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Top 3 Tips for Transforming a PCOS Diet to a Healthy PCOS Lifestyle

When I first realized that my PCOS was the culprit of my irregular and potentially anovulatory menstrual cycles, I fell into the trap that all of us often do. I was so desperate to get my fertility journey back on track that I was willing to try anything. If you’re a fellow cyster who has struggled with sporadic cycles due to PCOS this may sound all too familiar. I wanted to know what diet, supplement, herb, and food that would help cure all.

After a few weeks with this mindset of “hey, let’s try everything”, I felt worse! Overwhelmed, frustrated, and honestly, just sitting around wondering. Wondering if all the supplements, diet changes, and ALL the things I was doing was actually working. I realized I had approached this with my emotions manning the ship. I must admit it is hard not to when something as personal and vulnerable as infertility is on the table. But I took a step back and took a bigger look. I realized I needed to approach this with my dietitian hat on. 

I remembered that it’s small, sustainable changes that make the BIGGEST difference long term. I remembered that approaching PCOS with a diet mindset set me up for a black and white thought process, which meant little wiggle room for real life situations. Real life situations like having to avoid the delicious, gluten-containing Christmas cookies that my mom only makes once a year that I have loved for years or not allowing myself one piece of Halloween candy because it contains dairy and gluten. This type of PCOS “diet” mindset was a lose-lose situation. It set me up to feel shame and guilt no matter what choice I made…shameful if I broke my “diet” and ate the food and guilt if I passed on a food that I absolutely LOVE!

Adjusting my PCOS diet to a healthy PCOS lifestyle was the best decision I could of made. It allowed me to enjoy life, promote healthy hormones, feel GREAT, and feel like I was making the right choices for my fertility AND PCOS.

Now, I’m going to sit here and lie and say this was easy. It took time. Shit, I’m STILL making tweaks and likely will be for some time. It took small changes to make BIG change long-term. It took me listening to my body and reflecting on how I was feeling throughout each small change to best understand what was right for MY body and MY lifestyle. I used evidence-based research combined with realistic behavior change and my personal experience to develop the framework in my 1:1 coaching program.

In my opinion, this is why it’s SO useful to work with PCOS and fertility-focused dietitian. As I said before, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just going from diet to diet or supplement to supplement trying to aimlessly “fix” your PCOS and fertility issues. But the truth is, 98% of diets ultimately fail. And supplements are expensive, am I right?! Here is a little visual I used on my Instagram the other day and I think this really represents the trap we often fall into. 

How we approach diet questions for pcos and fertility

This is EXACTLY why dietitian’s occupations exist. We help clear up that grey area of “it depends” and apply evidence-based information based on your specific needs. This allows you to be most successful long-term. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. PCOS is a marathon, not a sprint. It cannot be “cured” by one specific diet or supplement or food, we can only work to alleviate the symptoms and side effects to get your body working the best we can. Now let’s chat about my top 3 tips for transitioning to a PCOS lifestyle!

Top 3 Tips for Transitioning to a Healthy PCOS Lifestyle

  • Get a better understanding of what your body is telling you. This can be done by getting a DUTCH test completed (although I would work with someone who knows how to help you read the results), getting lab work done through your OBGYN, and/or working with a fertility dietitian. Without understanding the WHY, it's difficult to target what specific diet and nutrition changes are needed. This will help you narrow down what changes are really warranted and which ones are less important.
  • Start with 1-2 diet or lifestyle changes at a time. This isn't the popular answer but it's the right one. Sustainable small changes equate to BIG results long term. What's the point of going through the hassle of changing a huge part of your diet or lifestyle if you know deep down it's something you won't be able to keep up with long term? Over the years, I've gotten a lot of weird faces from patients when I ask them to write down very small, specific changes. But I can tell you, the ones that did, were the most successful.
  • Develop a nourishing mindset. This will serve you not only in your PCOS/fertility journey but in every aspect of life. When I started to really hone in on my self-talk, as well as what I considered self-care and made it a priority, it made potentially the biggest difference of all these tips. This can include things like daily meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, setting intentions, positive affirmations, yoga, or as simple as getting your nails done every couple weeks. This is different for every woman. But I assure you, being able to mentally manage each menstrual cycle despite ovulation or successful pregnancy is key in the fertility journey. When I conquered a strong mindset, I felt like a NEW WOMAN!

I firmly believe that adjusting from a diet to lifestyle mindset for PCOS will be the best decision you’ll make in 2020 by far! The tips above are only few of many tips I use in my 1:1 coaching program to help optimize women’s fertility through better management of their PCOS. If you’re ready to adjust your diet to a healthy PCOS lifestyle then my 1:1 coaching program could be right for you!

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