Ever since I was a teenager, I had an interest in diet and nutrition. I remember when I was about 16, I had read about a rice and fruit cleanse online and I would just eat a huge portion of white rice and fruit each day for about 3 days to lose weight and gain more energy. Unfortunately, instead of seeing a decreasing number, the scale would just mock me by showing me an increase in weight. Nevertheless, I was confused by my mother saying: “No wonder you don’t lose any weight if you stuff yourself with these big portions of rice.”
In my early twenties, when I was living in Switzerland and had just graduated college, I thought I was following a healthy diet – and I guess at that time it was right for me – having banana pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, pasta with vegetable sauce for dinner and lots of fruit in between.
Before I started my health coach training in 2017, when I was working and living in Dubai already, I used to have a smoothie made from pineapple, mango, banana and yogurt for breakfast, salmon with a huge portion of mashed potatoes and vegetables for lunch or dinner, and some snacks in between.
You probably can relate to that, because you have gone through a similar diet journey, but you might be wondering what is wrong with such diets when it comes down to eating for PCOS. You will find out now. Here are 3 tips on what not to do when you have PCOS and what to do instead:
Start Your Day With A PCOS Friendly Breakfast
Yes, you can have a smoothie for breakfast, but there are certain criteria that come with a PCOS friendly smoothie. First of all, it should not be packed with fruits that have a high glycemic index, such as mango, pineapple and banana. Choose fruits that are on the lower glycemic range such as berries. Secondly, add greens, more fiber and healthy fats to your smoothie. One of my go-to smoothies is made from avocado, frozen blueberries, flax seeds, fresh baby spinach and unsweetened almond milk.
If you prefer a savory breakfast, I would recommend eggs in all forms, such as a vegetable omelet, shakshouka with my Keto Bread Rolls or just plain sunny-side up eggs fried in ghee or olive oil with some added turmeric and black pepper.
For hormonal balance, high energy levels and reduced cravings you want to start your day with a breakfast that will not lead to blood sugar spikes. Avoid refined carbs and sugar and eat protein, fiber and healthy fats with a small amount of carbs at each meal. For more breakfast inspiration and a great start into your day, you can download my free PCOS Recipe E-Book.
Load Up Your Plate With Nutrients Not Calories
If you think about it, there is only so much you can eat throughout your day. I don’t believe you should count every calorie, but there is a certain threshold for everyone that should not be crossed. By the way, it is not just how much you eat that influences your weight – your hormones, such as insulin or thyroid hormones, play an important role in weight management, so balancing those, by keeping blood sugar stable and getting the nutrients you need in order to have your hormone glands functioning optimally, should be the focus.
If you load up your plate with empty calories such as french fries, croissants, sandwiches or candy, you will not only eat too much and cause hormonal imbalances, but have less space to add nutrients to your diet. Start your day with a breakfast high in protein and add some healthy fats and vegetables. Eat one or two main meals a day loaded with a variety of nutrient dense foods such as greens and other vegetables, nuts, seeds, salmon, eggs, quinoa, olive oil, organic chicken, grass-fed beef and berries.
Remember this phrase: “Count nutrients, not calories.”
It Is Not Just About Knowing What, But Also When To Eat For PCOS
When it comes to meal timings, less is often more. What I mean by that is that constant eating and snacking is bad for PCOS. When you eat, your blood sugar will go up. Your pancreas will secrete a hormone called insulin, whose job it is to open the cells for the sugar, so it can be used for energy. Usually, blood glucose levels go back to normal 2 to 3 hours after eating, but if we eat and snack constantly, our blood sugar levels will stay continually high and insulin will be secreted non-stop. Elevated blood sugar and insulin levels can cause insulin resistance over time, which affects about 75% of women with PCOS. On top of that, it can cause the ovaries to produce excess testosterone as well as the liver to secrete less SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which again leads to higher levels of testosterone in your blood stream which will affect your ovaries and can lead to acne and hair loss.
I recommend eating a high protein breakfast within one hour of waking up and spacing your meals 4 to 5 hours apart. If you need a snack, grab something that does not spike your glucose levels too much, such as a hard boiled egg, dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa), nuts and seeds, berries, apple with almond butter, carrots with humus, crunchy chickpeas, kale chips or a protein shake without refined sugar.
Now It’s Time To Take Action
The best way to reverse your PCOS is to take action. What are 3 things that you learned from this article, that you would like to apply in your life within the next 2 weeks? Do you need to have more protein and less carbs for breakfast? Do you need to stop snacking all the time? Do you need to replace some empty calories with nourishing food?
Grab your favorite journal or planner, set goals, make plans and then do it.
Let me know in the comments below how it goes and feel free to get in touch should you have any questions.
Sending you my love,