September is PCOS awareness month! Here are some ways nutrition plays a role in this condition and why dieting isn't the answer!
Approximately 1 in 10 people that are assigned female at birth, have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is an inflammatory condition that causes hormone imbalances, irregular periods, and insulin resistance. Some symptoms of PCOS include increased hair growth (around the chest, face, etc.), acne, irregular or absent periods, weight gain around the waist, and pelvic pain. PCOS can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, infertility, and eating disorders. Most folks don’t even know they have PCOS, and despite its high prevalence, not a whole lot of research has been done yet. So, spread the word! Awareness is needed to help people get the support they need.
Nutrition and physical activity are always a first step when treating PCOS. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly may help to control hormone levels in the body and improve the way insulin is used. This not only improves PCOS symptoms, but it may reduce the risk of developing the other conditions previously listed.
Here are some tips for overall well-being:
- Don’t skip meals! Try eating consistently and enough. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours, even if something small, this can also help with blood sugar control and keep you in tune with your body.
- Aim to include protein, fat, and carbohydrates at meals and snacks. For example have your snacking apple (carb) with peanut butter (protein and fat). Balanced meals and snacks can help keep you satisfied, and keep blood sugar stable.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables when you can! These foods are packed with fiber to keep you full, and have antioxidants and phytochemicals that help with inflammation.
- Don’t feel the need to cut carbs. Choose whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread) most of the time. These grains have more fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Include healthy fats that are found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Fats are satisfying and keep our energy up.
- Include movement in your day. Get creative. Walking, strength training are good options, just find what you like. Relaxing exercises such as yoga, or tai chi can help with well-being and help you feel more connected to your body.
Start where you can and work your way up! Try making one change at a time and gradually working towards feeling your best. If you need more individualized support or just want to have a conversation about your nutritional health please reach out to us for one-on-one counseling services with a dietitian.
Here is an additional resource on PCOS with a inclusive and compassionate approach.