You can easily be overwhelmed by all the PCOS information and tips out there! But getting totally freaked out over which “tips” to latch on to isn’t helpful. It’s important to remember that just because one thing worked for your friend, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Caring for your PCOS can be a bit messy at times when you’re trying to figure out what works for you. Don’t fret–you will get there! I recommend that my clients keep things simple, take small steps, get curious about what works for them and what doesn’t, and move forward by learning. If you’re wondering where the heck to even begin (!!!), I hear you! These five simple tips are a great place to start!
Stop restricting and dieting! Why, you ask? Learn more about why dieting is harmful for PCOS here. Remember that nutrition doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Your body needs carbs (yes, carbs!), protein AND fat to function and support hormone balance. First, be sure you are fueling your body with enough nutrients consistently throughout the day with attention to hunger and fullness cues. Try including carbs/fiber, protein, and fat at mealtime, and a combination of them at snacks to promote hormone balance (ex: chicken+ sweet potato + broccoli + olive oil). Eating enough and consistently helps to stabilize blood sugar, avoid additional stress from dieting, and provides your body with needed energy to support body functions like hormone production and regulate your period.
Find exercise you enjoy.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to start an elaborate and strict exercise routine. Find simple ways to include movement that you enjoy. Think about what you can realistically add to your routine—maybe that’s a walk after dinner, morning yoga, or swimming on the weekend. There is no one-size-fits all approach to movement with PCOS. Some find more relaxing exercise like yoga is beneficial, while others enjoy high-intensity exercise (or maybe a combo!). Movement not only may improve your physical health, hormone balance, and insulin resistance, it improves your mental health, too. And with PCOS, depression and anxiety are very common, so focusing on mental health is important as well!
Stress and anxiety are not only mentally draining, they’re also taxing physically. It’s common to find stress hormones to be elevated with PCOS, furthering insulin resistance and inflammation. Finding ways to manage and reduce stress can assist with hormone balance in PCOS.
If you’re struggling with stress right now, assess the situation, see how you might reduce or remove the stressor if possible, and choose one or two coping strategies to start with and see what works best for you. You might consider meditation, prayer, a new routine, yoga, therapy, or even a total lifestyle change to manage/reduce stress.
Get enough sleep.
Catch plenty of zzzzz’s. If you’re not getting around 7-8 hours of sleep each night, this may be disrupting hormone balance. Lack of sleep can induce a stress response leading to further inflammation, and may affect glucose metabolism as well.
Try setting a bedtime routine, turning off electronics well before bedtime, creating favorable sleep conditions (like turning on a fan or getting a new pillow), and stop drinking caffeine late in the day.
Ditch the toxins.
Switch out household products that contain hormone-disrupting substances, like parabens, formaldehydes, fragrances, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, lead, BHA and BHT. For example, replace plastic containers with glass containers; choose environmentally friendly and toxin-free laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and body care products. Don’t worry—you don’t have to do this all at once. Start with one or two things, like one household product and one body care product. Make the switch and continue from there.
Again, just pick one or two steps to take at a time. See what works, learn, and move forward. Part of caring for your body with PCOS is learning to be intuitive and trust in it!
I help my clients take specific steps based on their individual needs, and support them through making changes. If you feel like you need more guidance and support, learn more about my 1:1 PCOS Nutrition Coaching Program here.