Don’t Diet for PCOS

PCOS BlogMy message today is simple: Don’t diet … at least in the way we traditionally think about dieting. Research studies have shown that, on average, 95 percent of people who lose weight end up regaining this weight (and often more) within 1-5 years. (Although we’re talking about research in adults, it’s likely that the same thing would apply to teens.) It’s common for girls with PCOS to attempt dieting, given that many girls with PCOS have been told by their health care provider or nutritionist that losing weight (if overweight) may help PCOS symptoms (which is true).

So what’s a girl to do?

First, stop thinking that losing weight has to do with ‘willpower’ and depriving yourself of food when you’re hungry.

Consider this:

  • Skipping meals or drastically limiting what we eat affects our mood and concentration. It’s also a well-known fact that depriving ourselves of food leads us to think about food… all the time. The combination of not thinking clearly and thinking too much about food can lead us to overeat.
  • Sometimes we get upset about our lack of “willpower” and think of it as the reason we can’t lose weight. However, using willpower to “make yourself” do something is like being at war… with yourself. You should be trying to help – not fight – yourself!

Instead, consider taking time for self-care (taking care of yourself) as a way to help manage your weight:

  • Nourish your body with regular meals – this could mean three meals a day, or perhaps five smaller meals throughout the day. Most of us need food every 3-4 hours. Allow yourself this basic need, and in turn, your metabolism will run most efficiently!
  • Get enough sleep – this is a tremendous act of self-care that many of us struggle with!
  • Depending on what’s going on in your life, self-care could mean slowing down a bit… or or it could mean trying something new, such as  a new recipe, or a Zumba class at your community center.
  • Think about eating as an act of truly caring for yourself, rather than a behavior that brings up guilt and worry. Over time, you’ll find yourself naturally making more healthful choices.
  • Finally, leave time for simply talking to your close friends or family. Talk about whatever comes up, be it happy things or worries; the important thing is sharing this time.

-Nutritionist Abigail