I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome at 17 years old after suffering with seemingly untreatable acne and weight-loss problems. I have always been an overweight child, teenager and now adult, however I never thought a causing factor may be something genetic (my aunt is a sufferer too).By no means do I attribute all of my weight problems to PCOS, as a lot of my weight gain in my latter years has been due to comfort eating and over indulgence.
To those who are unfamiliar with PCOS it is a condition that affects roughly 10% of women and the ovaries make more androgens than normal. Androgens are male hormones that females also make. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Insulin may be linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. High androgen levels can lead to acne, weight gain and excess hair growth.
Dealing with PCOS initially seemed like a life sentence I would have to deal with- would I ever have children? Will I ever lose weight? For a long time I believed the answer to those questions was “no”. Recently however I’ve found that PCOS and its symptoms can be reversed providing you lose sufficient weight. This for me was a revelation and since I’ve been doing all I can to try and lose weight. I am no expert at explaining the condition or how to stop symptoms as I am no doctor, but changing my lifestyle and more importantly my diet has lead to weight loss.
Low GI foods have been assumed to be a treatment to PCOS to alleviate symptoms and to help weightloss. Here is a quote I’ve found from C4’s Food Hospital which explains how low GI food is beneficial:
“A low glycemic index (GI) diet is a potential treatment for PCOS, as it releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slower rate, requiring the pancreas to produce less insulin. A low GI diet also reduces carbohydrate intake, which will contribute to a drop in weight that should also alleviate the symptoms of PCOS. Low GI foods include most meat, eggs and cheese, as well as cereals such as bran and oats, grains such as barley as well as pasta. These foods will raise the blood sugar level very gradually, whilst high GI foods such as white bread or processed meats will lead to a very quick rise in blood glucose levels, and necessitate increased production of insulin to deal with the excess sugar.”
For me, changing to a low GI lifestyle has been easy, here are some changes I’ve made:
White Bread — Wholemeal Bread
White pasta/rice — Wholemeal pasta/rice
Sweets/chocolate — Snickers bar (yes, that’s right!!)
Jacket potatoes — New potatoes
Sweet cereals and weetabix — Bran and Plain oats.
These are just a few changes that I’ve made, that have impacted largely on my weight but not on my lifestyle or budget!
I hope this post helps those who are unfamiliar with PCOS to understand it more. It for me is not an excuse to be overweight, it’s something to fight and I will beat it eventually! There is nothing more soul destroying than hearing girls give up on themselves because they have PCOS!
IT CAN BE DONE!