PCOS Lifestyle and Management
Being diagnosed with PCOS can feel heavy and overwhelming. You are told to make lifestyle changes but did you receive education on what this means? More times than not this leads to you searching Google and support groups to find your answers. My patients often tell me “ I didn’t know how much weight I should lose, when to start taking medications, or what types of physical activity would actually make a difference in my health. It was an emotional time, and it feel so lost.” Does this sound familiar? I truly believe that PCOS patients need an individualized approach to their health care, however, there are certain things that all can implement starting tomorrow.
Blood sugar management is key to this disease. So what does that mean? There are a lot of misconceptions about carbs for those with PCOS. For example, the thought that all carbs are bad. That is a misconception. There are many different kinds of carbs and one should take care to make sure they eat the right kind of carbs as well as the right amount of carbs.
Here are some carb ideas:
Eat healthy fats such as avocado oil, nuts seeds, coconut oil, coconut flour, nut butter, salmon, tuna, and ground flax. Putting in just a little bit of ground flax in your smoothies can positively impact your insulin levels.
There is discussion within the community about going gluten-free or dairy-free, and I truly think this should be based on each individual. If you truly have a sensitivity to those things, then you should cut them out. One way to test this is by doing a food sensitivity test. Another way is to avoid eating the item you feel could be a sensitivity for two to four weeks and see if you have any symptom improvement.
If so, then keep it out of your diet. If not slowly, bring it back into a few meals and see if you notice any negative symptoms occurring.
pair protein with all meals and snacks
Add protein to all your meals and snacks, especially when eating carbs. Why is this? Because protein takes approximately five hours to digest and metabolize where carbs are 30 minutes. So if you pair that protein with that carb, you are blunting that insulin from spiking and it’s slowing down how your body uses that insulin.
Making sure that you eat every three to four hours, I lean towards three. You want to avoid your blood sugars doing a rollercoaster effect of going up and down. If you go long periods of time without eating, you are going to have this dive in your blood sugar and when you eat, you’re going to spike your blood sugar. It is important that you are eating more often and avoid long periods of time without eating. Try adding one or two tablespoons of cinnamon on cereal or in your shakes to help decrease insulin resistance and better manage the regulation of your insulin levels.
Have you heard of the 80-20 mindset? This has greatly helped me stay more consistent with healthy eating. Here is what it looks like. If you’re going to a wedding, birthday party, or an event that is serving delicious foods, you get to eat them! The following meal or day you will then return to your nutrition plan. Eighty percent of the week you are following your PCOS ( or any!) nutrition plan and twenty percent you are allowed to eat things that normally would be avoided.
Restriction can be hard and lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and makes us all together not want to continue with a plan. Certain cultures use food as part of traditions unless you have a known sensitivity I say to follow this mindset when it comes to food and hopefully, you too will become more consistent.
Meal Prep Tips
I am all about meal prepping. It saves me time during the week, allowing me to plan my week accordingly. For example, if I know I’m going to be away Sunday,I’ll focus my efforts on meal prepping on Monday. Find the day that works best for you and I promise if you do this you will find this to be one less task.
I wash and prep my fruit and vegetables immediately after purchasing so they are ready to grab and go. I have found that if I do not do this I will eat them and avoid the science experiment of growing mold in my fridge. Using my InstaPot, crockpot, and Airfryer has been very helpful in preparing meals ahead of time. Eat more foods that are antioxidant-rich, such as berries, dark leafy greens, adding omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, spices, and herbs. One idea is to add more garlic, turmeric, and ginger to your cooking spices.
the best type of exercise for PCOS
One way to better stabilize your blood sugars is to go for a walk after meals if your schedule allows. Find a strength training program that you enjoy. We know that building muscle mass will better regulate insulin levels and your body is better able to use insulin. My number one rule with exercise is that you enjoy it. So finding something that you like, not something that feels forced or pressured and that’s what you’re going to do for your source of physical activity. Aim for a goal of being active for at least 150 minutes per week.
Aim for seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep per night. What does that mean? You’re not tossing and turning or not waking up. Implement a sleep routine that consists of going to bed at the same time most nights, getting up at the same time, dark and cool room, and my favorite is adding a sound machine. We know that getting 6.5 hours or less of sleep per night is linked to higher fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance. Do we see the theme here with insulin levels? Poor sleep can lead to sugar and carb cravings. I know any amazing person who does sleep training if you are really struggling with creating a sleep routine.
These are just a few things that you can implement if you have been diagnosed with PCOS. I truly belive having an individulzied plan will benefit you significanlty when manging your symptoms. Always advocate for your healthcare if you feel something is missing or not right. Know that my inbox is always open and you are not alone.
Also Read: The Ugly Truth About Diagnosing PCOS
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