Diet and exercise can have a huge impact on reducing the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular or absent menstrual cycles, acne, hair loss, insulin resistance, facial hair growth, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, intense food cravings, and depression. Research has shown that just by changing the composition of what you are eating and improving your nutrition, you can improve these PCOS symptoms. If you are overweight, strive to lose 5-10% of your body weight. Of course, let’s not forget exercise. In some studies, exercise was just as effective at reducing PCOS symptoms as some of the medications used for PCOS.
PCOS Diet Plan
- Eat small, frequent meals during the day. You want to be eating every 4 - 6 hours during the time you are awake. This helps keep the blood sugar and hunger levels stable throughout the day. Skipping meals or going for long stretches without eating during the day can slow down your metabolism, making weight maintenance or weight loss much more difficult.
- Consume low glycemic index carbohydrates. Low glycemic index carbohydrates are slow to digest, keeping the blood sugar in check. Make sure all the grains you are eating are WHOLE grains. Whole wheat brown, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, millet, and steel cut oatmeal are all healthy grains that can be incorporated in your diet. Avoid white breads, cakes, cookies, regular soda, and candy as these foods are very high in the glycemic index.
- Add lean protein to all meals and snacks. Adding protein to your meals and snacks will keep you fuller longer and help you avoid intense cravings during the day. Good protein options include beans, lentils, low fat yogurt, turkey, chicken, nuts, almonds, cashews, egg whites, low fat cheese, peanut butter and almond butter.
- Eat 2 servings of fresh fruit a day. Fresh fruit is an excellent snack and can help satisfy sweet cravings. Fruits like berries, apples, pears, grapefruit, and oranges are excellent options. Avoid dried fruit and juice.
- Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in plant based foods like olive oil, canola oil, avocado, and nuts. Unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol, another common side effect of PCOS.
- Eat non-starchy vegetables 3 times a day. Non-starchy vegetables like kale, cucumbers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, spinach, turnips, and asparagus are low in calories and filled with fiber. A serving of non-starchy vegetables is approximately 25 calories. The fiber in vegetables slows down the digestion of whatever else you are eating, thereby keeping you fuller longer.
- Stay hydrated. Aim for 64-80 ounces of water a day. Keep a water bottle handy to help you keep track of your water intake.
Don't forget... March is National Nutrition Month!
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