PCOS is a hormonal disorder among women that is caused mainly due to endocrine dysfunction. Around 50% of women with the disorder are overweight or obese. It is characterized by hormonal imbalances, involving not just the reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen but also hormones that regulate blood sugar, fat storage and appetite.
Are you having trouble in losing weight? Do you have prolonged menstrual irregularities? acne or excess hair? If your answer is yes to one or some of these symptoms, you may have a condition called Polysystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS . PCOS affects 6 to 10% of women in the child bearing age.
Diet and exercise are important parts of managing PCOS. This is because young women with PCOS often have higher level of insulin (a hormone) in their blood and may have trouble maintaining a healthy weight. Knowing the right foods to eat as well as the kind of foods to limit , can improve the way you feel if you have PCOS. It will also help you lose weight.
Eating well, staying active and maintaining healthy weight ( or losing even a small amount of weight if you are overweight ) can improve PCOS symptoms.
Irregular periods or no menstruation at all.
Abnormal hair growth.
Uncontrolled weight gain.
Foods to be avoided :-
Starchy and sugary foods
Refined carbohydrate such as bread, muffins, pastries, cakes, white rice etc.
All processed foods like French fries, processed meat etc.
Coffee and alcohol.
Foods to be added to your diet :-
High fiber vegetables – Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, green and red pepper, beans and pumpkin have the most nutrients per calorie than any other food.
Anti inflammatory foods such as turmeric and tomatoes.
Lean protein like tofu, chicken, fish etc.
Drink 2 litres of water every day. You can add some tasty twist to your water by adding fresh cucumber, mint , lemons to it.
Fruits :- Try to eat fruits that have a lower GI . Low GI diet includes apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, coconut, kiwi, orange, prunes.
Have a handful of seeds or nuts with fruits as protein helps to regulate the sugar spikes resulting from a fruit.
Supplements :- Many women with PCOS are deficient in many nutrients. So make sure you take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. You can take vitamins like B complex, vitamin D.
Early morning – 7-8 pieces of soaked almonds or 2 whole pieces of walnuts with 1 tsp of honey .
1 glass of lukewarm water with ½ tsp of lemon juice + 1 tsp of honey
amla + aloe vera juice 2 tbs in 1 glass of water(not chilled)
Breakfast – Upma with lots of vegetables( like
onion, capsicum, carrot, green coriander etc) – 1 medium size bowl .You can add
1 tsp of roasted chana daal or 1 tsp of roasted peanuts also in upma + 1 cup of
green tea with honey (No refined sugar)
Poha(Brown poha) with lots of vegetables – 1 medium size bowl + 1 cup of green tea
Oats porridge – 1 medium bowl
Stuffed Roti 2 with 1 cup of green tea ( You can stuff with onion ,cauliflower, raddish etc)
Mid morning - Mixed Salad (cucumber, tomato, beans, bell pepper, broccoli etc) – 1 medium size plate
Or mixed fruit chat of apple, pear ,plum ,orange, kiwi ,grapes etc – 1 medium size plate (Avoid juice).
Lunch –Any green vegetable – 1 small bowl + 1 small bowl of curd/ any daal + missi roti 2 (Instead of 2 chapattis you can take 1 small bowl of brown rice with 1 missi roti)
After 2 hours of lunch – Green tea with 1 small bowl of roasted chana or diet namkeen or 2 marrie biscuits . You can take 1 medium bowl of sprouted moong or chana or hand full dry fruits or mix fruit chat 1 bowl
In evening – Tomato or mix veg soup 1 medium size bowl ( Home made) .
Dinner – 1 big bowl of any lentil (daal) + 1 big bowl of steamed or cooked mix vegetables …….No chapatti or rice .
After 2-3 hours of dinner – 1 cup skimmed milk
Note – Avoid to take soya products
Try to take less dairy products
Lifestyle changes : -
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Eat whole fruits instead of fruit juice.
Eat small healthy meals more frequently to manage cravings and hunger pangs and never miss breakfast.
Women with PCOS are at much higher risk of heart diseases and diabetes, so it is better not to aggravate the risk further by smoking.
Have enough sleep every night because the lack of sleep can affect hormones and worsen your symptoms and problems.
Note – Its important that we understand there is no cure for PCOS and there is no magical formula to make us cure of this disease magically. Only by making these diet and lifestyle changes now, we can manage our symptoms and life to a great extent later.
Keep a track of your periods and make it a point to consult your doctor if you are missing your periods consistently for several months or if there is a gap of more than 40 to 50 days between two periods. The absence of regular periods increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
Answers to some of the questions frequently asked by patients having PCOS :-
Q- Are carbs unhealthy?
No, carbs give you body energy. Some people think that eating carbs will make them gain weight. It happens only if you eat too much. High fiber carbohydrate foods are high in nutrients and help you feel full longer than sugary low fiber carbohydrates. It is best to change these as often as possible.
Q -Do I need to follow a diet that is extra in protein?
Ans – No you should aim for a diet that has a balance of protein, healthy carbohydrates and some fats.
Important : - Having more frequent, smaller meals and snacks will keep your insulin level low throughout the day.
Dr. Suman Setia BAMS DNHE PGDHHM
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