PCOS UK (Verity)
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Diet and PCOS

Hi.

After years of living a sedentary lifestyle and eating large amounts of unhealthy food I have decided (with a GIANT nudge from my GP!) to jump on the healthy eating bandwagon and shift some weight!

My GP advised me that dropping my BMI to within the healthy range and eating a healthier diet will not only help my overall health, but improve my mental health and hopefully alleviate some of the symptoms of my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Have any of you had success in managing symptoms of PCOS through diet and/or weight loss? If so could you offer any tips?

Much appreciated,

Kay

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Low GI can reduce the symptoms so cut out white carbs as they, in my opinion, are the route of all evil.

I think the main thing I would suggest is find a diet that suits you and you like as it does make it easier to stick to and it really needs to be a lifestyle change rather than a 'diet'. We still need to eat less than the norm though, if we ate the RDA we would put on 2lb a month so over a stone a year so we need to eat considerably less just to maintain our weight.

I have tried a variety of diets over the years, my favourite was the Norah Lane diet and this one I found the most successful too (it is low GI), she is just bringing out a new book actually. I have also done the 5:2 which I quite like (I don't go OTT on the non fast days, I have to say it has totally changed how I feel about hunger now, it is tricky to get your head around it though!!)

I am currently on the Keto diet (so high fat low carb) - I have only lost 10lb since beginning of January but lost 4 inches off my waist and 3 off my belly button, I have also lost back fat but hadn't measured so not sure how many inches so this is working but did struggle with the high fat part as not used to it, you do feel full though the whole time unlike other diets but in my view it is quite expensive and you do need to plan ahead as its not as if you can have a bit of toast or something if you are unorganised.

So key is to find a diet that suits you and your lifestyle as it will be easier for you to stick to long term.

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Hiya

Like you for many years, I had been sedentary and my weight was creeping up and up, til last summer I hit crisis point. I did not understand PCOS or how to manage it and I didn’t recognise my body anymore. At over 15 stone, feeling very unwell, sluggish, my PCOS symptoms were out of control, stomach pain, hair growth on face, hair loss on head, mood swings from raging hormones and I had severe cystic acne.

I did a lot of research about diet and PCOS and changed my eating habits. Since last summer I have now lost 3 stone, 2 stone of that has been since January. Since January I have been relearning what and how to eat. I don’t see it as a diet but now a permanent lifestyle change and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better.

I am not a nutritionist or expert this is just my own experience and if you need to you could ask your GP to see a nutritionist.

This is what i did:

1. Cut out all white carbs, they are full of refined sugar which many people with PCOS cannot process, as our bodies hold on to the sugar and store it as fat, which is why we put on weight so easily compared to other people. So no pasta, white potatoes, bread, white rice. It sounds extreme, but you do get used to it for example I used to eat bolognese and pasta, but now I eat bolognese and a big side of spinach and broccoli or whatever veggies I have. I used to have a bacon breakfast, I still have it but I have grilled bacon, poached egg and tomatoes. No toast.

2. Cut caffeine down to 1/2 cups a day. Caffeine messes with your hormones.

3. Cut out dairy, except eggs. I now have oatmilk or soya as milk affected my hormonal acne. Please do make sure you get stuff with added calcium as need to make sure you get calcium.

4. Cut out gluten, basically in all wheat carbs which have refined sugars, causes bloating and discomfort. Don’t eat gluten free bread it’s also full of rubbish.

5. Cut out Processed food full of E numbers and chemicals and sweetener and preservatives. Eat whole foods, look at labels. I do still eat sandwich ham and bacon so I’m not perfect but I’ve tried to cut down.

6. Use myfitnesspal app to track food and calories. With PCOS we need don’t need as many calories as people without it, but our hunger hormones make us want to eat more- so double whammy. Learning what your personal calorie intake is important. I was eating loads and well over 2000. I cut down and still didn’t lose weight. I am now eating 1100 to 1200 to lose weight and I now know my normal intake and to not put on weight is about 1300-1400. This is dependent on whether you exercise. And this is individual so you need to learn what for you. But it’s not just about calories- if I ate 1200 calories but it was all bread and pasta I wouldn’t lose weight at all.

6. Lower your stress levels- stress causes cortisol to flood our body and mucks with your hormones. I chose to start yoga and gentle walking, as they are passive gentle exercise. Avoid Hugh impact exercises if you are just starting out from being sedentary. As actually pushing yourself too hard can cause stress and havoc with hormones. I got a cheap Fitbit from eBay and it showed me how little I was doing I now walk much more.

7. Learn about your hormones and endocrine system. I’m currently reading Womencode can get it on Amazon, written by someone with PCOS and learnt so much. I used to hate my body, hate my hormones now I’m trying to work with them more and not fight with my body.

i wish someone had told me all of this, because cutting these out and having lots of veggies and good protein instead is the way forward, I am no longer sluggish and bloated ( i do still have the odd chocolate most days cos I find it very difficult lol - but just a little square for a fix) . I have had cheat days where I have had a Chinese or maccy ds but then I have gotten back on it again and it has now become normal. I have so much more energy, people have commented how different and healthy I look and my skin is glowing. I haven’t felt like this in years. I know it sounds like a lot but I promise you it’s the best thing I have ever done and now eating is normal. I’m not binging on rubbish. The diet I do is basically paleo/ whole 30. Eat fresh food. That’s all and drink loads of water and herbal tea. Apart from walking and yoga I don’t do exercise but now I have lost some weight and exercise won’t hurt my joints as much, I’m feeling like that is my next thing to work on. You can do it! Good luck!

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Ps. Get a good multivitamin

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I agree with Coral_Jo - a lot of what we do is habit - I cut out carbs at night about 4 years ago and it was weird having a curry and no rice or bol without the spag but I dont even think about it now. I havent cut anything out of my diet so still was eating brown bread, dairy as I have never had issues with that (obv carb free currently so no bread or pasta etc)- I used to bloat occasionally and found it was certain combinations of food rather than one thing so I avoid that now and dont bloat.

I am on the combined pill (and have been on and off for 30 years) which helps hugely as well keeping the symptoms under the control - my bmi is something like 27 so still not perfect but I am an old bird as almost 49 and weight loss does get a bit slower as you get older! It is face or waist as you get older too :-)

Find something that suits you though as that is key to success.

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My daughter is 23 and was diagnosed with Hashimoto at 16 which is a thyroid disease. She recently was diagnosed with PCOS. She eats very healthy and exercises. Doing this has helped her alleviate some symptoms. She still can’t seem to lose weight. She first tried eating only vegetables and meat. No sugar. This was tough and she switched to eating vegetables, meat, whole grain, and only blueberries, strawberries and bananas for her fruits. She also eats sweet potatoes daily. She has been happier eating this way. She just got her testosterone checked and it was very low, she is hoping the the metformin and diet may start taking some weight off soon. My daughter has great will power. I’ll keeo you updated. You should definitely eat healthier. Get a nutritionist if you are unsure what to eat.

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Cutting out processed foods in general has dramatically helped me. Giving up bread and chocolate was a killer! I have dieted in the past but always put the weight back on. It’s funny, as soon as you put your mind to it, it is so much easier. Every time you are tempted, tell yourself that your doing it for your health. I did it for my PCOS and it was an added bonus that the weight fell off to!

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