Diet recommendations for women with PCOS are more or less similar to those recommended for the general population or those suffering from Diabetes, Obesity and Elevated Cholesterol. There is no ‘Best PCOS Diet’. It is about good food choices and building healthy eating patterns. Take one step at a time. You need to have frequent small meals or snacks and try not to overeat. A well-controlled appetite means insulin and glucose levels in the blood are balanced.
Women with PCOS also suffer from Insulin resistance.
Women with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in your pancreas. It helps the cells in your body turn sugar (glucose) into energy. Insulin resistance is a condition in which one is unable to use the insulin effectively. The body then tries to pump out more insulin to keep blood sugars normal. This in turn causes the ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone. Insulin resistance also makes it difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to control.
What foods should I add to my diet?
Foods To Add
- High-fiber vegetables, such as broccoli.
- Lean protein, such as fish.
- Anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric and tomatoes.
High-fiber foods can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the blood. This may be beneficial to women with PCOS. Great options for high-fiber foods include:
- cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower,
- green and red peppers
- beans and lentils
- sweet potatoes
Lean protein sources like chicken, and fish don’t provide fiber but are very filling and a healthy dietary option for women with PCOS.
Foods that help reduce inflammation may also be beneficial. They include:
- almonds and walnuts
- olive oil
- fruits, such as blueberries and strawberries
- fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines
FOODS TO AVOID
Which foods should I limit or avoid?
- Foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins.
- Sugary snacks and drinks.
- Inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats.
Refined carbohydrates cause inflammation, exacerbate insulin resistance, and should be avoided. These include highly processed foods, such as:
- white bread
- breakfast pastries
- sugary desserts
- white potatoes
- anything made with white flour
Pasta noodles that list semolina, durum flour, or durum wheat flour as their first ingredient are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. These should be removed from the diet. Pastas made from bean or lentil flour instead of wheat flour are an excellent alternative.
Sugar is a carbohydrate and should be avoided wherever possible. When reading food labels, be sure to look for sugar’s various names. These include sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose. Sugar can also lurk in the things you drink, such as soda and juice.
It’s a good idea to reduce or remove inflammation-causing foods, such as french fries, margarine, and red or processed meats from your diet as well.
If you are coping with PCOS or any of its symptoms, you may feel frustrated at times. Taking proactive steps regarding your health can improve your mood as well as reduce your symptoms. One of the best ways to do this is to create a good food/bad food list and stick to it.
Just about every food that may aggravate your condition has a healthier, beneficial counterpart. For example, if you’re used to margarine and white toast for breakfast, try substituting high-fiber whole grain bread and olive oil or avocado.
If your symptoms persist, speak with your doctor and nutritionist. They can work with you to identify the cause and recommend next steps.