I answer questions about PCOS on a daily basis in my practice. PCOS patients make up the majority of my practice. As someone with PCOS, I’m constantly learning about PCOS (and unlearning some old info) and refining my knowledge as more and more research comes out. In this post, I’ve answered some of the most common questions I get about PCOS.
What should I eat or not eat because of my PCOS?
Truth be told, there’s not a lot of specific foods that we need to focus on apart from reducing red meat with PCOS (and in general since it’s associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, and insulin resistance). If there are foods that bother you, perhaps have those foods occasionally or eliminate them completely. But how we tolerate different foods can change over time, your geography, and depending on what else is going on in life.
There is a high incidence of disordered eating patterns in PCOS patients and I want more and more people to move towards balanced meals that support their health, mood, blood sugar, periods, cardiovascular risk, and more. I want to move away from a culture of restriction and more toward flexibility because this is a lifelong condition. There’s a lot of food misinformation out in the world and I want you to move forward with your eyes open and have conversations with healthcare professionals to support you.
Do I need to remove dairy from my diet?
If you’re lactose intolerant, then it’s a good idea. If dairy bothers you in some way (diarrhea, acne, phlegm, etc.), then it would be a prudent option. However, for most people complete elimination is neither necessary nor practical. I do have a discussion around saturated fat, fatty liver, and insulin resistance with many of my PCOS patients because full-fat dairy is a source of saturated fat. However, this doesn’t apply to everyone!
Do I need to cut out carbs or fruit for PCOS?
No, the focus with PCOS nutrition should be on balance and balanced meals: plenty of lean protein, mostly whole-food carbs, lots of fruits and veggies, and adequate fat intake. Fruits are a great source of fibre, minerals, and antioxidants. We need other sources of carbohydrates like starchy veggies and whole grains for a healthy menstrual cycle.
For healthy blood sugar regulation, protein + fat + fibre/carbs is the formula to use. And not overeating, which means fuelling throughout the day. Fat, protein and fibre help reduce spikes in blood sugar that you may have if you only had a piece of toast + they help you feel more satiated. Some gentle movement after meals can also reduce blood sugar spikes.
It’s important to remember that we never just want to slash a whole food group. We want to work toward flexibility and diversity in your food because that’s associated with good overall health. And we want you to (be able to) enjoy the foods you like in moderation like white rice or ice cream or birthday cake.
This is already a pretty lengthy post, so I’ll continue answering PCOS FAQs in part 2 soon!