Puberty and the changes that happen can be difficult to manage for a lot of girls. Though it is a natural and beautiful process, there are health concerns affecting periods, fertility and body-image issues. A major health issue that’s seeing a steady rise in numbers among Indian women is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Education about the polycystic ovary syndrome diet is the need of the hour.

Did You Know?

According to the PCOS Society of India, 1 in 10 Indian women suffer from the condition. What’s more shocking is that a large percentage of these females are teenagers. Poor lifestyle habits are to be blamed for this surge as 80% of PCOS patients are obese.

Major Causes Of PCOS

What causes PCOS are the high levels of the male hormones (androgens) in a female body. Although a female body is expected to produce a small amount of androgens, when they are overproduced, they result in cysts in the ovaries. The ovaries are female reproductive parts that release eggs each month and produce hormones that control the menstrual cycle. In a healthy female body, ovaries release an egg each month. However, in the case of women with PCOS, the cysts contain immature eggs which cannot cause ovulation. This is the reason why women with PCOS experience irregular or no periods.

8 Common Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Symptoms Of PCOS
  • Irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Excessive facial hair
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Pelvic pain 
  • Acne 
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Mood swings

Major Causes Of PCOS In Women

Causes Of PCOS In Women

1. Hereditary: Research has proven that PCOS can be carried forward in a family through genes. If there is a history of PCOS in your family, you are at a higher risk of getting it.

2. Medical: Women with insulin resistance are more prone to having PCOS. Insulin is the hormone that causes the body to use the energy obtained from the consumption of sugar.  When a body cannot break down the sugar, the pancreas is forced to produce higher levels of insulin, which is a cause for ovaries producing more male hormones (androgens).

3. Lifestyle-Related: PCOS is more common among overweight women. The excessive weight could be a result of insulin resistance or an unhealthy lifestyle. The excessive consumption of simple sugars can hamper effective insulin management in the body, leading to PCOS.

Medication For PCOS

How To Treat PCOS

Although there is no medical cure for PCOS, there are ways in which women can control and even reverse the effects of the condition. Using birth control pills helps women regulate their menstrual cycles to quite an extent and doctors also prescribe some supplements to some women in an attempt to regulate their hormones. However, these measures only help in dealing with the effects of PCOS. Reversing PCOS can happen through weight management and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Since PCOS is so closely related to insulin management, following a PCOS diet plan that regulates the insulin in the body is a primary step in the treatment of PCOS.

Food & PCOS

The PCOS diet mainly aims at the consumption of foods that prevent a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. Along with eating the right food, the women with PCOS are also advised to exercise regularly in order to shed the extra weight, which in turn can improve the symptoms of PCOS. The first step towards battling PCOS through a diet is to be able to differentiate between the best foods for PCOS and the foods to avoid with PCOS.

There are also some ground rules that one needs to keep in mind while adopting the polycystic ovary syndrome diet. They need to understand that following a PCOS diet plan is a lifestyle change and not just an alteration in the food one chooses to eat. Everything that goes into the body can either help it reverse the effects of PCOS or aggravate them. Consistency in following the PCOS diet plan to lose weight will gradually help the woman completely get rid of PCOS.

Doctors advise that eating foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can work wonders in improving the effects of PCOS. Such foods take time to get absorbed in the body and do not shoot up the insulin levels like many of the simple carbohydrates do. A PCOS diet does not forbid the individual from eating all carbohydrates. It is crucial to eat the correct carbohydrates in the correct proportion. 

Best Foods For PCOS

Foods To Have With PCOS
  1. Fresh fruits like apples, pears, kiwi, orange and bananas (especially berries).
  2. Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.
  3. Good fats in the form of avocados, coconut oil, olive oil and dark chocolate.
  4. High protein foods like beans, lean meat, fish and eggs.
  5. Spices such as cinnamon, ginger, garlic and turmeric.
  6. Herbal teas like green tea and spearmint tea.

Foods To Avoid With PCOS

Foods To Avoid With PCOS
  1. Processed foods that make use of refined flour (maida). This includes almost all the bakery items such as bread, pastries, doughnuts, mithai and cookies.
  2. High-calorie foods like fried food and fast food.
  3. Sugary and aerated drinks.
  4. Red meat and processed meat like sausages, hot dogs and cold cuts.
  5. Vegetables that are high on starch like potatoes, corn and peas.
  6. Cornflour and corn syrup.

PCOS Diet Chart

PCOS Diet Plan

One must note that a PCOS diet has to be backed by the information on how much to eat. Since weight loss is such an essential part of dealing with PCOS, we need an elaborate polycystic ovary syndrome diet plan that can enable the women suffering from PCOS not only to lose the excess weight but also improve the insulin resistance in their bodies. The aim is to formulate a PCOS diet chart that does not compromise on nutrition or lead to starvation. Since dealing with PCOS is a long time commitment, the PCOS diet plan to lose weight has to be sustainable in order to help women incorporate the dietary changes in their everyday routine and make them a part of their lifestyle.

Sample Diet Chart for PCOS

Here’s a simple yet effective diet plan for you to follow. The meals are filling and nutritious, and perfectly apt for women with PCOS.

Early MorningBreakfastLunchEvening SnackDinnerBedtime
8-10 almonds/walnuts OR
1 fruit (of your choice) 
OR
10ml amla / wheatgrass juice
with 4-6 almonds / walnuts OR
1 cup cinnamon (dalchini) tea with 4-6 almonds/walnuts OR
1 glass green juice made with bottle gourd (dudhi), lemon, ginger, cucumber and mint (pudina
OR
100ml of low-fat milk
2 Idlis with chutney & sambar
OR
1 paneer sandwich
OR
1 paratha with low-fat yoghurt
OR
1 bowl of poha
OR
1 bowl of rawa / oats upma
OR
1 bowl of oats porridge (made with low-fat milk)
2 small rotis with dal & sabji
OR
1 cup brown rice vegetable pulao with raita
OR
1 cup brown rice with chicken / egg curry
OR
2 jowar rotis with sabji
OR
1 bowl chicken soup with vegetable salad
1 glass buttermilk made with low-fat yoghurt
OR
1 small bowl of bhel
OR
1 bowl of mixed fruits
OR
2 egg whites
OR
1 bowl of sprouts salad
1 roti with vegetable & yoghurt
OR
1 bowl vegetable soup
OR
1 bowl of brown rice with chicken / fish (50gms) & vegetable salad
OR
100gms grilled chicken / fish with sautéed vegetables OR
1 roti with fish / chicken curry or dal OR
2 whole egg omelette with vegetables
1 cup of green tea/cinnamon (dalchini) tea
Meal Plan For PCOS

PCOS is a condition that affects a woman physically, emotionally and psychologically. But it can be controlled effectively with lifestyle-improving habits. Regular monitoring of weight, insulin levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep patterns and menstrual cycles is an effective way of identifying the progress made. Keeping stress at bay with yoga and other meditation techniques can help women deal with their symptoms and create a healthy body, mind and soul.

Heena Paryani
Heena Paryani

Heena Paryani is an Operations Executive with a passion for teaching, jewellery designing, EXIM trade and writing. This Mumbaikar-at-heart is a wanderlust who enjoys cooking and sampling new cuisines.