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PCOS Diet: 13 Foods To Avoid If You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Disorder? A PCOS diet may help in the treatment while you also take medicines and make lifestyle changes.

Suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Disorder? A PCOS diet may help in the treatment, while you also take medicines and make lifestyle changes.

PCOS or Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal condition that women of childbearing age normally experience. It causes a variety of symptoms in them, such as excessive hair growth on the face, acne, prolonged menstrual periods and obesity.

Normally, the first symptom of PCOS is excessive and unexplained weight gain. By diagnosing it early, treating it immediately, and supplementing it with a diet and lifestyle plan supervised by a doctor, you can reduce your chances of getting Type 2 diabetes and related long-term complications.

How diet affects PCOS

In this disease, cysts form on the ovaries, which produce androgen, a hormone. This causes PCOS symptoms. Women with PCOS symptoms have unusually high insulin levels. This leads to the body becoming resistant to insulin.

The hormone insulin aids body cells in converting sugar into energy. If you cannot produce enough insulin, your blood sugar rises. This also happens if you’re insulin-resistant. Whereas high insulin levels produces more androgens, insulin resistance is the result of a higher body mass index than the normal range.

If you eat a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, it can lead to more insulin resistance and weight loss becoming more difficult.

PCOS diet: Types of foods to avoid

As a PCOS sufferer, you will find relief in not eating certain foods. These are:

Sugary foods

Doctors say that the insulin levels of PCOS sufferers like you are much higher than usual. Due to this, you will find it increasingly difficult to lose weight since the primary duty of insulin is to control blood sugar, though it can also store fat.

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To get over the symptoms of PCOS, try eating fewer sugars and opt for simple carbohydrates to lose weight and lower your risk for diabetes. Sugary foods are basically simple carbs that cause sudden surges in blood sugar.

So, avoid drinking sweetened juices, sodas and syrups, and should also avoid eating sugar-based cereals, cakes, cookies and candies and opt for sugar-free sweeteners such as stevia.

White flour-based foods

Yet another simple carbohydrate, you should avoid white flour entirely. Avoid eating cereals, bagels, breads, muffins, cookies and cupcakes and other baked foods made of white flour. Instead, eat foods made of whole-wheat, multigrain or whole-grain flours.

Sodium-rich foods

Reduce your sodium intake to about 2300 mg per day. Foods rich in sodium such as canned vegetables and broths, sauces, marinades, chips, smoked meats, salted nuts, etc, should be avoided. Instead, season your food with mustard, vinegar, cracked black pepper, lemon juice or ground white pepper.


If you drink milk for its calcium content, you should try to get it from vegetables instead. This is because milk makes your testosterone levels rise, because of its protein content that limits the normal testosterone metabolism. On the other hand, high testosterone levels can worsen your situation and increase hair growth.

Dairy products and milk are instrumental for good health, but in the case of PCOS, it is extremely harmful. Milk consumption increases testosterone levels. Besides, there’s a certain kind of milk protein reduce regular testosterone processing in the body. This causes testosterone levels to continue to rise, thereby worsening PCOS symptoms. For your better health, avoid eating cheese, butter and yogurt and, of course, drinking milk.

Fatty foods

PCOS sufferers should eat more of lean meats, skinless poultry, white meat, fat-free dairy and dressing. Fried foods should be replaced with steamed, baked, broiled, grilled and baked foods, to limit oil intake. Healthy cooking oils like olive oil that are rich in unsaturated fats should be chosen.

Soy products

Avoid soy based foods as they can put off your ovulation. If you have PCOS and are trying to conceive, it is best to avoid all soy products.

Hydrogenated cooking oil, processed foods and margarine

Saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated fats are detrimental to PCOS sufferers. Of these, hydrogenated fats are present in processed foods, some cooking oils and margarine. These fats can increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Goitrogenic vegetables like Kale, Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.

These contain goitrogens (substances that lead to goitre, a condition that leads to impaired thyroid function) that inhibit thyroid functioning, which can lead to or aggravate PCOS. Eating these raw is a problem, though it is OK if well cooked.

Pasta and noodles

Pasta noodles that contain durum wheat flour or regular flour or semolina are rich in carbohydrates and low in fibre. Instead of these noodles, opt for bean or lentil flour pasta.


There is a strong co-relation between excess caffeine intake and infertility – which makes the infertility caused in PCOS worse.


Alcohol is processed in the liver, and regular alcohol intake may interfere with the metabolism of oestrogen, which also happens in the liver. By developing an alcohol problem, the risk of PCOS increases by 50%, as compared to teetotalers.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners come with extra oestrogen levels, heightened inflammation and testosterone levels. You’ll find artificial sweeteners in diet products, as if they are healthy foods, when actually it isn’t so. Instead, use natural sweeteners like stevia, agave syrup or Xylitol.

Red meat

A high protein diet, rich in red meat, will never let you get rid of PCOS. Red meat leads to a fall in the body’s SHBG production (sex hormone binding globulin), something that PCOS sufferers need to lower high levels of testosterone. Increasing your meat intake leads to lower levels of carbohydrates — often, a big problem for PCOS sufferers. PCOS also results due to poor thyroid functioning. It’s extremely important for your pituitary gland to receive the glucose to create hormones that will bring about hormonal balance in your body.

Conclusion on PCOS Diet

Before setting out to treat PCOS, speak to your doctor about the PCOS diet. They can give you a list of foods that you should and shouldn’t eat, specific to your condition. They can also make choosing foods less stressful for you, which would help vastly when solving a hormonal disorder. Your doctor can also oversee your health and improvement regarding PCOS symptoms.

Published here earlier.

Images sources: Ikostudio and Anna Fomenko via Getty Images, free and edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Richa Sethia

I am Richa, Founder of ParentingHealthyBabies.com, a parenting blog started with the intention and hope to become a valuable parenting resource. I am a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, pregnancy, homemade baby food read more...

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