Nutrition Tips for Women with PCOS: Foods to Incorporate into Your Diet

Dr. Sandra Jayesh
October 11, 2023
4 minutes
Nutrition Tips for Women with PCOS: Foods to Incorporate into Your Diet

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms, including irregular periods, high levels of androgen hormones, and the growth of small cysts on the ovaries. In addition to these symptoms, many women with PCOS struggle with weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

One of the most important things you can do to manage your PCOS symptoms is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can help regulate your hormones, reduce inflammation, and promote weight loss.

Women with PCOS can benefit from incorporating more high-fibre foods into their diet, as they can help regulate blood sugar levels and aid in the treatment of insulin resistance by slowing digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the body.

To increase the intake of fibre, women with PCOS can include foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, peppers, beans, lentils, berries, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and Amaranth leaves. It's important to note that if you have high levels of TSH, it may be best to avoid cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower in your diet.

Women with PCOS can benefit from incorporating lean protein sources such as chicken, tofu, and fish into their diets, as they can help curb feelings of hunger. While these foods may not be high in fiber, they can be beneficial in helping with weight management. In addition to these foods, anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and tomatoes, as well as anti-inflammatory foods such as nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts) and olive oil can also be beneficial for reducing inflammation, and thus improve overall health for those suffering from PCOS.

Certain fruits like Indian gooseberry, melons, black raisins, strawberries, and blueberries can have anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for women with PCOS. Furthermore, foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel, can also be beneficial for reducing inflammation in women with PCOS.

Foods To Avoid :

In general, people on a PCOS diet should avoid foods that are widely considered unhealthy. These are some examples:

  •  Refined carbohydrates such as mass-produced cakes, pastries, biscuits and white bread.
  •  Fried foods, including fast food (junk food)
  •  Sodas, energy drinks, juices with sugar and other sugary beverages.
  •  Hot dogs, sausages, tinned meat, fish and luncheon meats are examples of processed meats.
  • Excessive consumption of red meat such as steaks, hamburgers,king mackerel, processed meat and pork causes inflammation. 

These foods will increase insulin resistance, resulting in the aforementioned issues. As a result, affected women should try to avoid ot limit their consumption of these items significantly.

Here are some dietary suggestions that women with PCOS may consider to manage their symptoms:

  1. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast and avoid high-carbohydrates or inflammatory ingredients. Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating later in the day and cause insulin spikes.
  2. Drink water about 30 minutes before meals to help control portion sizes and increase feelings of fullness.
  3. Take your time to eat and chew your food thoroughly, this can aid digestion, reduce insulin resistance and prevent weight gain.
  4. Aim to finish dinner at least two hours before bedtime to avoid indigestion and disruptions to sleep, which can negatively affect the body's ability to repair itself.
  5. Following a specific diet plan to help manage weight can be beneficial for women with PCOS, Eating smaller portions and snacking every two hours can aid in maintaining weight.
  6. Avoid consuming tea or coffee on an empty stomach, to prevent causing upset stomach or acid reflux.
It's important to consult a dietitian to create an individualised plan that meets your specific needs, considering dietary restrictions and allergies, daily activity and your target weight.

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If you are unsure about what kind of diet would work best for you, or about your PCOS risk level or have questions about symptoms, take our screening quiz or schedule an appointment with our PCOS specialists for guidance (