Planning Your Meals with PCOS
Purabi Gunjal (she/her)

Purabi Gunjal (she/her)

Aug 31PCOS

Planning Your Meals with PCOS

Will dieting help you?

PCOS diets are different from other diets. This is not an extreme form of diet that slows your metabolism and leads to nutrient deficiency. PCOS meal plan focus on foods that are best helping your body fight against insulin resistance and improve metabolic rate. Eating balanced meals, consuming good quality and nutritious foods, and eating mindfully is the crux of the PCOS friendly diet plan.

What nutrients should your PCOS diet consist of?

PCOS diet plan meals should consist of the top three nutrients:

  • Healthy fats ( help in making up the hormones)
  • Protein (maintaining a healthy weight)
  • Fibre ( improve insulin sensitivity)

If your meals consist of these three nutrients, they will help you curb your cravings.

The other necessary nutrients include:

  • Complex carbohydrates (stabilize insulin levels)
  • All vitamins and minerals (crucial for all body processes)

Foods in natural form are your best friend. Whatever you eat, try to take it in as natural form as possible. Your PCOS diet chart will help you understand what to eat for PCOS weight loss.

Low Glycemic Index foods

Foods with a low Glycemic Index help in keeping the insulin levels stable. Insulin resistance is one of the most common problems faced by PCOS patients. This results in weight gain. When you stabilize your insulin levels it makes your weight manageable.

  • Unprocessed carbohydrates
  • Whole grains: whole wheat, jowar, bajra, barley, rolled oats
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts
  • All seeds
  • Vegetables: All green leafy vegetables, all gourds, pumpkin, lady’s finger, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage should have a place in your diet.
  • Fruits: All berries, kiwi, pomegranate, cherries, plums, apricots, and citrus fruits can be considered as your PCOS-friendly fruits to add to your list.

Anti-inflammatory foods

As PCOS is an inflammatory disorder, including foods that have anti-inflammatory properties will be helpful. This inflammation can again result in weight gain, therefore a reduction in inflammation will lead to weight loss. You may include these in your PCOS weight loss diet.

  • Omega-3-rich foods: fatty fish, flax seeds, walnuts
  • Healthy fats: nuts, coconuts, avocado, fatty fish, egg yolks, wood-pressed or cold-pressed oils, ghee
  • Good quality cooking oil: olive oil, cold-pressed or wood-pressed oils
  • High fibre foods: whole grains, vegetables, fruits
  • Dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, fenugreek, amaranth, kale, broccoli
  • All the coloured fruits: grapes, apples, bananas, all berries like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, mulberries, and cherries are the best PCOS fruits.
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C: citrus fruits
  • Beans: legumes, lentils, pulses
  • All nuts: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts
  • All oilseeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves
  • Unsweetened dark chocolate or cocoa

What foods should I avoid?

PCOS weight loss diet should avoid foods that cause inflammation, insulin resistance and weight gain. Your doctor may advise you to reduce the consumption of such foods rather than avoid it. Here’s a list of what not to eat for PCOS.

  • Refined carbohydrates: Refined flour foods like white bread, cakes, and pastries are highly processed, have a high Glycemic Index and raise insulin levels, leading to cravings.
  • Refined sugar: It is used in most desserts and sugary beverages like sodas, squashes, juices, etc. It affects immunity as well as triggers acne.
  • Fried foods, fast foods: These foods are cooked in oil that is constantly reheated due to which it gets oxidised. It destroys all the nutrients of the foods and increases the inflammation in the body.
  • Processed meats: Sausages, salami, hot dog
  • Non-organic poultry and meat: Commercially bred chicken and meat are injected with hormones and antibiotics which remain in their bodies making them harmful for our consumption. Better to opt for organic meat.
  • Trans fats and refined oils: These also negatively affect our bodies.
  • All types of bad fats: Margarine and lard that are used in bakery items are not good for health.
  • If required, avoid milk and dairy products: Cows or buffaloes are injected with hormones so that they produce more milk. These are present in the milk we consume, which may lead to hormonal imbalance.
  • If required, avoid inflammatory foods: Chicken, red meat

pcos meal planning

Is there any particular diet for PCOS pregnancy?

There is no particular PCOS pregnancy diet. A healthy lifestyle with fertility treatment may help you conceive. Please make sure that you tell them about any food or medicine allergies you have to avoid in your medication and diet plan.

A sample Indian PCOS-friendly diet plan for a day

Early Morning: Overnight soaked almonds or walnuts

Breakfast: Besan cheela stuffed with veggies OR Omelette with veggies

Morning Snack: A glass of nimbu paani with chia seeds

Lunch: Green salad, Spinach dal, Rice with ghee

Evening Snack: Fruit bowl with mixed seeds

Dinner: Tofu scramble with veggies and Khichdi with ghee

What do you mean by lifestyle changes?

You need to improve your body in a wholesome way, including diet, exercise and medication. Mental health is as important as physical health. Indulge in hobbies and activities that put a smile on your face. The following changes will also make you improve insulin sensitivity, menstrual cycle regular and control other PCOS symptoms:

  • Eat a good diet and keep hydrated
  • Get enough sleep at night
  • Do enough physical activity to manage your weight
  • Manage your stress, anxiety

How many calories should you consume every day?

The number of calories will depend on your clinical conditions, personal health goals, and physical activity every day. But rather than counting calories, it is crucial to focus on the source of your calories. Therefore, natural, healthy and nutritious food remains the baseline.

How can you plan your meals?

Planning your meals will make your life better. This includes weekly and daily planning.

If you plan your meals you:

  • will not end up eating unnecessary foods.
  • can buy your ingredients in advance and prepare for the week.
  • can stick to your health goals.
  • can stay on track with your PCOS journey

Keep these tips in mind when you plan your meal for the day.

  1. Write down your meals for the week and stock up your pantry.

    Note down the dishes for the week in advance and stock up the pantry. This will help you experiment with different foods and dishes. Decide what you would be eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Being well-prepared in advance will save you a lot of time and energy and make your life much easier. It will also ensure that you are incorporating different foods to get a maximum number of nutrients as well as stop you from ordering in unnecessarily.
  2. Repeat your meals

    If you often struggle with deciding what to eat, then the advice is to repeat your meals with few alterations during the week. Similarly, you can repeat the ingredients but cook different recipes with them. For example, using spinach, you can make a spinach curry, a spinach omelette or a spinach khichdi. You can skip this if you love variety and want to experiment every day.
  3. Prep your ingredients in advance

    You can save time and energy by preparing your planned dishes the day before you need to cook them. For example, clean and chop your greens like coriander, spinach, and fenugreek. You can even make a large dough to last you for 1-2 days. If you have planned to make idlis or dosas, soak the ingredients for making and fermenting the batter. Similarly, keeping your food schedule in mind, prepare your ingredients accordingly.
  4. Prepare homemade snacks

    Making homemade PCOS-friendly snacks will stop your craving for junk food and prevent spontaneous unhealthy purchases. Always keep nuts, seeds, vegetable chips, popcorn, fruits etc., at home. You can even eat homemade energy bars, smoothies, egg dishes and bhels. Always carry some dry snacks with you wherever you go to prevent temptations. You can even try PCOS-friendly versions of your favourite snacks, which can satisfy your cravings without losing control of your diet.
  5. Check your meal plan a night before too

    Make it a daily habit to check the next day's meal plan to adjust it if need be. Planning for the week will help you stock up your pantry, but if you don't have enough time to make a dish you had planned because of work or otherwise, you can swap it with another easy to make a healthy meal.

How many meals should you eat and at what intervals

It will depend on you and your hunger. If you feel hungry every two hours, you must eat smaller meals every two hours. But consume the three main meals, i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner, if your lifestyle allows it. Home-cooked, fresh food should be sufficient. If you go to restaurants or order food, opt for grilled, baked or steamed dishes, whole-grain foods, and salads. You can even request the chef for customized healthier less-oily versions of your meal.

Should you visit a nutritionist?

Visit your doctor and understand the cause of your PCOS. The blood tests will also help understand the nutrient deficiencies or surplus. Then, you can consult a nutritionist who can decide on an appropriate diet plan for you based on your causes and symptoms. If allowed by your doctor, you can even make the diet changes on your own.

Bottom line

PCOS cannot be cured but managed effectively with lifestyle changes. There are no standardized PCOS weight loss diet plans. It depends on the patient and their needs as each patient’s conditions are different. Take vitamin supplements or health supplements if prescribed by your doctor. Set attainable health goals for yourself to stay motivated for long. If your willpower wavers in between, don’t sweat. Take it easy, focus on becoming your healthier version gradually. Anything is possible.

Disclaimer - This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.