The number of couples struggling with infertility is on the rise like never before. In your practice, you’ve likely already met at least one person seeking nutritional support for pre-conception or pre-natal nutrition. One of the leading causes of infertility in women is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
It’s estimated that 8% to 10% of women of reproductive age struggle with this hormonal disorder. PCOS is shockingly common, and in many cases, women who have been diagnosed must seek out special treatment when they want to become pregnant.
In addition to irregular periods, there are four common concerns of women with PCOS that will often lead them to seek nutritional support:
- Excess Body Weight: Studies assessing the weight struggles of women with PCOS have reported overweight/obesity rates as high as 80%.
- Insulin Resistance: Women with PCOS often show reduced insulin sensitivity and increased fasting glucose levels. Insulin resistance problems can affect women with PCOS, even when they are not overweight.
- Acne: Due to elevated androgen levels, it is common for women with PCOS to struggle with acne, oily skin, and other cosmetic concerns (i.e. male-pattern hair growth) caused by high testosterone.
- High Blood Pressure: Many women with PCOS also have high blood pressure. While this is not an actual symptom of the disorder, it commonly occurs alongside PCOS and is easily managed by diet.
Working with Clients Coping With PCOS
When working with women who have PCOS, there are a few important things to take into consideration in order to truly assist in improving their health.
1. Start With Self-Love
First and foremost, consider that a client with PCOS is likely struggling with body image issues. Especially if she is overweight and/or suffering from acne or excess body hair. Spend time discussing self-love. Recommend she uses affirmations and works on helping her develop a positive body image.
Remember: Positive changes do not come from a place of self-hate. Do not underestimate the power of helping your client cultivate true self-love.
2. Fill-Up on Fiber
A high-fire diet has so many wonderful benefits, especially in addressing the concerns of PCOS. Dietary fiber has the power to reduce high blood pressure, manage blood sugar levels and promote a healthy body weight.
Teach your client to choose whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds for their naturally high fiber content. Refined grain products like pasta, enriched with fiber supplements have not been proven to have the same benefits as whole foods.
3. Balance Blood Sugar
Educate your client on the Glycemic Index, and the glycemic load of foods. Recommend she choose low-glycemic foods as often as possible, and always pair carbohydrate-rich foods with fat and protein to manage blood sugar levels.
Schedule smaller meals every two to three hours so that blood sugar highs and lows are avoided.
3. When in Doubt: Eat More Plants
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage are high in indole-3-carbinol and calcium D-glucarate. Both are helpful in balancing hormones and detoxifying the liver, and have also been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
Unlike supplements, whole plant foods are associated with better health outcomes in almost all health concerns. You cannot go wrong by providing tons of healthy recipes, high in fresh veggies.
4. Provide a Great Meal Plan
Once you have your client excited about exploring new foods, it's time to make the process of incorporating them simple and fun. Make sure you give her a great meal plan so she can hit the ground running. To help out with this, we've created a meal plan specially designed for PCOS.
This done-for-you meal plan includes:
- 7 days of low glycemic meals and snacks
- an itemized grocery list
- an easy-to-follow-prep guide
- plenty of fiber, cruciferous veggies, and lean protein
Our pre-made PCOS Diet gives you an amazing resource to provide your client with on her very first visit. Having a PCOS Diet ready for your client means you get to spend more time coaching them through powerful, emotional transformation, and less time creating resources.