- PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, and acne.
- Choose whole grain sources of carbohydrates versus sources of carbohydrates that are “refined” (made mostly from white flour and/or sugar)
- For snacks pick high–fiber foods and pair them with protein foods.
You may have noticed that some meals leave you satisfied while others leave you with a growling stomach only an hour later. One way to help you feel more satisfied from meals is to have a mix of different types of nutrients at each meal. A meal with a source of protein, a whole grain carbohydrate and a fat in addition to fruits and vegetables will help you to stay full for longer. For women with PCOS, fueling up on well-planned meals and snacks throughout the day may help to keep you from overeating or making less healthy choices due to extreme hunger or low blood sugar.
Below are foods that are sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Remember to try to choose whole grain sources of carbohydrates versus sources of carbohydrates that are “refined” (made mostly from white flour and/or sugar). This is important because whole grains, which are higher in fiber, will not impact your blood sugar levels as much as refined sources of carbohydrate.
When choosing proteins try to avoid those that are breaded and/or fried such as fried chicken, fish sticks, or chicken nuggets. Beware that some sauces contain a lot of sugar so make sure to look at the Nutrition Facts label or make your own sauce rather than buying pre-made or from a restaurant.
Take a look at the Sample PCOS-Friendly Menus to get some ideas, and then plan your own menu using the foods from the lists below. After you’ve planned your menu, make a shopping list of the foods you will need to help you eat balanced meals and snacks.
PCOS-Friendly food lists:
- Honeydew melon
- Brussel sprouts
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collards
- Green beans
- Snap peas
- Lean beef
- Yogurt (plain is best, or try to find an option with less than 15 total grams of sugar per serving)
- Egg Substitute
- Milk (low–fat)
- Nut butters (such as peanut butter or almond butter)
- Veggie Burgers (try to find an option with more than 10 grams of protein)
- Bread (whole wheat)
- Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Cereal (try to find an option with more than 5 grams of fiber per serving)
- English Muffin (whole wheat)
- Pasta (whole wheat)
- Sweet Potato
- Tortilla (corn or whole wheat)
Fat for food preparation/dressings:
- Canola or Vegetable Oil
- Corn oil
- Olive Oil
What snacks should I choose?
Foods from the fruit and vegetable group are healthy snacks because they are high in fiber and packed with nutrients. Try to pick high–fiber foods and pair them with protein foods. For example, try an apple or celery with peanut butter, whole wheat crackers and cheese, whole wheat pita or carrots and hummus, or yogurt and nuts.
Before you go grocery shopping, make a list of all of the types of foods and drinks you’ll need such as: vegetables, fruits, proteins such as meat, dairy and legumes, and whole grain sources of carbohydrates. If you have a variety of these foods, you’ll be able to plan healthy meals and snacks. By paying attention to the labels on food products, you’ll be able to choose foods that you like, and are healthy for young women with PCOS. You can use the list of foods above to help start your list.
How do I use the Nutrition Facts label when grocery shopping?
Nutrition Facts labels are located on most food products, and list the nutrients that are found in one serving. Reading the labels can help you figure out which of your favorite foods are the most nutritious choices, and can also help you decide which foods to buy when you are grocery shopping.
Reading Nutrition Facts labels can help you to be more intentional about your food choices. For more information on reading the label, visit this guide.