When you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (thereafter known as PCOS within this article), your biggest struggle after getting your diagnosis is managing your weight. Because no matter how frustrating it is, even after we are confirmed PCOS, weight loss and management is one of the biggest treatments for managing and regulating your hormone imbalance.
Sometimes, it's still a slap in the face when we finally get our diagnosis. We were right, our weight was a problem, and it wasn't really our fault. But, the doctor still gets to say: "Well. Lose weight... it'll get better." And we still feel like we're reaching out into the void for help that just doesn't seem to be there.
PCOS isn't something that's prioritized in the medical field in America, so we don't get a whole lot of information other than we should follow a pre-diabetic type diet. Like most other countries that ctually care about it's citizens, New Zealand said: "challenge accepted," and actually have a whole website on PCOS diet suggestions.
It's not just managing our blood sugars (though if you do have prediabetes or are diabetic, I strongly suggest keeping a strong tab on that, as that can help you discover which direction you need to go to lose weight and get a blood data book). For example, my sugars have a tendency to be low, rather than high, so insulin resistance isn't my issue, right?
Not to mention I have appetite issues. I have weight gain, but I can go days and not eat- simply because I forget. My body doesn't tell me I'm hungry - until I'm super hungry and my body suddenly is telling me I am ravenous and I am in the kitchen snarling at the cats as they watch me tear into a whole rotisserie chicken (this is an exaggeration by the way...I'm explaining a point not being literal- even though I do get hangry at that point from low blood sugars).
Overconsumption isn't my issue. When I stay dedicated and I truly eat the best way I have found for my body, it involves me eating 6 to 8 small little healthy meals a day. That is hard for me as I struggle with remembering to eat (I thankfully have a village in my house that helps me take care of myself). Some women with PCOS also have thyroid issues, which contribute to their health management. Some women with PCOS also do feel actual excessive hunger pains.
Most of us with PCOS feel bloaty, gassy, and crampy a lot after eating. Especially when we are failing to ovulate. We either go one way or another with our bowels, either we have IBS-like symptoms or we struggle to get that shit out (haha! Get it?).
Aren't endocrine imbalances just a basket of fun? You never know which symptoms you're going to get. Like reaching in and grabbing a handful of assorted Halloween candy, am I right? So I started thinking about my symptoms of PCOS, and how combining different things should help me succeed.
For Cookiemonster's sake, I spent a year in bariatric prep and had 90% of my stomach cut out to fight against my body. So, I expressed my concerns to my doctor, and she suggested that I not only apply the rules of bariatric surgery patients but also hyper-focus on my gut health.
When we talk about gut health, there are a lot of prebiotic, probiotic yadda yadda. I'll let my linked articles explain. The basics of what you need to know is that about 70 to 80 percent of our overall health comes from our gut. Our gut could be the cause of so many issues that quite frankly - I'm not sure why doctors don't talk about gut health more with obese patients who are struggling to lose weight.
Poor gut health could lead to insomnia, poor immune issues, and eventually autoimmune disorders, and hormonal imbalances... Listen. I'm sold. Gut health. Got it. The great thing about improving gut health is you can mostly do it naturally. Literally, it's as simple as what you are putting into your body.
Now hear me when I say: Not all of us have weight issues because we eat too much. But I can absolutely promise that those of us who don't eat properly whether it's too much or too little, we probably aren't eating good food for us. Especially if we've been fighting the weight loss battle for a long time and have given up trying to be healthy (you know who you are - c'mon time to get back on track ladies!).
So, what is gut health? It is your GI Track. What's your GI Track? so eloquently put by Cleveland Clinic....
Composed of a series of connected hollow organs that run from your mouth to your anus (think of it like a long tube), it includes your esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
So your gut health is the health your body promotes from the moment food goes into your mouth, down your throat, and out your butt. Yummy, right? It involves good bacteria that fight the bad, and ... well. I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist. So again, I'm gonna let Cleveland Medical tell you the details about gut health, because while I understand the medical jargon - I'm not going to bore you.
Most of my PCOS symptoms and bad gut health are quite in common. And diet can help manage PCOS symptoms anyway. And most of these issues could be solved naturally by literally just taking care of myself and getting creative with my food. So I focus on the two. I have a breakdown of what successfully helps me lose weight (I've been told being sick or stressed doesn't count in weight-loss because it's not 'healthy-loss.' I say ... phewy) in the healthy way.
I focus on my gut health.
What do I mean when I say I focus on my gut health? I mean I eat specifically when I eat - and I try not to splurge on the foods that are classified as typical 'health conscious no-nos.'
I eat fermented food every week, such as sauerkraut (listen, you can make this taste good! PROMISE), and pickled ginger (I'll use any excuse to eat sushi anyway). I also try to keep small little things of yogurt on hand. Thankfully, my kids have picked up a love of yogurt, so good eating habits are forming. One of these days I'm going to try that kombucha in my fridge. I'm nervous about it.
I also eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruit. According to Cleveland Clinic some really smart Gastro doctor dude says having a diet that has a rainbow in it promotes good gut health because of the variety of vitamins you'll gain from eating the rainbow (we're talking veggies people, not Skittles) and the insoluble and soluble fiber in them. Which can help you poop. Just so you know.
I also avoid pasta and starch-heavy foods (luckily sweet potatoes and potatoes are okay), and when I eat pasta and breads, I make sure it's whole grain which is much better for our gut than the cheap processed stuff. I have even replaced pasta with my alfredo recipes with spaghetti squash.
I also avoid red meats for the most part - and only indulge in a yummy fat steak for special occasions.
I avoid precooked, preprocessed foods. No shortcuts in this household. It's all cooked from scratch 88% of the time. Preservatives are a secret-killing bitch.
And I get creative in the kitchen for the family. Listen, if I have to eat healthy, so does my problem-having family. Diabetes, cancer, auto-immune diseases, gastric-issues, allergies. Everyone's eating healthy because I need my family to live as long as I do, so it's up to me to put effort into researching meals that are good for all of us but also keep us happy. I have literal halfings in my house, or maybe they're hobbits. There's no lie, we all love our food in this house, and good food makes us happy. We try to make healthy choices and put some pizazz in our healthy food.
I stay relatively active.
In the spring and summer, I'll admit, I'm much more active. I love to garden, and I am at my peak when the veggies are growing in the tires. I also do yoga and tend to have more energy during this time of year. Winter drags me down, and usually right when fall is ending and winter is kicking in, my dark moon habits kick in again. The cold and dark drag me down, and I have a hard time taking care of myself.
Part of knowing my flaws is working on it though. I can't improve it if I deny it. And again, I am blessed with a wonderful support network in my home with my family.
I try to eat at least 5 small meals a day. 8 is the real goal, but that's a lot for me.
Okay. I'm not going to lie. This is what I should be doing. Right now, I'm proud of myself if I eat twice a day. I can't eat a lot at a time anyway, but my body doesn't give me signals that I need to eat. So I tend to forget, especially if I'm working or busy with the kids.
When I eat properly 5 to 8 very small meals a day, I feel like I am grazing and eating all day. To me, eating is laborious, so when I eat that many times I feel like all I've done all day is eat. But, my body freaking loves it. It's a struggle - and make sure you are being conscious of your attitude and thought process when you are eating. In order to change bad eating habits into good ones, the process needs to be surrounded by positive thinking and reinforcement.
I am thinking about starting an intermittent fasting thing.
But that's going to require research. I have caught up on the rage of this, but I've heard it's pretty good for some people. I'll have to write about it if I decide this is something women like me might benefit from.
Let me know in the comments if you have any experience with this!
Other Articles In My PCOS Series:
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