Are you wanting to learn about meal planning and meal prepping with PCOS? Both tools allow those with PCOS to prepare for their weekly meals, making it easier to stick to their goals.
Why is meal planning with PCOS important?
Meal planning is a helpful tool for those with PCOS because it takes some stress out of cooking homemade meals. It also makes it easier to ensure eating nourishing foods that help PCOS. Meal planning can look different for each person but the main point is to have a plan so cooking meals during the week becomes more of a habit. For those with PCOS, meal planning can be a very effective tool for improving symptoms.
This is because planning meals ensures you’re going to include the various components that make a balanced meal so you can support your blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance.
In this article, I will cover: how to make a balanced meal, how to meal plan, meal prep tips, and healthy meal prep ideas.
How to make a balanced meal with PCOS
So what are the various components of a balanced plate? A balanced plate includes a source of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates. These three components make up a balanced plate because they all play an important role in helping you feel satisfied from your meal. When we lack one of these meal components or don’t have the right balance between them, it can lead to cravings or dissatisfaction. How does this work? Well, let’s break it down.
Protein Sources for PCOS
Protein is an important component of a balanced meal. It is the most satiating macronutrient meaning it helps reduce hunger hormones most effectively. This is because protein takes longer to break down in our stomach. Protein stays longer in our stomach which helps reduce our hunger hormones and balance our blood sugar. It’s important to get plenty of lean protein sources at each meal and snack. How much protein you need at each meal and snack is going to vary between individuals. Make your plate 1/4 protein, evaluate how that feels for you, and go from there.
Protein ideas to include at meals and snacks:
- Sliced turkey
- Greek yogurt
- Beans and legumes
Healthy Fat Sources for PCOS
The second component of a balanced meal is healthy fat. Fat is the second most satiating macronutrient which means it helps us feel satisfied. It takes the longest to breakdown in the stomach and it slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine. Fat also makes our food taste more appealing which is an important element to think about when planning meals. Each meal should have at least 1 serving of healthy fat which is about 15g or 1 tbsp of fat. Sources of fat in meals can come from: animal protein, cooking oils, dressings, dips/sauces, or added into food products from the store.
Healthy fat ideas to include at meals and snacks:
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Greek yogurt
Carbohydrates for PCOS
The last component of a balanced meal is carbohydrates. This is usually the component that many people try to limit but it’s very important that we have carbohydrates at each meal and snack. It is recommended to make ½ your plate filled with non-starchy vegetables and ¼ of your plate with starchy vegetables or fruits.
Non-starchy vegetables refer to vegetables that have minimal impact on glucose levels and high levels of fiber. We want the majority of our plates to be filled with non-starchy veggies because they provide fiber to help our gut and blood sugar.
Starchy vegetables refer to carbohydrates that have more of an impact on glucose levels and may or may not have fiber. We want to include starchy vegetables or fruits at meals because they provide some fiber and nutritional benefits. But because they have the greatest impact on glucose levels, we want to have a ½ cup serving and pair it with our protein and healthy fat.
Below are some examples of non-starchy vegetables:
- Romaine lettuce
- Bell peppers
Below are some examples of starchy vegetables and fruits:
- Whole Grains
How to meal plan with PCOS
To start meal planning you’re gonna want to grab a pen and paper to write down your plans. There are many ways to meal plan and you can find a method that works for you. Personally, I love to plan out my dinners for the week and I use the leftovers for lunch the next day. This cuts down my cooking time and helps me maximize the number of meals I can create for myself. I use the balanced plate components to plan out five dinners each week. I use Pinterest or my favorite food bloggers to find recipes that I want to make and I can tweak each recipe to make it more PCOS friendly.
Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for PCOS
If you want to make more PCOS friendly meals, here are some ideas listed below using the balanced plate components:
- Chicken tacos or fajitas
- Protein: Shredded chicken
- Healthy fat: Avocado oil is used to cook onions and bell peppers
- Non-starchy carbohydrates: Grilled onions and bell peppers
- Starchy carbohydrates: 1 serving of whole-grain corn tortillas
- Fish Dinner
- Protein: Grilled Salmon
- Healthy Fat: Olive oil used to cook salmon or sour cream for potatoes
- Non-starchy carbohydrates: Steamed broccoli
- Starchy carbohydrates: Baked potato
- Turkey Lunch
- Protein: Sliced turkey
- Healthy Fat: avocado-based mayo
- Non-starchy carbs: lettuce, tomatoes, sliced onions,
- Starchy carbs: Whole grain bread
Meal Prep Tips for PCOS
Once you’ve got your meals planned out for the week, you can start meal prepping to make sure you follow through with your meal plans. In order to help you meal prep, I have listed out some simple tips you can incorporate into your weekend to-do list to make your week less stressful.
- Batch cook whole grains and beans
Batch cooking your whole grains and beans makes it easier to add them into recipes during the week. Another benefit of this method is whole grains and beans have less of an impact on blood sugar when they’ve been heated and cooled like with batch cooking. When starch molecules in grains and beans get heated and then cooled, they create bonds that act more like fiber than actual glucose.
- Pre-cut vegetables and fruit
Another helpful strategy is precutting your fruits and vegetables for the week. Studies have shown people are more likely to consume fruit that’s been washed, prepped, and ready to eat. After shopping at the grocery store, take 20 minutes while putting your food away to wash and prep any produce you’re gonna want to eat within the next couple of days.
- Utilize dinner leftovers for lunch the next day
I mentioned this previously because I swear by this method. If you’re going to be cooking a meal at night for dinner, you might as well make enough for leftovers. This takes the stress away from needing to prepare both lunch and dinner. I love these glass containers for storing leftovers.
- Buy pre-packaged food products that are “worth it”
Buying pre-packaged foods can be less cost-effective but they do save time which in turn can save you money/resources. I recommend those with PCOS prioritize buying packaged foods that are worth it to them and will help them reach their goals. For example, if a client didn’t like prepping hardboiled eggs but this was an item they liked to eat to help them meet their protein needs I may recommend buying pre-packaged hardboiled eggs.
As you can see there are a lot of simple changes and habits you can incorporate into your PCOS routine to help you manage your symptoms and feel your best.
Does the thought of planning meals with PCOS stress you out? The 1:1 Peace with PCOS Experience provides guidance and TONS of meal ideas and recipes to support you. Learn more here.
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