What to Look For In A PCOS Meal Plan
Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are bombarded with information daily on diets for PCOS, which foods are the best for PCOS, and even shown many examples of meal plans for PCOS. Despite the endless free information available online, many women with PCOS remain confused because of how conflicting most answers are!
This blog will help you review PCOS diet tips and gives pointers on what a PCOS meal plan should include.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal and reproductive condition that involves multiple organs as well as a part of the brain such as the pineal gland or hypothalamus, parts of your metabolism, and hormones. PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome has been called “one of the leading causes of female infertility".
It's estimated that at least 10% of women have PCOS with up to 70% remaining undiagnosed.
What Are The Symptoms of PCOS?
The symptoms of PCOS can be both disruptive and uncomfortable; many women feel they don't belong to their bodies. PCOS is a complex hormonal syndrome that can lead to many symptoms, including irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, and difficulty losing weight.
Other Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms
Other PCOS symptoms may include hair loss, fatigue, acne, excess hair growth, and mood changes. It can also make it harder for people to get pregnant and can negatively affect their mental health if left untreated.
Many women with PCOS feel they don't belong to their bodies. Women with PCOS can also feel incredibly isolated as many of their friends or family may be unaware of the condition and how it affects women's bodies.
What Are The Different Types of PCOS?
There are four different types of PCOS:
Phenotype A or Classic PCOS
Phenotype B or the Other Classic PCOS
Phenotype C or Ovulatory PCOS
Phenotype D or Nonhyperandrogenic PCOS
The severity of the types decreases as you descend from phenotype A to D with the highest severity for phenotype A and the lowest severity for phenotype D. Read more about the different types of PCOS and how to treat PCOS in our previous blog.
What Causes PCOS?
The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not known.
There appears to be a genetic link but to make matters more complicated, there is no 1 gene that is linked to PCOS but rather multiple gene combinations meaning that polycystic ovarian syndrome is considered a "poly-genetic" syndrome.
Women with PCOS may have a female family member with polycystic ovary syndrome or a male family member with early hair loss or balding.
Women with PCOS may also have family members with diabetes.
PCOS symptoms are driven by insulin resistance, high levels of androgen hormones, and chronic inflammation.
PCOS is not caused by weight gain or a diet that is higher in sugar or highly processed foods!!! You did not cause your PCOS.
Can You Beat PCOS Using Food As Medicine?
You cannot cure or beat PCOS; however, you can learn how to manage polycystic ovarian syndrome! Even weight loss or menopause cannot cure PCOS.
How Diet Can Impact PCOS Symptoms
While a healthy diet can effectively reduce PCOS symptoms, a lifestyle change is also important to manage polycystic ovary syndrome.
Women with PCOS can manage their polycystic ovary syndrome by lowering stress, making sustainable nutrition changes, balancing blood sugar, and adding safe supplements for PCOS.
You do not have to pursue weight loss to improve insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance.
What Is A PCOS Diet?
The PCOS diet tips are not only about calories and weight loss. It is also about reducing insulin resistance and blood sugar levels which will help with weight loss, as well as regulating periods.
A good PCOS diet plan or PCOS meal plan should focus on controlling your blood sugar levels, improving insulin resistance, improving inflammation, and supporting balanced hormones.
Frequently Asked PCOS Diet Questions
What are the best beverages for PCOS?
There are no "best beverages" for PCOS; however, special consideration should be given to how much or how often you enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages since they will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.
This does not mean you can "never" enjoy beverages with sugar or calories; you may need to be a little more intentional with your portions or when you have them.
Some of my clients prefer to prioritize eating sugar in food form and whereas others wanted to keep their caramel macchiatos but they lowered them to 1-2 times per week.
Should I try a vegan diet for PCOS?
Not unless you want to! A vegan diet will help you eat many more vegetables, beans, lentils, soy products like tofu or edamame beans, nuts, seeds, and fruit.
All of these foods can
boost your fibre intake
improve your gut health
stabilize your blood sugar
There is a downside to the vegan diet though. You will need to plan more to get enough protein and if you are planning on getting pregnant, you need to be careful to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals for the baby and you!
Should I try a Keto diet for PCOS?
I answered this one later on!
Can I lose weight with PCOS?
Absolutely, you can lose weight with PCOS. You may need to practice more patience as insulin resistance and high androgens can make this process difficult but it is possible.
Many of our clients have succeeded by focusing on the process instead of obsessing over the scale. It is much easier said than done but we help our clients embody this mindset through the Edge Nutrition Method.
Can I Cure PCOS?
I answered this question above!
Should I go dairy free or gluten free for PCOS?
I answer this one below!
Foods to Avoid If You Have PCOS
Carbs and PCOS
You do not need to go on a keto diet or a low carb diet to treat PCOS! In fact, cutting out all carbs might make your cravings or emotional eating worse.
You will have so much more energy, lower cravings, and a better mood when you switch to high-quality carbohydrates most of the time! Trust me, low carb is a 1-way ticket to struggle city and generally, feeling sh*tty.
Sugar and PCOS
You do not need to cut out all sugar to treat PCOS either! The same as above, you will find your craving levels go through the roof!
We know that sugar can make PCOS symptoms worse so here is a phrase that many of my clients find helpful "You can eat anything you want, but maybe not everything (and still reach your goals)". This can help you make more balanced decisions
Gluten Free and PCOS
You do not need to go gluten free if you have PCOS but you do need to go gluten free if you have Celiac disease. There is a lot of misinformation out there that gluten causes inflammation which would not be a good fit for women with PCOS. Inflammation can further increase testosterone and insulin resistance which are the driving factors of PCOS symptoms!
The issue is that gluten does not increase inflammation in ALL women with PCOS. If you are struggling with gut health issues, you could benefit from discussing with your doctor about testing for Celiac disease or working with a Dietitian to help you determine your foo