26-year-old Prapti Sood was diagnosed with PCOD recently. “When I first got diagnosed with PCOD, I did not even know what it meant or what exactly was wrong with my body. The horrifying part wasn’t the irregular periods or the kilos that kept piling on, but the people around me who did not understand the gravity of the matter. They didn’t really understand that I cannot lose weight by simply dieting or take medicines for my acne. My battle with PCOD seems a long and never ending one.”
Polycystic ovary disease also called PCOD is a condition that causes problems with metabolism and hormonal imbalance. With one in every 10 women suffering from it, the condition is becoming common.
What exactly is PCOD?
In PCOD, multiple numbers of small cysts develop in the ovaries. This condition leads to unpredictable hormonal behaviour and increases the risk of diabetes, acne, infertility, and excessive hair growth. The disorder is fairly common and has no exact cure. But several women who have suffered from it claim to have cured it with lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.
Most PCOD patients are overweight and are suggested to exercise daily, which may help control their weight and other symptoms as well.
The exact cause of PCOD
There is no exact cause of PCOD, though doctors and experts believe that some women have a predisposition to it and it may also run in the family. The most common known symptom of this disease is irregular periods and a lot of PCOD cases go undetected because of the lack of this symptom. In a lot of women, PCOD is discovered when they are trying to get pregnant because this condition may cause fertility problems. It can be detected by conducting blood tests and ultrasound.
Common symptoms of PCOD
Irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms of PCOD. Other symptoms include diabetes, infertility, acne, weight-gain, oily skin, migraine, excessive hair growth, and cardiovascular problems. And when periods are largely irregular, the chances of uterus cancer may also increase. Mood swings and depression are also the lesser known and uncommon symptoms of the condition.
We got consultant nutritionists, Seema Khanna and Priyanka Rohatgi to explain in detail about the dos and don’ts and the right kind of diet for women suffering from PCOD.
Dr Seema Khanna, consultant nutritionist shares, “Irregular periods are a big-time problem for women suffering from PCOD. To minimise the problem, one should increase their intake of antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics and spices like cinnamon and ginger. Women suffering from PCOD should also increase their intake of complex carbohydrates, low glycemic index foods and micronutrients like selenium, magnesium and chromium.”
She further adds that many women have this myth that they cannot consume dairy if they have PCOD, but it’s not so. The only dairy content that they should avoid is full-cream milk.
As women with PCOD are insulin resistant, they should also avoid deep-fried foods, simple carbohydrates, sugar, honey, and jaggery. Keeping a check on the water intake is also very important as PCOD makes one prone to constipation and water retention, says the doctor.
Dr Seema talks about another interesting fact that women with AB+ and AB- blood group find it more difficult to overcome the problem because they find it tough for them to get rid of their bad eating habits.
Honestly, managing PCOD can be hard, as one needs to work out regularly, eat super healthy and follow their doctor’s advice.
Dietary tips for women suffering from PCOD
Avoid red meat
A study conducted in 2013 found that eating meat can increase the risk of infertility, so it’s best to avoid it. Processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and luncheon meats should be avoided, says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Consultant Nutritionist, Apollo Hospital. Excess red meat such as steaks, pork and hamburgers should also be avoided, adds the doctor.
Do not eat saturated and hydrogenated fats
Saturated fats are found in many foods but mostly in animal and dairy-based products. Saturated fats can raise your cholesterol and calorie intake. Baked goods are full of these fats, so avoid them.
Eat the colours of ‘traffic light’
Dark green and leafy vegetables like lettuce and broccoli and red fruits like berries are densely rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Plant proteins like dried beans, legumes and lentils should also be a part of the daily diet, says Dr Priyanka.
You can opt for a diabetic diet
Women suffering from PCOD/PCOS are insulin resistant. Hence, they should follow the diabetic diet. Their diet should be rich in fibre and low in carbs and processed foods. Opt for foods with low glycemic index-made from whole wheat, wheat flour, whole grains, brown rice, poha and wheat pasta.
Avoid sugar and refined cereals
Dr Priyanka adds that PCOD patients should avoid refined carbohydrates like mass-produced pastries, white bread and biscuits. They should also avoid consuming non-nutritive calories like sugary beverages such as sodas and energy drinks.
Eat small frequent meals
PCOD patients might also experience water retention and the best way to avoid that is by having enough water and eating small and frequent meals.
Having flaxseeds and sesame seeds can do wonders for PCOD patients. However, do not consume more than 20 grams per day, says doctor Seema.
– Some herbs have also been proven to keep your hormones in check. You can have herbs like meethi dana, flaxseeds and cinnamon to keep your hormones in control.
– Along with all the dietary changes, it’s also important to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes in a day to reduce insulin resistance. High insulin resistance can lead to weight gain. It can also cause darkening of skin and an increase in the production of testosterone.
– Ideal breakfast for a PCOD patient is fresh fruits. One can also have a sandwich of multigrain bread with some tomato and cucumber. They should opt for bran roti instead of regular roti.
What to eat from each food group?
– Cereals – Oatmeal, barley, oats, muesli, quinoa, whole wheat, bran flakes, whole wheat porridge, multigrain bread, brown bread
– Pulses – Green moong, chana dal, beans, yellow moong and whole pulses
– Dairy products – Have skimmed or toned milk. You can also have soy milk, tofu yoghurt and paneer.
– Fruits – Berries, oranges, peaches, papaya, pears, watermelons, apples and plums
– Nuts – Walnuts, flaxseeds and almonds
Elaborate diet plan by Dr Seema Khanna, Consultant Nutritionist
A glass of water (250 ml)
You can add two grated gooseberries, six-seven peppermint leaves and two pinches of cinnamon powder to the water.
After 15 to 20 minutes
Have 20 soaked and peeled almonds and 1 tablespoon flaxseeds with 200 ml of toned milk.
After 10 minutes
Go for a 40 minute brisk walk.
After completing the walk, you can have green tea and you can add ginger, pudina, tulsi and a pinch of cinnamon.
After 1 hour
You can have eggs with vegetables or sprouts salad with veggies including broccoli, mushroom, bell peppers, pomegranate, lemon and sesame seeds.
If you still feel hungry, have vegetable juice.
You can have chapatti made with wheat, bran and gram flour + curd (no salt) and chopped cucumber.
Have green tea + bhuna chana bhel + 10-15 peanuts.
Make sure you eat your dinner by 8 pm.
You can have fruit salad in plain curd/vanilla ice cream. Do not add sugar to curd.
Do not forget to drink ajwain and tulsi water between and after your meals.