Each individual is unique and so is their PCOS! Not all women with PCOS have weight issues. PCOS can affect both thin as well as obese women. Not all women with PCOS have menstrual irregularity. Also, while some may have delayed or scanty periods due to PCOS, other suffer form heavy bleeding and prolonged period in PCOS. Although insulin resistance triggers the hormonal imbalances in PCOS, not all women show high levels of insulin or high blood sugar in their blood work!
Although, many women suffer from facial hair/ hirsutism, not all have high levels of testosterone. Just the way we manage all these varied presentation of PCOS differently for every patient, planning meal plans also needs customization!
Creating your own meal plan for PCOS is very simple and a great DIY activity. Here are 5 simple rules that you can follow to design your own PCOS meal plan.
- Identify your problem areas: Understanding your PCOS is the first step to designing
any meal plan. Which of the following is affecting you:
- Weight gain/ difficulty in loosing weight
- Hunger pangs, food cravings , binging or lack of appetite
- IBS, constipation, acidity or stomach bloating and gases
- Body aches, pains, muscle spasms
- Menstrual irregularity- heavy bleeding/scanty bleeding, delayed periods/periods occur too often
- Stress, moods swings, PMS, depression/anxiety, sleep disturbances\
- Lack of energy, exhaustion
- Hair loss
- Facial hair
- Pre-diabetic changes (HbA1C- 5.7-6.4%, Blood Sugar higher than normal)
Shortlist which of the above areas affect you. Based on your list you can start working out a meal plan. You may need the guidance of a professional in case you are not able to understand this area on your own.
2. 5 meals a day:
To ensure hormonal balance in PCOS, eating every 3-4 hours is a must. This eating pattern helps in regularizing insulin functions and ensures steady blood glucose levels- which are a must! Giving long gaps between two meals or skipping meals fuels hormonal imbalances and weight gain in PCOS.
5 points to remember are:
- Have your breakfast within 45 minutes of getting up. This ensures optimum insulin functions. This habit also helps get rid of lethargy and exhaustion, which are triggered by insulin resistance.
- Portion of every meal should be eat 3/4 of your capacity. This helps in regularizing hunger and intake. Also, it helps in preventing overeating.
- Have your dinner as early as possible. Metabolism and digestion slow down after sunset. Hence, in PCOS where metabolism and digestion are already at their rock bottom, early dinner is a must.
3. Keep it simple:
Keeping your PCOS meal plan as simple as possible, is the key to make it a sustainable and doable meal plan. PCOS meal plan needs to be deigned based on your ethnic eating habits which are familiar with.You can include super foods which are not a part of your ethnic eating habits. However, major portion of your meals should be foods which you and your body is familiar with. This make sure that you don’t have to learn special or complex skills or recipes. If you have to start learning too many new skills in kitchen, this is where most people give up on meal plans. Also, designing a meal plan which is way out your comfort zone in also makes it less sustainable and less mentally acceptable to many women.
- Choose recipes which have less than five ingredients and take no more than 20 minutes of cooking time
- Choose one pot meals that are loaded with whole grains and veggies
- Keep it economical! You don’t have to go broke in order to manage your PCOS. Budget your monthly grocery and food expenses to keep your meal plans economical. Use those coupons, in store offers and sales to get value for money while you shop for groceries
4. Wholesome is the rule:
Every meal, be it breakfast, snack , lunch, evening snack or dinner; make sure to include wholesome ingredients. Organic, locally grown foods, super foods, whole foods and seasonal foods are the once which will help you get rid of PCOS.
5. Final steps for designing PCOS meal plan:
- Make a grocery shopping list with with all the healthy food that are available in your area.
- List down 7-8 each of breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner and healthy desert ideas. Find recipes which are easy and print them. Make a binder book of these recipes and keep them in your kitchen for easy reference.
- No meal plans work without planning! Every Saturday plan your next week meals based on your recipe book and your grocery list and stick to it.
These are some pointers that can help you get organized with your PCOS management. Remember it takes at least 90 days to form any good habit. Do not give up on your PCOS meal plan unless you have tried it word to word for three to four months.
To make your PCOS meal plan work , include a healthy exercise and Yoga routine to go with it. Also, see your doctor regularly in case your require medications and regular check ups.