There was a time when I used to enjoy meat and dairy products. This was mainly down to the fact that it was how I was raised and I didn’t think to question or understand the rationale behind my diet.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS I decided it was time to reevaluate my lifestyle and this meant reevaluating my diet too. Like many women who find out they have PCOS my first thought was to go low-carb and high protein. A simple search on Google will throw up results stating that the best diet for PCOS is low fat, low carb and high protein. So I started to eat more meat and dairy but surprisingly I found that the hair on my face grew quicker, my acne was terrible and my weight wasn’t really shifting.
I then fell into what I call the doughnut depression era. I decided that if I wasn’t losing weight I should just ditch the diet and carry on as I was before. My weight went up and up but I was too down to care although to my friends and family I was the happy chubby woman, content with who she was.
It wasn’t until I saw a video whilst scrolling through my Facebook wall, oreo cookie in hand, that I started to understand veganism. To me veganism was one of those extreme diets where you mainly lived on salad, nuts and weird seeds that I couldn’t pronounce (I am proud to say I can now pronounce quinoa like a pro).
The journalist in me came out and my research began. What I found horrified me! The horror the animals are put through and the neglect they suffer brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t deny that I was contributing to another creatures hell. So I went through my cupboards and fridge and removed everything that once had a face.
Great, my conscience was clear but what the hell was I going to eat. Realising that I could kill two birds with one stone, I started to look at vegan diets for women with pcos. A quick search on google and I was overwhelmed with information on what to eat and what not eat. Some articles pointed me in the direction of research and evidence, others just seemed to pull things out of thin air. It is a minefield out there, ladies!
Once I began to cut out the dairy and the meat my skin cleared up, the hair growth on my face slowed down and I felt as if I had more energy than I had ever had before. I began to experiment with different vegetables and try things I would have turned my nose up at a few months previous.
Women who suffer with PCOS often find that they have increased levels of insulin due to free floating IGF-1 (there is a great article here for more info on IGF-1).
Increased insulin levels result in excessive facial hair growth and may contribute to the onset of diabetes type 2. Eating a vegan diet is a great way to control insulin levels as most vegan foods such as legumes,vegetable, fruit and wholegrain are low GI. Low GI foods are known to be harder for the body to break down therefore they release energy slowly and do not spike insulin levels like refined carbs such as sugar does.
Restoring Ovulation – It’s Possible!
Women who suffer from PCOS have problems ovulating due to the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. This is due to the pituitary gland producing too many sex hormones and flooding the system. Vegan diets encourage people to eat food that are packed full of nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals. Studies have found that iron-rich foods can increase ovulation and fertility rates. Most often people think iron can only be found in meat and fish but this is not true! Most green vegetables, fruits, fortified foods and grains contain an abundance of iron. Pro tip: Always take vitamin c when consuming iron rich foods as vitamin aids the body in absorbing the iron.
Regular Periods – What the hell are they?
This is usually the first symptom of PCOS that many women notice. I had two regular periods when I started and then they fell off the face of the earth. Just like Atlantis and the Tower of Babel, I am still trying to establish if my periods really exist. Weight gain also hinders normal menstruation and if there’s one thing PCOS knows how to do well, it’s to make you put on a tonne of weight just by looking at a salad.
Following a healthy vegan diet can help you to reduce your waist line significanlty, which is the majority of cases will help to jump start your periods and ovulation. You dont need to look like a supermodel but just a 10% decrease in body weight can make a big difference to your hormones. According to the MayoClinic.com, legumes, whole wheat. oatmeal and brown rice can all aid in weightloss due to their high fiber content.
Don’t Give Up
Above all, don’t give up your hopes and dreams of having a family or even just having regular periods. When done correctly veganism can help to get you back to who your were or who you want to be. It will be hard work and you will mess up, you are human, don’t beat yourself up. As Bob Ross would say “there are no mistakes just happy little accidents”.