PCOS Diet: What you should be eating (and what not)

  • 21 months ago
3 minute read.
PCOS Diet: What you should be eating (and what not)

PCOS is a metabolic disorder that affects 5-7.5% of all women. The disorder leads to cyst formation in the ovaries and has no exact cure. Common symptoms include infertility, acne, and excessive hair growth. Women with PCOS are at a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Experts now consider that the best type of eating plan to improve symptoms associated with PCOS and insulin insensitivity is a low-GI PCOS diet, based on foods with a lower ranking on the glycemic index.

By maintaining stable blood glucose levels, a low-GI diet also helps to reduce the general level of insulin circulating in the bloodstream and should lead to a gradual improvement in PCOS and insulin sensitivity symptoms.

#1. Choose low-GI whole-grain, cereals, and fruits

Include dense wholegrain breads, brown rice, ragi, bajra, quinoa, and low GI fruits like pears, apple, oranges (rather than fruit juice) in the diet. If some suggests that you should cut off fruits completely from your PCOS diet, they are wrong. The sugar in fruits is natural unlike the one you might add to your tea or use in cakes.

Fruits are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help decrease the effects of PCOS and manage insulin resistance. Additionally, they lower the chances of chronic diseases like cancer.

#2. Have a good source of fiber

Studies have shown that "Intake of 28- 36 g fiber/day, consisting of both soluble and insoluble fiber, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce circulating insulin in adults".

a. Best sources of soluble fiber include apples, oats, and pulses.

b. Vegetables and organic lean protein are marvelous additions to a healthy PCOS diet.

#3. Flaxseed and soy

Some women fear if soy is good for them? This skepticism, however, originates from incorrect nutrition information on the internet. Talk to a wellness professional on The Wellness Corner before believing such facts.

These plant derivatives contain phytoestrogens. Research indicates that these plants, and isolated lignans (proteins) from these plants, have many protective effects on the body that help to improve satiety and reduces hunger.

#4. Healthy oils

For cooking, choose monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, if possible, or any other oil in small quantities. Restrict these fat to 3-4 teaspoons/person/day. Avoid ingredients containing trans-fat and saturated fat as they amplify insulin resistance.

For salads, choose from flax, canola, soy, or extra virgin olive oil.

#5. Nutritious fishes

Eat regular helpings of oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids considered anti-inflammatory, they are more than ever good as part of a diet to combat PCOS.

The other miscellaneous foods that can help to improve insulin sensitivity are:

  • Flaxseeds, methi seeds
  • Lean meats, egg yolk, peanuts, filberts, mushrooms, bananas, soy, peanuts, cauliflower

Sample Vegetarian Diet Plan for PCOS

This simple PCOS diet plan will help you lower carb intake for PCOS. Some people may think that it's quite confining, but it's really not! And, if you want to know other healthy substitutes to these foods, consult a dietitian on The Wellness Corner.

Note: The plan may consist foods that might not suit you, considering factors like previous illness, family history, or allergies. Hence, it is important that you talk to a nutritionist before implementing this diet plan.

Early Morning
Jeera Water / Cinnamon Water
Almonds + Walnuts
1 Glass
5 No + 2 No.
Moong Dal Cheela / Veg Idli / Veg Poha
Low-fat Milk
2 No / 1 Bowl
1 Glass
Mid-Morning Snack
Coconut Water / Buttermilk
Whole Fruit
1 Glass
1 No.
Vegetable Salad
Lentil / Legume Curry / Sambhar
Seasonal Vegetable
Curd / Veg Raita
Multigrain Roti / Plain Dosa
1 Bowl
1 Bowl
1 Bowl
1 Bowl
2 No.
Evening Snack
Green Tea
Roasted Grains / Unsalted Roasted Nuts / Whole Fruit
1 Cup
Fistful / 1 No
Vegetable Soup / Tomato Rasam
Lentil / Sambhar / Kootu
Seasonal Vegetable
Multigrain Roti / Plain Dosa
1 Bowl
1 Bowl
1 Bowl
2 No.
Post Dinner Low-fat Milk 1 Cup

A healthy PCOS diet helps regulating hormones in your body, and indicates them to cue ovulation and menstruation, amongst different things.

What to Avoid?

  • Skip cheese, it may add creaminess and make the food look yummier but it also adds excess fat in your PCOS diet, which is a red flag.
  • Avoid processed foods as they have a higher Glycemic Index (GI), which is raises insulin production and risk of diabetes.
  • Have dairy products in moderation, also it would be safe to consult a doctor to access its suitability, only then you can start including it in your PCOS diet.
  • Some women might have to cut gluten based food in PCOS as it can lead to inflammation and cause excess androgen production, which further causes weight gain and irregular menstruation cycles.

While diet plays a crucial role in managing the symptoms of PCOS, one should exercise regularly, and adopt habits including sleeping on time, controlling stress, and quit any kind of addictives (smoking, alcohol consumption, substance abuse) to lead a healthy life.

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