Building a PCOS Meal Plan

    Building a PCOS Meal Plan

    PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility among women. Although treatment options often include medications, and sometimes, even surgery, a huge part of management lies in diet and nutrition. Here is an easy PCOS meal plan you can follow.

    What is PCOS?

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that affects women in their reproductive years.

    PCOS patients often have elevated levels of insulin, and the male hormone, androgen. However, even with the higher levels of insulin in the blood, most women with PCOS are insulin-resistant.

    Another characteristic of polycystic ovary syndrome is the presence of follicles or collection of fluids around the ovaries. Due to this, the ovaries might not be able to release egg cells regularly and affect fertility.

    Additionally, since most women with PCOS are also insulin-resistant, they may be prone to Type 2 Diabetes.

    Whether it is to address issues with prolonged menstrual cycles, obesity, or to help in boosting their fertility, a PCOS meal plan may be recommended to help address the different health concerns.

    pcos meal plan

    The Importance of Diet in PCOS Management

    In many references, there are three main management options for PCOS. You have medications, surgery, and last but not the least, lifestyle changes.

    When it comes to lifestyle changes, someone who has PCOS must pay particular attention to their diet and nutrition. This is because diet and nutrition directly affect a person’s weight.

    It Helps Control Weight

    Formulating a PCOS meal plan helps ensure that you have a normal Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the measure of our body fat based on our height and weight. If you have a normal BMI (typically 18.5 – 24.9), then you have a healthy weight.

    You see, according to reports, a weight loss of just 5% can already significantly improve the signs and symptoms of PCOS.

    If you are looking for a way to know your BMI, you can check out our tool here.

    It Helps Manage Insulin Level

    Diet and nutrition are also important in managing PCOS because it can help with insulin resistance.

    In one study involving healthy women with PCOS who didn’t receive any form of hormonal and insulin-sensitizing therapy, it showed that a “moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrates” could improve insulin concentration.

    Over time, this improvement in insulin concentration could lead to a better reproductive or endocrine outcome.

    What is the PCOS Diet?

    Now that you know about the importance of having a PCOS meal plan, you probably want to know how different this diet is from a typical diet.

    The PCOS diet is not that different from a well-balanced diet. Below are the lists of the best and worst foods for polycystic ovary syndrome.

    The Best Foods for PCOS

    Fiber

    Fiber is not only good for the digestive system, but it is also great for lowering the insulin level. On top of that, it provides antioxidants that fight inflammation.

    Examples of foods that are rich in fiber are whole grains, like brown rice and whole oats, and legumes, such as black beans and lentils.

    Antioxidants

    Antioxidants, as mentioned earlier, fight off inflammation. Since inflammation could potentially cause elevated insulin levels, try to include antioxidant-heavy foods in your PCOS meal plan.

    Antioxidant-heavy food choices are typically fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats from foods like olive oil, avocados, and pecans.

    Low GI Foods

    Aside from being rich in antioxidants and fiber, you also need to select foods based on their glycemic index (GI). To remember, glucose means refers to blood sugar, which is one of the main concerns of those with diabetes and PCOS.

    Basically, for your diet, you want to add foods that have a low-glycemic index as they minimally affect the glucose level. In other words, they do not raise your blood sugar that much compared to other foods.

    This is especially important for PCOS patients as they may have insulin resistance. Some examples of fruits and veggies that have low GI are:

    • Apples
    • Cranberries
    • Blackberries
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Peach
    • Grapefruit
    • Asparagus
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Eggplant
    • Cucumber
    • Celery
    • Lettuce
    • Tomatoes
    • Okra
    • Onions
    • Turnip
    • Spinach

    The Worst Foods for PCOS

    After discussing the best choices, let’s now talk about the worst foods for PCOS.

    The foods you must avoid are refined sugar, processed foods, sugary drinks, trans and saturated fats, and alcohol. Here’s a more specific list:

    • Soft drinks or sweetened juice
    • Starchy foods
    • Refined grains, like white bread, rice, and pasta
    • Sugary pastries, like cakes and cookies
    • Candies
    • Snacks like potato chips
    • Alcohol

    Important Rules for a PCOS Meal Plan

    With your knowledge about the best choices and worst foods for PCOS, you will be better equipped to follow these simple rules:

    1. Drink plenty of water. If water “bores” you, add taste by flavoring it with fresh citrus fruits or cucumber.
    2. Check the labels of packed foods. Should you eat pre-packed food, check the label. If it has more than 5 ingredients, chances are the packed food is highly processed.
    3. Go for small, frequent meals. To prevent spikes in your blood sugar level, consider eating small servings, every 3 or 4 hours.
    4. Make sure that your meal is balanced. When preparing your meal, balance complex carbs with lean proteins. Also, don’t forget your servings of fruits and vegetables.
    5. Consider meal prepping. When you prepare your meals and snacks, you will be less tempted to buy sugary and processed foods.

    Key Takeaways

    Many women are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. While most cases will require medications, diet remains to be an important part of managing the symptoms. Preparing a PCOS meal plan helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and might even lower your insulin level.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20is%20a,fail%20to%20regularly%20release%20eggs.
    Accessed July 28, 2020

    Polycystic ovary syndrome
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/treatment/
    Accessed July 28, 2020

    PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes
    https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/pcos.html
    Accessed July 28, 2020

    Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752890/
    Accessed July 28, 2020

    PCOS: Nutrition Basics
    https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/12/12/pcos-nutrition/
    Accessed July 28, 2020

    Low Gylcemic Meal planning
    https://www.nhrmc.org/~/media/testupload/files/low-gylcemic-meal-planning.pdf?la=en
    Accessed July 30, 2020

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated 6 days ago
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD