If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, the first important thing to know is that you’re not alone. The second: when it comes to how to treat PCOS, you’ve more options than you think. PCOS Weight Loss registered dietitian Tallene Hacatoryan shares her top tips:
After being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) at 18, I felt scared and confused, and at a loss.
I was simply told that birth control pills would help manage my symptoms of PCOS and very little else.
After feeling disheartened from excessive exercise and dieting (with no relief) for far too long, I decided to find an alternative PCOS treatment plan.
So I did my own research, studied nutritional science, and became a dietitian.
And I’ve never looked back.
Better yet, I’ve helped thousands of women (The Cysterhood) soothe their PCOS naturally and thrive!
You’re up, Cyster!
In this article: 📝
- What does PCOS do to a woman’s body?
- What causes PCOS?
- How is PCOS treated?
- How to treat PCOS naturally?
What does PCOS do to a woman’s body?
First things first: what is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects up to 5 million women in the US alone and between 4% to 20% of women worldwide.
The signs of PCOS can look like:
- Weight gain, especially around the belly
- Hair loss
- Excessive hair growth called hirsutism, usually on the face, chest, back, and stomach
- Mood swings and depression
- Irregular periods
- PCOS acne
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
- Difficulty getting pregnant.
These symptoms not only have a big impact on a woman’s body, they can be challenging to self-esteem and mental health.
And while it can often be managed well through long-term PCOS diet and lifestyle changes, a lot of the recommended restrictive ‘quick fix’ diets don’t actually heal the underlying metabolic problems that are happening with PCOS.
So, if you’re finding yourself struggling with PCOS symptoms even though you’re doing everything right – it’s not your fault.
PCOS is complicated.
What causes PCOS?
Honestly, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown.
What we do know is that PCOS is linked to a hormone imbalance, and it can run in the family.
Possible triggers include chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, or even a thyroid condition.
These possible root causes then trigger higher-than-normal amounts of “male hormones”, called androgens.
Against lower-than-normal estrogen levels, these can mess with ovulation signals in the brain preventing your eggs from developing and releasing from your follicles.
All this while causing acne and PCOS hair growth where you least want it. 😡
How is PCOS treated?
The most common form of treatment for PCOS after diagnosis is suppressing our hormonal rhythms with birth control until we start trying to conceive (TTC).
At that point, it can be time-consuming (and even more frustrating) to reverse symptoms naturally, so fertility treatments are usually recommended instead.
But wait, can PCOS be cured by losing weight?
It’s true, most doctors suggest losing weight in order to increase the chances of fertility and treat PCOS symptoms
And although weight loss may be helpful, it’s often extremely difficult when the root causes of PCOS are not addressed.
Weight gain with PCOS is not simply an issue of eating too many calories.
It’s often an issue of metabolic dysfunction caused by root problems such as insulin resistance.
How to treat PCOS naturally?
As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage women with PCOS to consider making long-lasting lifestyle changes rather than resorting to short-term restrictive dieting and overexercising.
Here are my top tips on how to lose weight with PCOS, and reverse metabolic dysfunction. ⬇️
1. Stay off the restriction rollercoaster
If your main focus is to heal your metabolic dysfunction, eating salad all day isn’t the answer.
Restricting calories and waving goodbye to carbs is going to further fling your metabolism off the deep end.
Although cutting out carbs can help some women, it’s often not the answer for everyone.
If your PCOS treatment diet is making you feel restricted, hungry, and miserable, it’s not right for you.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others
Everyone’s PCOS journey and symptoms are so different, remember that.
Just because someone was able to lose 20lbs in two months doesn’t mean that your smaller weight loss should be dismissed.
Celebrate every positive step, no matter what.
That way, you keep up what works and continue heading in the right direction.
3. Treat your insulin resistance
If you have insulin resistance – which 80% of women with PCOS do – it’s important to treat it.
This might require a lower-carb diet and an increase in exercise.
For example: consistently doing slow, weighted workouts can help build muscle and improve insulin sensitivity, and going gluten- and dairy-free can prevent large insulin spikes.
4. Try meditation
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your stress hormones nice and low.
Around 50% of women with PCOS struggle with stress hormone dysregulation, which can trigger symptoms including weight gain.
A meditation practice, acupuncture, supplements, and therapy can reduce stress levels significantly.
On the other hand, cutting calories, restrictive dieting, and overexercising can trigger stress hormones.
5. Get 8 hours of sleep
Did you know that getting enough sleep is seriously important when you have PCOS?
Lack of sleep can lead to worsened glucose tolerance, which leads to more cravings and poor food choices.
Getting enough hours of shut-eye each night will also help with managing stress hormones and, as a result, symptoms of PCOS.
6. Learn your PCOS triggers
Removing gluten and dairy has made a remarkable improvement for many women with PCOS.
It’s a good idea to test cutting these foods out for a month or so to help you understand if they’re triggering your symptoms.
Because PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome, eliminating gluten and dairy gives you an edge in fighting all of those because they can be inflammatory and hormone-disrupting.
There is no way to cure PCOS permanently, but there are steps you can take to manage symptoms sustainably.
The most important thing to take away today is you’re not on this journey alone.
A friendly reminder and a word of encouragement is only a tap away on Peanut