affect PCOS has on fertility:
PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, can significalty affect fertility. That is because it disrupts the hormonal balance in the body, affecting ovulation and menstruation. In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce excessive levels of androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone. That can cause the development of cysts on the ovaries, which can lead to irregular menstrual cycles or even cause the menstrual cycle to stop altogether.
Additionally, women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance, which can make it more difficult to conceive. If left untreated, PCOS can make it considerably harder for women to get pregnant and may require specific medical interventions to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Here is an article for foods that help implantation.
Can you overcome the challenges of PCOS?
Yes, a healthy PCOS diet plan is an essential factor in managing the symptoms. Eating nutritious, wholesome foods and avoiding processed or artificial foods is the best way to keep your body healthy and help tackle PCOS symptoms. Changing a few things in your lifestyle can improve your quality of life and better manage your symptoms.
Finding the best PCOS diet requires a combination of trial and error, as well as consulting with healthcare professionals to determine the right approach for your individual needs. A balanced and nutritious diet comprised of whole, unprocessed foods, lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich vegetables is likely to be beneficial for most individuals with PCOS.
Adding regular exercise, managing stress, and getting enough sleep can also play a significant role in managing PCOS symptoms and improving your health.
Your Wellness Warrior!