If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, it’s likely you have also heard some diet advice (perhaps unsolicited). PCOS can not only be painful but also confusing – especially if you’re trying to conceive. But what if there was an easier way to optimize your fertility without drastically overhauling your lifestyle?
What are the worst foods for PCOS?
The answer might not be what you think. Keep reading to learn the truth about some common PCOS myths, as well as advice on how to track your ovulation with accuracy despite a PCOS diagnosis.
1. You should eliminate gluten and dairy from your diet if you have PCOS.
This is perhaps the most common PCOS diet myth. Some women with PCOS might swear by going gluten and/or dairy free, but the reality is that no study or research exists that concludes eliminating dairy and/or gluten from your diet can cure PCOS. While it's true that some women may find that eliminating dairy, gluten, or both from their diet help alleviate their PCOS symptoms, it's important to keep in mind there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone's body is different, and your treatment and care should be personalized to your own individual needs.
2. Keto is the best diet for PCOS.
If you're unfamiliar with the Ketogenic diet, it is based on eating 80% of your diet from fat, 15% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates. 'Keto' has become particularly popular and, for the reasons above, you might hear it recommended to you if you have PCOS. But it's important to understand the facts: eating such a high percentage of fat may impact your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. While this diet may be helpful for weight loss in the short term, the evidence does not support it being helpful in the long term when it comes to overall health or fertility.
3. You need to cut out carbs with PCOS.
In addition to frustrating symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, and hirsutism, some women with PCOS are insulin resistant, meaning their bodies don’t process it effectively. Because of this, many believe that women with PCOS should avoid not only gluten but all carbs. But while carbs can be hard to digest on their own, you can combat this if you add protein, fat, and/or fiber to your meal. So, instead of just eating a piece of bread, add some meat, cheese, or veggies to make a sandwich instead. Adding protein, fat, and/or fiber alongside a carbohydrate can help slow the absorption of those carbs and help stabilize your blood glucose levels following a meal.
4. You should avoid sugar at all costs with PCOS.
Sugar is a simplified version of carbohydrates. It is quicker to digest and absorb, which means it can drastically influence blood sugar spikes. But don’t give up all of your sweet indulgences just yet. Like carbs, consider combining sugar with fiber, fat, protein, and fiber. You can also still eat healthy natural sugars such as fruit, honey, and even maple syrup.
The bottom line? As long as you maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and move your body regularly, you shouldn't have to sacrifice the foods you love just because you have PCOS. However, if you’re someone that has been diagnosed with PCOS, you also know that alleviating symptoms is only half the battle. It can also be challenging to know when you’re ovulating, especially when you're trying to conceive.
So, how can you track your cycle with PCOS?
Understanding any hormone imbalances you might have is crucial when tracking ovulation for conception. For the roughly 1 in 10 women who struggle with PCOS, Oova can be a helpful tool for tracking your menstrual cycle. In fact, Oova was specifically designed for women who have irregular cycles.
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On the surface, Oova might appear like most ovulation products; however, it’s able to capture much more complex data, thanks to its advanced technology. Here’s how it works: when you download the Oova app, you are put through an important and thorough onboarding process to learn about your medical history and current cycle information. Then, the app notifies you when it is time to test by peeing on an Oova test strip.
The goal is to track your luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, which signals ovulation, several days ahead of time as well as several days after the surge to confirm if an egg has been released. Many people choose to test every day starting the day after their period ends until the test yields a “Post Ovulation” status.
With PCOS, it might take several days to gather accurate information about where you are in your cycle, but as you continue to enter your results into the app, you will be better able to understand whether you are ovulating. As time goes on, the Oova algorithm can better learn your body and tweak recommendations for your upcoming cycles to predict ovulation more accurately.
The good news is that while there is no one-size-fits-all approach — and no easy solution — for PCOS, you do have the power to make healthy lifestyle choices and utilize tools such as Oova to help you better analyze your cycle and guide you through the process of trying to conceive. Remember, you've got this!
Click here to learn more about Oova's Fertility Translator, and use the code PCOS2022 to get 10% off!
Whitney Welsh is a writer and content creator who is passionate about telling stories that inspire change. She has 12+ years of marketing and communication experience at industry-leading brands including Southwest Airlines, Hilton, and Baylor Scott & White Health. In her personal life, Whitney is inspired by travel, spending time outdoors, and volunteering in her community. She is currently expecting her first baby with her husband (and their dog, Odin).