8 Diet Tips If You’re Suffering With PCOS!

by Bel Rowntree

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of my favourite conditions to work with in my fertility practice. That might seem like an odd thing to say, but the reason it is one my favourites is because we have so much power to make a really big difference to hormonal balance, PCOS symptoms like weight gain, hair growth and acne, healthy (regular!) periods and ultimately, a healthy conception and a healthy pregnancy!

One of the areas that is always a huge focus of my prescription for my PCOS patients is what is happening with their diet. Without a healthy diet as our foundation, even with all of the herbs and all of the supplements in the world, we’re going to really struggle to make changes and see progress.

My absolute, without-a-doubt, key dietary recommendation for PCOS is to break up with sugar, including white carbohydrates.

Sugar is easily the biggest troublemaker in PCOS, and that’s due to its effect on blood sugar levels and the action of a hormone called insulin. When blood sugar levels are high (like after we’ve eaten a bowl of pasta, or a handful of M&Ms) swings into action to take the glucose from the blood and shuttle it into our cells to be used for fuel. When we’re constantly triggering insulin into action with our diet choices, insulin levels rise, this shuttling process becomes overwhelmed and overworked, and as a result more glucose stays in the blood than it should. This is what we call insulin resistance – our cells have become resistant to the action of insulin. 

High levels of insulin, like we see in insulin resistance, is detrimental in two ways:

  1. It will instead store glucose in our fat cells, mainly in and around our abdomen – hello, weight gain!
  2. It will tell our ovaries to increase the amount of testosterone they’re pumping out – hello, excess/unwanted hair growth and acne! Hello irregular cycles!

So to reduce the load we’re placing on the insulin response, it’s crucial that we choose foods that SLOWLY release sugar into our bloodstream, and limit/remove foods that flood our insulin response.

Here are my 8 diet tips if you’re suffering with PCOS:

  1. Switch to seed crackers for snacking rather than rice crackers, chips or biscuits. Carmen’s and Mary’s Gone Crackers are two of my favourite brands, they are easily found at major supermarkets and can be eaten with hummus, guacamole, cheese or nut butters
  2. Make your own nutty, seedy muesli to replace sugary breakfast cereals and granola. Simply mix together ⅔ cup each of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts, add 3 tbsps sesame seeds and combine well. You can store it raw in the pantry or lightly toast on a baking tray for 10-15 mins at 160℃. Enjoy your nutty muesli with yoghurt
  3. Choose Pulse Pasta as a replacement for white or wholemeal pasta for additional fibre and far, far less insulin triggering carbohydrates. Zucchini noodles are also a great choice for an extra serve of veg.
  4. Replace white rice with cooked quinoa or cauliflower rice alongside of your stir fry or curry.
  5. Look for sneaky sugar in processed foods – get in the habit of checking food labels and choose foods that contain no more than 5g sugar (that’s 1 teaspoon!) per 100g
  6. Stop drinking! Alcohol not only slows down your liver, which also has an important role in blood sugar management and hormone balance, but alcohol itself often contains a surprisingly high amount of carbohydrate – a glass of sparkling wine can contain up to 2 teaspoons of sugar! If you’re trying to conceive, then alcohol is something to avoid completely, but even if you’re just wanting to regulate your cycles and manage your PCOS it’s also important to reduce your intake.
  7. Protein is your new best friend! Protein helps to slow down the release of glucose in the blood and is our key tool to help reduce insulin levels. You can include more protein in your diet by choosing things like eggs with avocado and mushrooms, chia pudding or greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries for breakfast. Snack on hummus with vegie sticks, a small handful of nuts, boiled eggs, goats cheese on seed crackers or unsweetened greek yoghurt. Include meat, eggs, legumes, cheese, organic non-GMO tofu/tempeh or nuts at lunch and dinner.
  8. Cinnamon is a wonder herb for helping reduce insulin resistance, and can easily be added to yoghurt, nutty seedy muesli, smoothies or even sprinkled onto a cup of tea made with your favourite milk.

Hopefully these have given you a greater understanding of how what we choose to eat can have a major impact on PCOS outcomes, and maybe you’ve even gotten some easy, yummy meal and snack inspiration! 

If you’re interested in tackling your PCOS and feel you would benefit from a greater understanding of your specific PCOS drivers, or have been diagnosed with PCOS and are planning for a baby, I am here for you! Appointments are able to be booked online or you can call the Dispensary on 5977 0117. Looking forward to meeting you already! 🙂

Love, Bel

Eating for PCOS