PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is an endocrine disorder. It causes hormonal imbalance, cysts in the ovaries and can lead to a lot of severe conditions, such as obesity, insulin resistance or Type II diabetes. It can also cause depression, mood swings, infertility, hypothyroidism and excessive, male-type hair-growth and adult acne and it also makes patients more prone to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the U.S., this disease affects 10% of women of reproductive age. While there is no cure for PCOS, it must be treated and living with it requires a certain lifestyle. Good news, though, that living a healthy life can improve PCOS symptoms. But what do actually need to live a quality life despite having such a complex and severe condition?
1. Choose The Right Food
In order to prevent insulin resistance and diabetes, PCOS patients have to follow a diet which is low in carbs and high in protein. It means that refined carbs – white flour and sugar – rice, potatoes, pasta and artificial sweeteners are not recommended, but vegetables, lean meat and fish are what you should eat instead. A golden rule is to avoid drinking your calories and carbs, so you should give up soda and juice if you are a PCOS patient. For the best food choices, talk to your doctor who can suggest a diet based on your condition. Fortunately, in our modern world, we have so many types of food that creating your new diet won’t be a problem.
2. Don’t Go Gluten-Free
Going gluten-free is trending nowadays and many of us think that following a gluten-free diet is the solution to our weight issues. But if you have PCOS, don’t choose this diet (unless you suffer from celiac disease as well). A gluten-free diet is high in carbs and low in fibres, so it’s the opposite of the diet you need if you are living with PCOS. If you have PCOS and celiac disease at the same time, make sure to consult with a specialist because that condition requires special care and medical attention.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a must if you have PCOS. Don’t expect PCOS to go away on its own or to lose weight merely by following a low-carb diet. Although the right food choices do help you lose some weight, nothing is as good as the combination of eating healthy and exercising regularly. Choose whatever sport you feel comfortable with and try to stick to doing it three times a week. Exercising doesn’t only help your body utilize the excess insulin in your blood, but it also improves your immune system and you will feel more energetic.
4. Schedule Regular Medical Check-Ups
Most women don’t get treatment until they are ready to start a family, if you suffer from PCOS, having yourself checked by a specialist is very important even if you don’t want children. Untreated PCOS can lead to a lot of severe conditions, but doctors can help you live a quality life, they can set the dosage of your medication, give you lifestyle advice or change your diet if necessary. Regular check-ups can help your prevent the consequences of this illness.
5. Take Care Of Your Mental Health
It’s never easy to change your lifestyle. The hardest thing about suffering from PCOS is that it’s a lifelong condition and it requires long-term – if not lifelong – changes in your lifestyle. The first few weeks of following a special diet and doing exercise can be hard and it’s easy to lose motivation, but keep in mind that you are doing it for your health. Whenever you experience hard times, think of the long-term consequences of the illness and what you can lose if you don’t stick to the new lifestyle. Also think about what you can win with some effort. Set short-term goals – such as losing a pound a week – and reward yourself if you succeed. Try to surround yourself with people who help you stay on the right path and motivate you on your journey. You need people who support you in what you need, and not what you want. (You might want that bar of chocolate, but you actually need to give it up.)
Having PCOS doesn’t necessarily mean suffering from it. Although sometimes it can be hard to live with, it can also push you further and make you stronger than you would ever imagine.