Doctors Say This is the Best Diet for Women with PCOS

What we eat has a direct impact on our health. Our diets matter even more when we’ve already been diagnosed with a chronic health issue. If you follow an unhealthy diet, you’re much more likely to experience symptoms that negatively interfere with your life. Following a healthier diet may have the opposite effect.

Polycystic ovary syndrome isn’t caused by food. But changing the way you eat might significantly improve your life.

These are the best foods to eat (and avoid) and why what you eat is so important when managing the various symptoms of PCOS.

Diet and PCOS: How are they related?

PCOS can interfere with a woman’s reproductive health and affect many other aspects of her life, including how well she sleeps at night and the amount of energy she has throughout the day.

The biggest connection between diet and PCOS is the way your body uses and responds to insulin. It’s very common for women with PCOS to be resistant to insulin, which means theirĀ bodies don’t use it properly and have to deal with high blood sugar as a result.

A diet high in refined carbohydrates not only contributes to insulin resistance, but can make it — and other factors — more difficult to control.

Eating healthy with PCOS isn’t as complicated as it may seem. It can help you lose weight and avoid worsening your symptoms.

How to lose weight with PCOS

Weight loss

Weight loss | Ensuria/Getty Images

Most doctors working with women diagnosed with PCOS will recommend weight loss — if necessary — as an overall goal when going over treatment options. This is because women who are overweight or obese tend to experience more severe symptoms than those who are not.

It can be difficult to lose weight if you have PCOS. It’s common for this condition to develop alongside mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. Many women also experience sleep problems, which can lead to fatigue. This can make seemingly simple diet and exercise recommendations difficult to follow.

However, doctors do know that making lifestyle changes that promote weight loss can significantly improve a woman’s symptoms. Start by making very small changes, such as adding one food to your diet you don’t usually consume, or eating less of one food that could be causing you harm.

Foods to avoid with PCOS

It’s best to limit or avoid highly processed foods. These foods tend to lack the nutrition necessary to make their calories worth consuming — if your body can’t use them for fuel, they have nowhere to go. Try to eat less of the following:

  • Processed foods (deli meat, some cheeses, desserts)
  • Foods high in refined carbohydrates (pastries, white bread, breakfast cereal)
  • Drinks high in added sugars

Added sugars and refined carbohydrates may contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance, two common issues affecting women with PCOS.

PCOS diet: Foods to eat more of

Broccoli

Broccoli | phasinphoto/iStock.com/Getty Images

There is no one diet specifically designed for women with PCOS. However, following a diet that includes plenty of lean proteins and high-fiber foods is one of the best things you can do to lose weight, prevent insulin resistance, and reduce the severity of your symptoms.

With PCOS, you should try to eat more of the following foods:

  • Fish, lean meat
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach, arugula, and kale
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Sweet potatoes.

Both lean protein and fiber can help you reach a feeling of fullness faster and maintain that feeling longer. This makes you less likely to overeatĀ and promotes weight loss.