The Pataudi granddaughter arrived in Bollywood and charmed us all. Sara Ali Khan is a fresh breath of air because of her wits, Nawabi grace, forever folded hands in namaste, and lively personality. She debuted in Kedarnath alongside Sushant Singh Rajput and matched Ranveer Singh’s energy on-screen in Simmba. But what made her relatable and the girl-who-could-be-you was her weight loss journey and fight with PCOS. She was easily one of the first Bollywood actresses to come out and talk about PCOS on national TV at the Koffee with Karan show.

Today, on her birthday, we would be remiss to not use this moment as an opportunity to talk about this problem that affects 1 in 5 Indian women (20%). Like Sara pointed out, PCOS can cause accelerated weight gain that is very difficult to shake off. She still posts her pre and post-weight loss pictures in humour, often titled Sara ka Sara and Sara ka Aadha. Addressing the issue with confidence and normalising it has inspired many women to discuss their PCOS/PCOD struggles openly.

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Episode 2: From Sara ka Sara to Sara ka aadha 🎃

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Sara’s Weight Loss Journey: Sara ka Sara to Sara ka Aadha

What Exactly Is PCOS/PCOD?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Disease (PCOD) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Since this is a chronic condition which affects a woman’s hormone levels, it causes you to skip periods or not get any periods at all. This condition further makes it difficult for women to get pregnant.

What Are Some Common Symptoms Of PCOS?

  • Hormonal acne
  • Excess weight gain or loss
  • Irregular or no menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Excessive facial hair
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Pelvic pain
  • Mood swings

How Sara Ali Khan Manages PCOS & Brought Her Weight Down From 96kgs

Shedding 30 kilos with PCOS is a difficult task and she did it with determination. “I had PCOS. I still do. And because of that, I think I put on the amount of weight that I did.”, said Sara. She also said that even though her eating habits weren’t the best (lots of Pizzas), PCOS made it even harder to lose weight.

Sara follows a high-protein diet focused on good carbs and high fibre. Her breakfast usually includes egg whites and toast, or idlis. For lunch and dinner, she sticks to the basics with chapatis, dal, a vegetable and lots of salad greens. Lunch and workout snacks often include upma, muesli, oats, fruits, grilled tofu, lentils, and more salad greens.

Also, with PCOS, it is very important to improve your insulin resistance and metabolism. Sara works out every day diligently and does a mix of routines so that she’s never bored. From Pilates and running on the treadmill to bootcamp training and strength and body conditioning movements, the actress is often posting her workout routines on social media. If you’re looking to be inspired, just check out this video.

Sara’s #Determined Workout Routine

How Can You Manage PCOS?

It usually manifests in women in the ages of 12-45 and lasts your entire life. But that certainly doesn’t mean you have to give up and do nothing. You too, like Sara, can take control and manage the symptoms with the right tips and advice. PCOS management is largely about the right diet and a tailored workout plan.

Food & PCOS: The Age-Old Story

With PCOS, the body becomes insulin-resistant. Since insulin helps the body to use up glucose for energy, its lack triggers more demand. The pancreas has to work overtime to produce more insulin. As a side-effect of higher insulin, the ovaries produce more androgens, worsening the symptoms of PCOS.

The PCOS diet mainly aims at the consumption of foods that prevent a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels.

Foods Good For PCOS

Lighter, healthier foods are a rule of thumb in a PCOS diet. They should have a low-sugar content and should be rich in fibre. These include:

1. Fibrous food

High-fibre content in food slows down digestion and the harmful effects of higher insulin in the blood. It can be obtained through:

  • Green vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce)
  • Peppers (green, red)
  • Beans, lentils (dal)
  • Fleshy vegetables (pumpkin, squash, sweet potato)
  • Dry fruits

2. Protein

As long the protein is lean, it can be consumed on a PCOS diet. They are very filling and provide a healthy source of protein.

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Tofu

3. Foods That Reduce Inflammation

They will help you feel less bloated, lighter and more energised.

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Strawberries, blueberries

4. Nutritious Seeds

They help to keep your hormones under control and their consumption should be limited to 20 mg a day.

  • Flax seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Food To Avoid In PCOS

Processed, fried, high-carb, high-sugar foods are a big no for women with PCOS.

1. Refined High-Carbohydrate Food

They cause inflammation and increase insulin resistance, which can worsen PCOS symptoms.

  • White bread
  • Muffin
  • Pasta made with wheat flour

2. High-Sugar Food

With already high insulin levels in the body, sugar intake should be severely limited. So, the following foods should be avoided

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Desserts

3. Processed Red Meat

Studies suggest that red meat consumption can contribute to infertility. Since it is already a risk with PCOS, it is best to avoid:

  • Sausages
  • Hamburgers
  • Steak
  • Pork

4. Full-Fat Dairy Products

It has saturated fats which can raise cholesterol and calorie intake, contributing to weight gain. So, dairy should definitely make it to the list of foods to avoid in PCOS.

5. Deep-Fried Foods

Preservatives and high-carb, sugar content in fried food is the worst combination for someone dealing with PCOS.

A Complete Diet Plan For PCOS

Wake-Up DrinkIn 250 ml water, grate some gooseberries (amla), add mint (pudina) leaves and a pinch of cinnamon (dalchini). Drink this first thing in the morning as a detoxifying drink that helps to balance hormone levels.
Early SnackHave a handful of soaked almonds or some toasted seeds. 
BreakfastStart with a bowl of fresh, fibrous fruits that will energise you.
Then opt for a multigrain vegetable sandwich or multigrain rotis, with veggies cooked in olive oil.
Cereals like oats, muesli, barley, quinoa and whole-wheat porridge can also be had with nut milk (almond milk, soy milk).
Eggs with a side of veggies is another healthy breakfast option.
Avoid chai or coffee with milk. Have green tea instead.
Lunch
This meal of the day should be filling yet light, so you don’t feel bloated and power through your day at home, work or school.
Multigrain rotis with curd and sliced cucumbers.
Chicken or fish, cooked in olive oil with a small salad.
 Leafy, fresh salad with veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Remember to avoid street food, like pav bhaji or chole bhature for lunch. They are deep-fried, high on carbs and sugar and have very little nutritional value.
Evening SnackChoose popcorn or puffed rice (mura/laiya) over chips as they are healthier and lighter.
Have another green tea, or a back coffee or tea.
Roasted peanuts or seeds, spiced with chaat masala and a pinch of chilli powder make for a great snack, Make sure you don’t use lots of salt here.
Dinner
Sound sleep is necessary for the overall health of the body, including weight and mood management. So make sure you have your dinner between 7-8 pm and make it healthy.
Minding your protein intake for the day, you can have fish, chicken or tofu. You can cook a light Indian curry or have a continental meal with a side salad.
Go for brown rice, if you must have it.
Multigrain or bran rotis should be preferred over whole-wheat ones.
For dessert, you can have dairy-free ice-cream, which is low in sugar or a few pieces of dark chocolate.

Though daunting, PCOS can be managed with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Just like Sara, you too can shed those extra kilos and stay happy and healthy. Let us know in the comment below what’s your PCOS regime like.

Srushti Pathak
Srushti Pathak

A blogger, aspiring author and old soul at heart, Srushti Pathak believes in writing stories that touch the heart. She maintains that curiosity defines her zeal for writing and creativity in all spheres of life motivates her.