Making changes to my nutrition and prioritizing PCOS-friendly foods has been life-changing for me.
It took me months and months of brutal periods (or no period at all) and suffering from all of my other PCOS symptoms (hello acne, anxiety, mood swings, intense cravings, extra weight, unwanted hair growth just to name a few!) before I realized that the food I was eating was having a negative impact on my PCOS and my hormones.
When I was challenged to take a good look at exactly what I was feeding my body, everything changed for me.
I truly believe that the best way to start taking control of your PCOS and your periods (and without having to rely on all the meds for the foreseeable future) is to get serious about your nutrition and the foods you put into your body.
(And if I can do it, you can do it too!)
This is my food philosophy and committing to these eating principles that have been key to my PCOS success…
Eat REAL Food
Choose real, whole foods over processed and packaged ones.
Real foods are those found in nature and the ones that have a simple and pure ingredients list
(ie. the only ingredient in an apple is apple and the only ingredient in a bag of quinoa is quinoa!). Real foods are not altered in any way and there isn’t anything added to make them taste better (ie. no chemicals, preservatives, flavour enhancers, added colours… you get the idea). Real foods are the most nutrient-dense and are the foods that will fuel your body best, keep your blood sugar levels stable, reduce inflammation, and your hunger in check between meals.
What’s helped me the most with this: having a plan that prioritized wholesome foods for the week (and loving the feeling of knowing I’m doing the best I can to support my body and my periods).
Ditch the junk and processed food and say ‘no, thanks!’ to the super-processed food-like products, added chemicals and preservatives, refined flours and sugars, artificial sugars, modified oils, hydrogenated oils and trans fats, foods with little or no nutritional value and most take-out and fast food menu items. These foods lack nutrients, cause inflammation, send blood sugar for a wild ride and stress your body out (this is exactly what you don’t want when you’re trying to heal your body and take control of your PCOS).
What’s helped me the most with this: reading labels and finding healthier versions of the foods I crave the most.
Eat Balanced Meals
A balanced meal means that it contains all three macronutrients – healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. Getting all three macronutrients on your plate at each meal not only helps to keep you feeling fuller longer (no more feeling hungry 20 minutes after a meal) but also helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and ensures that you are getting an abundance of nutrients throughout the day.
Examples of proteins: eggs, turkey, chicken, pork, fish and other seafood, beef, protein and/or collagen powders
Examples of complex carbohydrates: potato/sweet potato, beans and legumes, quinoa, brown rice, fruits like apples and oranges
Examples of healthy fats: flaxseeds, nuts (almond, walnuts, brazil nuts) and nut butter (almond, peanut), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), avocado, coconut, oils (flax oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil).
What’s helped me the most with this: having a plan for the week and making sure that I’m stocking my kitchen with foods from each macronutrient group.
Eat Breakfast EVERY DAY
This is non-negotiable because there are so many benefits to eating a good, healthy breakfast. Breakfast has been linked to higher overall nutrient intake, fewer bouts of emotional eating, fewer cravings later in the day and a breakfast that includes healthy fats can really help to stabilize your blood sugar for the rest of the day as well.
What’s helped me the most with this: having a plan for my meals each week and/or having breakfast prepped and ready to eat when I wake up in the morning
Drink More Water
Make water your drink of choice! Aim to drink 2-3 L of water each day. Staying hydrated is so important for overall health. Have access to water at all times – keep a filled water bottle in the car, one on your desk, in the fridge, etc.
What’s helped me the most with this: I started using a 1L mason jar as my drinking glass at home so now I only have to fill my glass three times throughout the day and I can easily keep track of how much water I’m drinking.
Eat More Food
Eating for PCOS is not about following a diet plan that has you starving all day or only has you eating at certain times of the day. It’s about eating an abundance of nourishing and nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Please don’t ignore your hunger signals or intentionally delay eating when you are hungry.
What’s helped me the most with this: checking in with myself throughout the day to see how I’m actually feeling as well as having a plan and eating my meals around the same time each day so I don’t forget to eat (and end up feeling TOO hangry later in the day).
Nutrients Over Everything Else
When you shift the focus to prioritizing nourishing your body and giving it all the nutrients it needs from real food, that’s when the magic starts to happen. Nutrients are so much more important than the exact number of calories that you eat, meeting a perfect macro balance, or the time of day that you eat (especially so when you are wanting to heal your body from the inside out). I really believe that if you are eating real foods then calories really don’t matter.
What’s helped me the most with this: ditching the old way of thinking that calories are everything (they’re not!) and realizing how much better I feel when my body is getting an abundance of nutrients and enough food each day.
Progress (not perfection)
Leave the ‘all or nothing’ thinking at the door because striving for progress, not perfection, is the goal. We are all human and we will all have slip-ups. We all have bad days. It happens (and sometimes it seems like it happens way too often and that’s ok!). Do not beat yourself up. Change is hard (whether that’s changing the way you eat, the way you do something, whatever it is, change can be really, really hard). Acknowledge where you went wrong, figure out how you can do it differently next time, and continue on your journey (and do not give up!). Choose progress and continuing to move forward over being perfect 100% of the time.
What’s helped me the most with this: reminding myself daily WHY I’m choosing this lifestyle and making my health and periods my top priority (and especially so when life gets hard).
Need help getting started on your PCOS Freedom journey?
It is possible to manage your PCOS naturally through food, nutrition and lifestyle shifts (because relying on the Pill is NOT THE ONLY OPTION!). This is why I want to invite you to learn more about my PCOS Freedom Nutrition and Wellness Programs, so you can start living life without the brutal, unpredictable periods and all those other awful PCOS symptoms too!
In my program, The Always Nourished Sugar Fix, I help women who are SO DONE with letting their PCOS and periods run wild ditch the sugar. I truly believe this program is an amazing FIRST STEP in taking control of your PCOS, your symptoms and (FINALLY!) getting a predictable period. Inside this program, you’ll create sustainable eating habits and lifestyle practices so you can easily say ‘BYE-BYE’ to all the sugar and start feeling really good about eating the foods that will nourish your body and help to manage your PCOS and periods from the inside out.
All of my PCOS Freedom programs focus on addressing the ROOT CAUSES of PCOS (ie. the real reason you’re struggling with PCOS right now) and are what I believe to be the KEY NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE SHIFTS that have the biggest impact on managing PCOS naturally and without having to be on the Pill or other meds for the foreseeable future… because the Pill is not the only option! (Annnnd let’s be real for a sec… The Pill is more of a symptom management solution and doesn’t address what’s happening in your body for PCOS to occur in the first place.)