5 Snacks to Kick PCOS right in its dumb face!

Hi there! This week I am sharing some info about something that has directly affected my life, PCOS. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder affecting 1 in 10 women. The exact cause is greatly unknown, but it does seem to have a genetic component. This syndrome can cause an irregular cycle, cysts on the ovaries, weight gain, hair loss and acne. It can also make it harder to lose weight, which is ironic, because that is the first thing a doctor will tell you to do when you are diagnosed. Even though it is hard to lose weight with PCOS, it is possible! I have lost 43 pounds since my diagnosis, entirely through changes in my diet and adding exercise. If it is possible for someone like me, who has PCOS and Hashimoto's Disease, it is possible for you!

pcos snacks dumb face

I was diagnosed 1 year ago with an ultrasound that showed many large cysts all over my ovaries, and a hormonal blood test. It was a very scary and confusing time for me. My doctors were very competent, but I still felt like I didn't understand what was really going on with my body. Over the last year I have read numerous articles, talked to a few different doctors, and changed the way I look at my body and my diet. Before we dive into exactly what this disorder entails, let me just say I am not a doctor, just a sufferer who wants to understand what is going on with my body, and in no way replaces the care and opinion of a doctor. I know how hard it can be, having so many obstacles in the way of being healthy, and I want to share what I have learned about PCOS for others who are suffering.

What is PCOS?

  • A female hormone disorder

  • It often disrupts normal ovulation and menstruation, resulting in a very irregular cycle

  • Ovaries become enlarged and cysts form around immature eggs ( in most cases , although some people can be diagnosed without the presence of these cysts )

  • It makes it harder for sufferers to conceive

  • Ovaries emit large quantity of androgens ( male hormones ) that cause acne, excess hair growth ( except for hair on the scalp ), hair loss ( on the scalp), and weight gain (specifically in the stomach )

  • While the causes of PCOS are widely unknown, there is a genetic component, if your Mother has it, you have a 50% chance of having it

  • There is no cure for PCOS, but maintaining a healthy weight and diet can greatly ease symptoms

  • Some medications include

    • Metformin, a diabetes drug that helps control blood sugar   levels

    • Birth Control, which suppresses ovarian function/excess androgens and restores normal menstruation

    • Clomid, which helps women trying to conceive to ovulate

    • Spironolactone,  reduces the amount of androgens in the blood resulting in a decrease of acne , excess hair growth, and hair loss.

  • Many people with PCOS are overweight and even obese

  • PCOS and Insulin resistance go hand in hand. Women with PCOS have cells that are less resistant to insulin, a hormone that tells our cells to absorb sugar, and therefore they cannot receive the sugar they need. The body then must secrete more insulin for the cells to absorb the sugar they need. Excess insulin is theorized to cause the disruption of normal ovarian function, resulting in excess androgen and lack of ovulation

  • Insulin Resistance can cause intense carbohydrate cravings and hypoglycemia

  • There is also a theory that low grade inflammation can be a factor PCOS

  • Women with PCOS are more likely to have another condition, be hospitalized, have heart disease, and stroke

  • 1 in 10 women have PCOS, and 50% go undiagnosed

Scary right? That is certainly what I thought when I first learned all of this. But the first step in easing symptoms from PCOS is to become informed about what is really going on in your body, and what changes you can make.

Diet can have a huge impact on those with PCOS, and the reason is because most women with PCOS are insulin resistant. Read on to learn more about blood sugar and insulin resistance.

How Blood Sugar works for most people

  • carbs = sugar

  • sugar = raised blood sugar levels

  • raised blood sugar = pancreas produces insulin

  • insulin = a hormone that tells our cells to absorb sugar for energy or storage

  • cell absorption of sugar = lowered blood sugar levels

  • low blood sugar = pancreas secretes glucagon

  • glucagon = liver starts releasing sugar

How Blood Sugar works for people with PCOS/ Insulin Resistance

  • carbs = sugar

  • sugar = raised blood sugar levels

  • raised blood sugar = pancreas produces insulin

  • insulin = a hormone that tells our cells to absorb sugar for energy or storage

  • cells are resistant to insulin = pancreas secretes even more insulin so the cells will absorb the sugar

  • excess insulin = oppressed ovarian function and symptoms of PCOS

  • cells finally have enough insulin to absorb sugar = lowered blood sugar

  • lowering blood sugar + excess insulin = hypoglycemia

  • lowered blood sugar = pancreas secretes glucagon

  • glucagon = liver starts releasing sugar

What does this all mean?

  • Diet is incredibly important to women with PCOS/ Insulin Resistance

  • A diet low in carbs/sugar helps to maintain blood sugar levels and a healthy weight, therefore helping with the symptoms of PCOS

  • Losing weight can reduce insulin resistance, but not cure it entirely

  • The more sugar you eat ( or the more sugar you eat at once ) the worse your insulin resistance will be because there is a direct correlation between how much sugar you eat and how much insulin your pancreas will secrete

  • To help control blood sugar a glycemic diet should be considered

  • If you have insulin resistance you should eat every 3-4 hours, which leads us to...

Snacking with PCOS!

  • Snacking helps maintain blood sugar and can keep those intense carb cravings at bay

  • All carb snacks should be avoided because they spike blood sugar and will not satisfy the appetite for very long

  • Pairing protein and carbohydrates is a great choice because it will satisfy your cravings and your hunger

  • In my opinion, unless it is a special occasion, it isn’t worth it to eat any carbohydrates/sugar unless that carb is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Fruits, Veggies, and (limited) Whole Grains are a better choice than processed sugars and carbohydrates (candy, pasta, etc)

and finally…

5 Snacks to Kick PCOS right in its dumb face