It’s not uncommon for women with PCOS to seek nutrition solutions online for their condition, and with a quick Google search, you can see that there are hundreds of “right ways to do it” published on various blogs and websites.
So how do you choose the right diet if you’re struggling with PCOS?
Given that PCOS is primarily a metabolic disease, nutrition seems like a reasonable place to start to have conversations about how to help support women. That said, when looking at the research it’s incredibly clear what the biggest predictors of success art for women with PCOS trying to support her symptoms with diet and nutrition.
#1 Is it sustainable?
PCOS is a lifelong condition for women and so it makes sense why we would want to choose a nutrition plan that has sustainability as the primary goal. Patient who embark on very strict eating plans, plans that are different than their regular cultural diet, or plans that lead to incredible hunger are not optimal solutions. We can only expect that women would stick to a plan like this for a short period of time. Most of the research on diet for PCOC requires women to follow their plans for at least six months to start to see the kinds of impacts they are hoping to have. Which means if you can’t imagine your life without cheese, your diet plan should probably include it.
#2 Is it actually addressing your symptoms?
Women with PCOS could have a range of symptoms including challenges with weight management, depression, acne or unwanted hair growth, or infertility. The diet plan and nutrition strategy for each woman will be different depending on what her goals are. There are certain foods that have been shown to support acne and reduce hair growth in women with PCOS and they are not the same foods that we find beneficial for fertility. All women with PCOS would benefit from adopting a more Mediterranean style diet with a high focus on fiber, certain vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.
#3 Have you had any blood work?
Because PCOS can present differently in every woman, it’s important that you have blood work done to assess what’s actually going on with your hormones and metabolism. Depending on your blood work, it may change your nutritional needs or the focus of your diet and nutrition plan. Testing hormones such as insulin, and progesterone to confirm ovulation will help your Naturopathic Doctor choose a plan that is going to solve your symptoms. Women with PCOS often don’t have elevated blood sugar like a diabetic patient, meaning that these women need more specific testing to help understand how her condition is affecting her metabolism. In addition to hormone testing, and women with PCOS should have their vitamin D status tested. Interestingly, when a woman’s vitamin D levels are low, her nutrition plan is not as effective at helping her manage her weight. Women with PCOS have lower vitamin D levels than women without, making it an essential lab test to fully understand your condition.
As you can see, most women with PCOS need a tailored approach to her nutrition and health plan to address her specific goals and specific needs. It’s hard to know where to turn for trusted information on your condition when it feels like all of the information you read is conflicting. If you aren’t sure where to turn for support with your hormones, book a 15 minute free consultation with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to learn more about how we can reduce the overwhelm, and help you choose a sustainable health plan that will meet your goals. Call the office now to book a time to get started on your path to better health.