For those of you that may not be familiar, PCOS is otherwise known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. A quick Google search will tell you that it’s fairly common and easily treated and that is the first untruth of many that you will hear in regards to PCOS. This post was to tell you about my personal journey with PCOS, the hardships that come with it, and best of all some tips that have worked for me. Then I got on a rant about dieting and figured we should probably just focus on that for this post!
I was diagnosed with PCOS over a year ago but it feels like five! I have had problems for years with sporadic, short, heavy periods, daily cramping, headaches, and more. The problem is that no one seems to be able to say definitively what symptoms are caused by my PCOS and which are from other sources. I was diagnosed, not for polycystic ovaries, but based on the other symptoms that fit- Irregular periods and excess androgen (male hormones).
Last year my doctor diagnosed me after I had a very bad pulling pain in my ovaries. First there was an ultrasound that found I had a large uterine fibroid and a mass. Next, there was a CT scan with contrast to see the mass better. Good news on that front, they couldn’t see a mass at all. So, my doctor told me to get a colonoscopy (family history) and to start taking an estrogen only birth control and Metformin. She highly recommended dieting.
Let’s get this rant out of the way now. Dieting with PCOS is worse than literally anything I can think of right now and I came up with Hell and Hitler! I’ll break it down simple (I’m not a doctor… yet) like my doctor did for me-
Dieting with PCOS
Calories your body thinks it needs- 3000
Normal calories a lady needs in her day- 2000
Calories a woman with PCOS needs- 1000
This is mind-blowing to me and I bring it up to anyone that mentions PCOS because if there is only one thing I wish people understood about it, is that so many women that have PCOS are overweight and it’s because their body is being a dick. You heard me.
Imagine being told to go on a diet for a third of what your body craves and I don’t mean that you want to eat more. Your body truly believes that it needs 3X the calories the doctor says you should have and it acts that way. Hunger pains, lightheaded, and general hangriness. Makes the journey a little bit harder. Now let’s really kick it into gear.
PCOS Diet: What you can eat (because it’s a shorter list than what you can’t)
Ketogenic diet- Above-ground vegetables, fatty nuts, meat, and cheese. Oh and let’s not forget full-fat dairy, but I’m lactose intolerant, so I forget it. This is (from what I can find) the most successful diet for women suffering from PCOS symptoms. But for some of us suffering from PCOS, the dieting recommended by doctors doesn’t help with the symptoms.
I’ve done a lot of reading about dieting for PCOS because my doctor recommended a low-carb diet and calorie counting. I hate low-carb (another PCOS secret- this is what you crave all day, every day) diets. I did it anyways and was fairly lax with it, but I cooked most of my meals myself and did a lot of camping in the summer. Low and behold I lost 40 pounds and I thought it was a miracle. I hit a weight I couldn’t seem to get lower than, but I was extremely happy with where I was.
Then you know what happened? I went see the doctor and they said I needed to lose weight. Go on a diet. It would help ALL my symptoms be reduced. Imagine my surprise. I did all of this work, I lost all of this weight, I looked damn good! But because I was still overweight it wasn’t even acknowledged that I had lost 15% of my body weight. I was told good job, but do better.
There aren’t enough words to describe how disappointing this is. I have read study after study that shows that if women with PCOS could just lose 10% of their body weight that most, if not all of their symptoms will go away. It didn’t work for me and it might not work for you. Don’t get discouraged. There are better days ahead.
Look for the next instillation of My PCOS Journey on April 12th. Don’t be concerned that my next PCOS Journey blog will be titled The Dark Days! Also look for a coming post on PCOS Vitamin Recommendations. Please feel free to comment or message me with your stories. I love to hear about other women’s trials and successes that come with PCOS. Additionally, I would love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you with PCOS vitamins!