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PCOD or PCOS as it is called can be a debilitating condition, but it can be managed with a good PCOD diet and the medication your doc gives.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that occurs when excess androgens (male hormones) are produced by the woman’s body which impacts its normal functioning.
This condition affects one in every ten women on an average and about 50% of them go undiagnosed. This statistic varies from geography to geography. Assuming that the world has 8 billion people and the male and female population are roughly equal, this means that about 400 million women suffer from this condition!
There are a number of ways to address PCOS and in this article, we’ll focus on a PCOD diet that will allow you to manage the condition with ease.
Diet is perhaps the single most important aspect of tackling PCOD. Diet is so inextricably linked with weight loss (and maintaining weight), managing blood sugar levels and overall well-being, that it’s meaningless to address PCOD without first talking about a PCOD diet.
In fitness circles, it’s often said that diet is for fat loss while exercise is for building muscles. That makes sense. What your body looks and feels like begins with what you put into it.
A PCOD diet helps restore the hormonal balance and reduce inflammation, and hence help alleviate the condition. Additionally, they ensure that you aren’t gaining weight. Weight gain is an important factor to consider because this impacts a whole host of issues associated with PCOS such as insulin resistance, fat accumulation, sleep apnea, and diabetes.
Eat foods with low glycemic index (GI)
These are foods that are digested by the body at a slower pace and hence don’t cause insulin levels to rise quickly in the body. Usually, carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread, potato, packaged cereals, etc have high GI while whole grains such as red and brown rice have low GI. Legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, starchy vegetables, and other unprocessed, low-carbohydrate foods are the other foods with low GI.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods
These are the foods that prevent chronic inflammation in the body. Fruits and vegetables have phytonutrients in them that naturally help prevent inflammation. Greens such as celery, coriander, spinach, kale, etc have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Amongst fruits, berries are especially good. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and ‘good’ fats such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, algae, etc are great to curb inflammation too. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, sage, and rosemary have natural anti-inflammatory properties. And here’s the best one: dark chocolate! Though eat that sparingly:)
Foods to avoid
Foods that are highly processed and mass-manufactured are a no-no. Avoid sugary beverages and refined carbohydrates such as pastries, white bread, etc. Fatty foods such as deep-fried foods such as fries aren’t the best choice either.
There are several diet plans you can follow that will allow you to satisfy your tastebuds and at the same time help you to manage PCOD. Here’s what I follow (this is a combination of what a nutritionist once recommended to me and what I discovered makes me feel like I’m eating healthy without depriving myself of food or satiation).
A large bowl of fruits (the more the merrier) with dry fruits and nuts such as almonds, cashews, raisins, walnuts, and dates. I top this with pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax seeds. As my nutritionist says, the idea is to pack as much nutrition into it as possible. I have a large bowl – usually 500 ml – and add at least 5-6 different fruits every time. After about an hour, I enjoy a cup of coffee with walnut milk.
A large bowl of lentils (dal or sambar or rasam) with some red rice and a simple salad. I usually have one full cucumber, one carrot, and tomato for salad in the afternoon. Red rice is the most nutritious rice variety to eat because it has much higher fibre, contains anthocyanins (which, amongst a host of other things, have been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties), and 10X more antioxidants than brown rice. Antioxidants help protect the body from cell damage which is linked to cancer, vision loss, and heart disease (and that’s naming just a few).
The idea is to load up on fresh vegetables and legumes, and have a lesser amount of rice. I make sure that I’m feeling satisfied – but also that the proportions are such that carbs take up not more than 25-35% of my plate. I sometimes replace rice with a couple of wholewheat chapatis (flatbread made of whole wheat flour). Instead of lentils, I usually have some vegetable sabzi (vegetables cooked dry or in the form of curry along with spices) as a side for the chapattis.
Generally, I have a handful of nuts such as roasted chickpeas or peanuts with coffee with walnut milk or black tea.
I like to go more light on my stomach in the evenings. I’ve found that the more raw fruits and vegetables I eat, the better I sleep. I do enjoy hot stuff for dinner, though! So I try to find a middle path and end up having a salad with either vegetable soup or some dal.
My version of soup is really simple – I just boil vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, carrots, beetroot, snake gourd, a small bit of potato, greens (half-cooked, usually) and blend them together with pepper and salt. For salad, I eat boiled broccoli and baby corn with raw bell peppers and lettuce. I drink as much soup or lentil (dal) as I please with a small bowlful of the salad.
Here are some rules I try and follow that have helped me streamline my diet:
~ Eat a large fruit bowl with nuts and seeds for breakfast
~ Don’t have any caffeine post 6 pm
~ Chew each mouthful of food thoroughly before swallowing
~ Eat only up to 75% of my stomach. I translate this as ‘stop eating when you feel satiated but feel like you can eat a helping or two more’
~ Eat a portion of salad for lunch and dinner and make sure that a third of my plate is salad
~ Eat at least 2-3 hours before going to bed at night
Diet is just so so important when it comes to PCOD/ PCOS that it might be a good idea to even meet a nutritionist to create a plan for you. Whether you have a nutritionist create a plan for you or create one for yourself, follow through with it – you’ll thank yourself for it 6 months down the road (and for the years to come). I know I did.
Image source: pexels
Ranjana TN is a Bangalore-based writer, dancer, and the co-founder of a sales
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