Are you 1 of the 10 million women managing PCOS? Yes, you heard that right! An estimated 10 million women have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and about half of these women are unaware that they have the condition. Therefore, PCOS nutrition habits just aren’t paid attention to. PCOS, a hormonal disorder, varies but common symptoms include:
- amenorrhea (missed periods)
- hirsutism (hair growth, particularly in the face, inner thighs, and belly)
- excess weight
- acanthosis nigricans (dark, discolored patches on the skin)
- alopecia (hair loss from the head)
These symptoms are not all-inclusive. Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, putting these women at risk for diabetes, at no fault of their own. If you are dealing with PCOS, you may be wondering if there is a specific diet or nutrition plan that might help.
PCOS Nutrition Recommendations
If you have PCOS, know that you can improve symptoms, especially insulin resistance, with a few changes in your eating patterns. Let’s talk about PCOS nutrition tips & habits that you can start to adopt today so that you can manage your symptoms better.
1. Choose protein at every meal & snack
Including a source of protein at meal/snack time helps keep blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the entire day. Protein is also helpful in keeping your cravings down. Try using lean sources of protein, like legumes, nuts, fish, or poultry.
2. Choose color at every meal & snack
Eat a variety of colors throughout the day. That includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. Each color comes with unique nutrients and antioxidants to help your body function at its best. Aim for at least five different fruits/veggies per day!
3. Choose whole grains
Boost your intake of whole grains, which contain fiber. Fiber keeps our blood sugar levels more stabilized. Whole grains have a lot of essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Swap out your refined grains and simple sugars for whole grains, and don’t forget to pair them with protein or fat. If you are trying to keep your weight at bay, try portions the size of your fist or about a quarter of your meal.
4. Choose whole fruits instead of juices
Juicing takes out a lot of fiber. We want fiber so that our blood sugars can remain stable. Try incorporating whole fruits with many different colors. Fruits with seeds, skins, and roughage will do better for both your digestion and your blood health. Again, pair that fruit with a protein, like nut butter or cheese.
5. Choose nutrient-rich fats, such as Omega-3’s
Omega-3’s are a super nutrient that can benefit PCOS in many ways. If you also experience mental health struggles, omega-3’s can help to improve mood. There is also evidence that omega-3 fats can improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol health, inflammation, and skin health. Try incorporating fish two times per week. If you’re not into fish, consult with a registered dietitian to help you find a pure & recommended supplement.
6. Consider supplementation
A lot of the time, we like to preach a “food first” mentality. For PCOS nutrition, we do recommend working on your food & lifestyle before jumping into expensive supplements. However, we do see a need for additional medications or supplements for many of our PCOS clients. These may help to improve insulin sensitivity, fertility, cholesterol, hormone regulation, and more. Some beneficial supplements/medications may include fish oil, Myo-inositol, metformin, berberine, the list could go on. We HIGHLY recommend not seeking these out on your own, as supplement companies are not regulated. Your dietitian will know where to find the best brands & purest forms. Seek out the direction of your nutrition professional.
Putting it all together
Now, let’s put it all together. Our meal plan service is super helpful when it comes to PCOS nutrition tips. We can set it up according to your individual needs, digestive issues, and preferences. If you’re interested to know what a “day in the life” might look like, meet with a dietitian who can get to know your current lifestyle and create a PCOS nutrition plan for you, so you don’t have to be on this journey alone!