Weight Loss Diet During Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

by Bhawana on June 16, 2011 · 48 comments

How to battle PCOS weight with dietary changes

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that affects almost 1 in every 10 women. In this condition, the ovaries develop several small cysts resulting in an abnormality of hormones leading to all sorts of problems such as (but not limited to) acne, hirsutism, weight gain, hair loss, irregular menses, infertility, etc. Even though this condition is not life threatening, it is extremely traumatic for the patient.

I was diagnosed with a severe case of PCOS when I was in my early 20s. All throughout my childhood, I suffered from a severe inferiority complex leading from all the symptoms I mentioned above but nothing was more depressing that being grossly overweight. No matter how little I ate or how much I dieted, I could not shed off those kilos and was the butt of jokes everywhere.

woman

woman


Research shows that it is increasingly difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight and to keep it off. In addition to our genetic predisposition to pile on the pounds, we have multiple hormone disorders to deal with. One of these is “insulin resistance.” Insulin is best known for its ability to store blood sugar or glucose into our cells. PCOS women with weight issues usually have higher insulin levels and tend to have a condition called “insulin resistance”. This means that the insulin in our bodies cannot work efficiently requiring very high levels of insulin to get blood sugar stored in our cells. This condition leads us to retain fat weight and is related with obesity and diabetes. Weight loss has been the major recommendation for women with PCOS. Research shows that even a 5% decrease in total body weight helps in reducing the insulin levels, increase fertility rates, reduce hirsutism and acne and lower testosterone levels.

After being diagnosed with this disorder, I started to read more and more about it and found that women with PCOS especially find it extremely hard to lose weight. We cannot lax even for a couple of meals – everything we consume seems to pile up in the form of fat.

Every time I used to visit my gynae, I was bombarded with the same advice of eating healthy and losing weight. No one seemed to understand that I was trying to but nothing seemed to work.

Since this condition cannot be cured, I knew that sticking to those rigid diets (low carbs, atkins, raw diets etc. etc.) was not going to work. Every time I got off a diet, there was a chance that all the weight I had lost would come back with a vengeance. Also, the thought of sacrificing food (one of my loves :)) was scary.

After years of struggle, I finally managed to drop quite a few kilos and today I stand at a healthy BMI of 22.5. I have stood at this weight for more than 8 years now and fortunately, I don’t feel any pressure or cravings to go back to my earlier lifestyle. This blog will list some of the ways I have used to eat healthy – without sacrificing on the flavor or the quantity of food. I must add here that losing stubborn weight and more importantly, maintaining that ideal weight is a two pronged effort. Just eating healthy without any form of exercise will not produce desired results. Besides making dietary modifications, it is also imperative that we inculcate at least some form of activity in our daily regimen.

Here are a few tips that women like me suffering from PCOS might find useful:
• First of all, being aware that everything that we put inside our mouth has calories. We spend so much of our time in the kitchen that we don’t even know how many calories we have consumed just while nibbling on things. I think awareness is the first step to battling weight.
• Just making small modifications to the meals/drinks you have in a day will help tremendously. I used to have 2 cups of tea a day. I have substituted a cup with a mug of green tea – not only is green tea immensely beneficial but I also save on the calories of the sugar in the tea!

dilmah

dilmah

• Replacing refined flours, breads, pasta with their less refined versions (whole wheat breads, multi grain breads, whole wheat pasta, multi grain flours, whole wheat cereals etc.). We are fortunate enough to be living in times where whole grain versions of our favorite foods are available. Not only has their flavor improved multifold in the last few years, but also the choices are wide and varied. I remember the time when just the thought of having brown rice for lunch or dinner used to ruin my appetite. It used to be so coarse and thick but there are brands available in the market today that taste so much similar to the regular rice but fill you up quickly and are really good for us.

picture

picture

• Having as many natural ingredients as possible. Replacing processed carbs with wholesome ingredients and fresh fruits and veggies can help in reducing our insulin response. Good ways to increase veggies intake is pav bhaji (with as little oil or butter as possible), pasta (you can add as many veggies as you like and chances are no one will complain much), soups, salads, etc.
• I am fortunate enough to not have a huge sweet tooth but there are times, when only something sweet will do. Try replacing sugar with sugar substitutes. I personally don’t find any difference in taste, it does the job and saves me a bunch of calories throughout the day.
• Also try having whole fruits instead of fruit juices. Canned fruit juices are a complete no for us since they contain insane amounts of sugars and preservatives that I think these do more harm than good. As much as possible, I try to eat fruits in their natural form and refrain from juicing them even at home. Most of us add sugars in our juices and that’s piling up calories unnecessarily. Another flaw in juicing a fruit is getting rid of all its fiber.

vegetables

vegetables

• Try using as little oil as possible. Just as an experiment, I cut down my use of oil by 2/3rds while preparing the usual meal of sabzi and dal and to my pleasant surprise, no one in my family complained about the taste at all. I just feel that we use way more oil and ghee than is actually required. Try using less and less everytime you prepare the dishes and I am sure it will not taste too different.
• As with sugar, we can also replace the full fat butter with a healthier alternative. I avoid using butter too much but if it’s absolutely necessary, I opt for Nutralite rather than the regular butter. The one great thing about healthier alternatives is that they taste quite similar to the original versions.
• Replace full fat dairy products with skimmed versions. A cup of whole milk contains about 150 calories compared to 85 calories of the non fat milk. Apart for the taste (for some people who might like the richer, creamier flavor of whole milk), even the calcium content is similar in both. Just remember that especially for us with PCOS, every little bit helps!
• There are a lot of recipes that call for cheese. You might leave it out completely but there are times, when you need to have cheese. For such times, I go for the low calorie cheese slices available in the market. I like Britannia’s Slimz Cheese Slices which have 33% less fat than regular cheeses.
• Do not fry veggies before preparing them in gravies. One of the most common ones I see is frying paneer before putting in the gravy. Not only are we consuming too many calories, frying robs the vegetables of their natural goodness as well.
• Frying is not a friend in our quest to lose weight. Instead, try sautéing, baking, roasting and other alternatives for frying. For e.g.: Instead of a regular deep fried bhatura to along my chhole, I cook the bhatura as I would a regular chapatti. To add flavor, I add dhaniya leaves, salt, red chilly powder to the dough and it actually tastes really good!
• One of the main ways we tend to pile up calories is by snacking. To quell those hunger pangs, opt for healthier, tastier alternatives such as making a bowl of soup. I feel light clear soups are the best ways to fill myself up until the main meal is served. Another word of caution is to stay far away as possible from creamy or heavy soups. They contain insane amounts of calories and fat. I prefer making my soups at home. They hardly take more than a few minutes and I know what’s going in them rather than having something from a packet or a can where I have absolutely no control over the ingredients. One of my favorites is a simple Chinese soup with the goodness of different vegetables. The best part, however is that is takes almost no time to make at all.
• Another trick to infuse more flavor in our food without adding on the calories in using veg/chicken stock. The thing that makes me stay motivated to my diet is if I know what I am eating is going to be tasty. I prefer to make my stocks at home. These are super simple to make and are absolutely delicious with almost no calories. A bowl of soup goes to a whole different level when you add a cup of stock instead of the regular water!
• Get rid of all biscuits, cookies, other snacks. These have no nutrition and contain too many calories. It is also very easy to have a whole packet of Kurkure’s without even realizing that you’ve just consumed more calories than your whole lunch/dinner! I follow the simple mantra: if I don’t see something in front of my eyes, I won’t be tempted to dig into it.
• For snacking purposes, keep nuts on hand. Again, be very discrete with how much you are consuming. A handful of nuts (8-10 pcs, either raw or slightly roasted) are great to tie one up before the meal. They are really filling and very good for you. I like almonds as they are considered to be the natural fat burning food. Not only are they good for skin and hair, but are also amazing in fighting cholesterol and for brain development. Even though nuts are great for us, they contain high amounts of calories so no more than 8-10 a day!

• Another tip is the choice of cookware. A non stick pan is great for cooking everyday meals. It uses very little oil inspite of which there’s no risk of burning your food. I have noticed that my use of cooking fat has reduced drastically ever since I switched to non stick cookware!
• This list can go on and on but I think to wrap it up here, the most important way to cut down those calories is to reduce the number of times you eat out. Every time, I come back from a restaurant, I feel extremely guilty that all my hard work of the week has gone down the drain due to one meal laden in oil, butter, cream and not so good for you ingredients. Having said that, once in a while, we do need to go out for a change. For those times, I would suggest choosing healthier dishes from the menu. A plain tandoori roti is a much better option than choosing a butter naan. Similarly avoid dishes with “butter” or “makhani” in them! I normally order a salad (not the creamy ones though) before my main meal so that I don’t consume too much of that gravy or bread. In a lot of restaurants today, you can actually ask the waiters to suggest low fat or low oil recipes or even modify the recipes according to your preference.

I hope some of these tips help you stay motivated to lose all that weight without having to resort to strict, tasteless diets. Not only for us who have PCOS but for all women who are in charge of the kitchens at home, I feel it’s our duty to make sure our families are eating healthy. Incorporating a few dietary changes goes a long way in ensuring a much healthier lifestyle.

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Also Read:
Weight Loss WIth Fruit Diet
How to Lose Weight in 4 Weeks- Diet Chart for Weight Loss

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

fahee June 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

a good go bhawana :cheers: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :star: :dazed:

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

shukriya:)

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calicoaster June 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

This is a very informative article..good one Bhawna!! :)

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

thanks cali!

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jomol June 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Bhawana…good write-up….even my doctor had pointed out that diet plays an important role in controlling and preventing PCOD

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

it was ur article on PCOD which prompted me to write this! thanks to u too!

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rachana June 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Very nice article Bhawana , Thanks for writing this article this means so much to all ladies who are battling to reduce weight without having co-operation from their harmones ….. and this is my sincerer advice to all the ladies suffering fom PCOS or PCOD pls read the book “women and the weight loss tamasha” by rujuta diwekar….

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

thx for the book tip…will def. check it out!

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Tommy June 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm

i luv this article bhawana……. gud one…. and ur ‘out of sight out of mind’ technique is really an eye opener…..coz me too a foodie….
and i wud really like to kno the recipe of ur chinese soup :D !!

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

will def. make a blog on the soup the next time i make it….it doesn’t take more than a couple of mins :)

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Somreeta Mukherjee June 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

hey bhawana! i have a frnd who has this prob! gonna refer this one to her :) well written

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

hope it helps her!

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bhumika June 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

nice tips bhawana… :thumbsup:

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

thank u!

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dipti June 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Great article Bhawana
My SIL was also started putting weight after marriage. When she found that she is not able to conceive after 3 yrs, went to doctor and diagnosed with PCOS. She had the medication and now 7 months pregnant. I am definately forwarding her this link so that she can take care of herself after delivering baby.

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

can u let me know which med she was put on? it’d be a great help! thanks!

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dipti June 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Sure I will check with her and let u know ASAP

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Pooja_G June 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Very informative post Bhawana..I know of many friends who r suffering from this…thanks for sharing :)

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

hope this helps ur friends!

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ramya June 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

very informative and thoughtful article Bhawana….. most of the steps will be useful for everyone…. PCOS or not :) :waytogo: :waytogo:

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

thx everyone…glad it helped!

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Uzma June 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Nice write up Bhawana :yes: Reading personal experiences always motives me to do things that I’m lazy to do :))

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm

thanks uzma!

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Teena June 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Bhawna, this is a great article and worth sharing! :thanks:

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm

thank u:)

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Piyu June 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm

nice article bhawana!!! i was in desperate need of this… :thanks: :thanks: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm

thanks piyu:))

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Rekha June 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Nice Article Bhawna.. I too suffer with PCOS disorder and I know how painful it is to loose weight :( and the advice from gynae.. I totally agree.. even last week my gynae was giving me lot of advice as if I don’t care for my health :( Anyways thanks for the write up!

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

thanks rekha!

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Rentu June 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm

great article Bhawna

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Bhawana June 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

thanks!

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pia June 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

thanks for this article bhawana.. I too suffer from pcod.. Have put on so much weight in the last 6 mths n it is so so so so difficult to lose even one kilo :(

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Supriya June 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

hi bhawana i have pcod too. and my gyn has told me not to let even one kg of my weight increase, plus be twice as careful with wat i eat. i think sugar substitutes are just too much chemicals for

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Supriya June 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm

a pcod person. another thing is yoga, it really helps. if you must have something sweet have dry fruits. they give you minerals and sugar , and healthy sugars at that. another tip that i swear by is to drink green tea 15 mins before my meal time, this way i do not binge. my tummy feels full. and plus green tea’s oxidants help.

i literally ration my food and people think i am figure conscious , but they do not realise where the paranoia stems from.

sorry got posted half an half.

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Bhawana June 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

hi supriya…if u can really avoid having whole sugars, then great! i personally can do without sugar altogether since i dont have a sweet tooth…but there are so many of us who crave sweets once in a while…for them, its actually not bad to substitute sugar with sugar subs…the latter have been perceived to be harmful but research shows they actually are not….obviously this does not mean u have them day in and day out but in recipes that call for a lot of sweetness, using these subs actually help….glad u have found a good way to stop the sugar cravings! anything and everything helps!

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Bee June 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm

A very well written article Bhawana :D

even im suffering from PCOS. and overweight too. the gym ppl many times cancelled my membership because I used to be sick and in periods for 20 days or so :((
I started with Diane 35 a year and half back and since then at least the menses are bearable- also I worked out at home and with portion control and stuff lost 10 kgs :) but after marrtiage my last 1 year has been overly lazy. heheeh so I gained back :((
now again Im on portion control and a little workout. actually my doc just said instead of being tensed just be positive about it and be positive towards your life! enjoy everything you do and be active- a lifestyle change is the only answer :D

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radhika June 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

hi bhawna wonderful article….. ;-)
i got pcod too
are you from mumbai?
if yes could you tell me which gynecologist do you go to>?

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Bhawana June 26, 2011 at 11:27 am

send me ur email id radhika…let rati know and she will fwd it to me…i will send u all the details:)

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radhika June 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

oh and what is veg/non veg stock? could you tell me how to make it and use it in soups?
n which soups you consume?

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radhika June 17, 2011 at 12:10 am

ok please share recipes ……….
cos i wana avoid chapatis……….and my mom cooks n its like from my childhood i have been eating chapatis every day……..but i am really trying to avoid chapatis n rice….infact i no more crave for sabzi,chapati,rice. :yuck:
can you give me the recipes of soups and salads and everytihng you consume… cos i try to find some recipes but land up at all the american dishes n salads which mention some ingredients that are not even available in india……….so please help! :weep:
and about exercise………….what do you do??????? :struggle:

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Bhawana June 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

as for exercise, i follow shilpa shetty’s yoga dvd…it takes me about an hour to get through all the exercises and i cant tell u how fit i feel…not only have i lost weight, i feel great and agile from within! do write me an email!

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Archana July 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Very useful, thanks:)

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priyanka November 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

Thanks bhawna even i have pcos prob and even i love food a lot and i hope this article of ur will surely find me a solution of my prob thanks again

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Nikhat October 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hey bhawana!!!
Im 23..n have been suffering from pcod snc I was 20..I am 163cm tall and weigh 76kgs. I go to gym but
No results..my tummy is like a balloon..bloating.
Can anyone help me with this plz

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Swati July 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

hi !! thanks for ur article :) i have pcos n im struggling to loose weight. i wanted to know howmuch was ur weight and in hwmuch time did u loose those extra kilos ? Alsp,can we have singh (peanuts) and channa ?

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harnoor July 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm

i too have pcos problem n struggling to loose weight and having acne problems .. very helpful article
can anyone plz suggest about medications n gud doctor ?
really need help :’(

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deepika July 30, 2014 at 2:25 am

thanks for sharing this information. I am too suffering from this problem from last 4 years. I went to many docters and took a lot of medicines but of no use. Also tried gym , but even that didnt help, girls with PCOD and PCOS should not do weights . I completely agree with you on the diet you gave. Would suggest also for yoga it was very helpfull for me.

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dhara August 7, 2014 at 12:15 am

Hi bhawna,
I m suffering from pcos and insulin resistance along with thyroid.
I m taking medicines for insulin resistance since 4 months,but I m still not loosing weight inspite of regular and rigorous workout and proper diet
If u have been beniffited by any doctor,then pls refer his name to me.
I m very depressed .pls help.

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