Now this is not a blog post to tell you how to diet, what to eat or when to exercise. This post is my experience with all of the above and more. So when I was about twenty one my periods stopped for about eight months and I was growing hair in strange places all over my body. I remember discussing this with my dad. (I know, it’s a bit of an icky subject to talk to your dad about but he had quite an open mind and two sisters!)
When I mentioned this to my father he felt it didn’t sound right and suggested I book an appointment with the doctor. I was going to work on a summer camp in America and when I returned that is exactly what I had planned to do. However, while I was away my dad was listening to a programme on the radio and the subject was Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome, (PCOS). When I phoned home he told me about the programme and he felt that this is what I had. I love my dad for helping me in this way and again he suggested I book an appointment at the doctors.
After I came home I booked an appointment and the doctor sent me for a scan of my ovaries. The results of this test proved that I had PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition which affects a woman’s levels of the sex hormones. The estrogen and progesterone in the body are out of balance. It leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can affect a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
At the time, there was not a lot of information available about PCOS so I was told by the doctors to eat a healthy diet. That was it. In the years since I have been on an amazing journey learning about food and the body. I have tried many diets and taken lots of exercise programmes. However, I have never really felt happy with my body. Until now.
For those of you that don’t know, about two years ago I gave up sugar and processed foods, which I feel has helped me enormously. Sugar and processed foods I now believe are the causes of many illnesses. That and the stress we have in our daily lives. Please watch That Sugar Film for more information. However, it’s not just helped me to keep my weight down but also I feel it’s helped me with my emotions and my periods.
Before I gave up sugar I was on the Weight Watchers diet or ‘the starve yourself thin’ diet as my friend likes to call it. Which I have to admit wasn’t easy for me. The adverts will tell you that you can eat what you like whenever you want as long as you count the points. I used to save my points so I could eat more at the weekend. But I was hungry and still unhappy with my body. Don’t get me wrong I was slim but starving for 5 days a week.
When I started the Weight Watchers diet I was nearly three stone heavier than I am now. The weight just seemed to fall off me and I could fit into clothes I never had the confidence to wear before. It was amazing, I felt much better, but I was never 100 per cent certain of my choice.
While I was on the diet I visited a Homeopath. We had taken Ted our son to see Dawn, the homeopath and it was so effective for his reflux that I felt it may be good for me too. After a couple of visits Dawn explained to me that my sugar levels were too high and it may be a good idea to cut the sugar from my diet.
So I thought I would research it to find out more about cutting out sugar. When researching the subject I found websites dedicated to the subject of sugar. Please check out the links below for more information. I quickly began to realise that weight watchers advocates a lot of high sugar products and that these products I had been eating would need to go. I’m not blaming Weight Watchers, it’s just the system for the moment.
Then I started to look for other diets to go on and I found a couple. Firstly I tested the Sarah Wilson I Quit Sugar diet and the Davina McCall Sugar Free diet. These didn’t work for me either and I started to pile on the pounds again. Since then I have discovered why I may have put on weight from these diets. Both these diets advise high fat foods, like butter, milk and cheese and proteins like lamb and pork that I don’t think are suitable for a woman with PCOS.
In fact I now believe that every person has a different body that is changing and evolving and we all need to change what we are eating through different stages in life to help our body. I have found that milk, butter and cheese are too rich in calcium and I feel they really don’t help my body. After visiting an Acupuncturist on many occasions I have learnt a lot about Chinese medicine as well.
In Chinese medicine these foods would be considered cooling foods because they can contribute to a cooling effect on the reproductive organs. PCOS means that your uterus is a damp and stagnant place. The Chinese believe that what is needed are warming foods to reverse this situation. To nourish the ovaries I am now eating more warming foods. Spices like cinnamon and turmeric are great at kicking the body’s central heating system into gear.
Eating large quantities of red meat for me on the above two diets didn’t fill me up and I was left feeling tired and bloated. Since cutting out red meat and only eating it at weekends or on a special occasion I have began to feel full again. Nowadays I eat a lot of brown rice, quinoa and millet which are very filling. Foods like these ones help with the thyroid. As I’m a girl with PCOS I know that my thyroid function is poor and needs the glucose from these good carbohydrates.
Today I try to eat as naturally as possible. I make sure we have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We eat a lot of home cooked warm foods that I feel I’m helping my body and my family’s bodies. Cutting out the sugar and processed foods has definitely helped me. It’s wasn’t easy at first but I feel so much better now. If I do get an urge to eat naughty foods I think how I would feel and it really puts me off eating it.
Exercise and making sure I do a little bit every day is now a part of my daily routine. Even if it’s just walking Ted to pre-school and back I know that this is going to help me. Recently I have been trying to build my core and other muscles in my body but due to the PCOS I still don’t look like wonder woman. However, I feel better when I have done the exercise and that’s the main point.
In recent months, I have to be honest, I have put on a few pounds but I’m no longer hungry or tired after meals. I’m also learning to accept my body and I’m now working with it. When it tells me I’m hungry in between meals I respond by feeding it. Normally fruit but if I’m really hungry I add in a few nuts and seeds.
At the moment, my periods are at day 31 which I feel is brilliant for a woman who didn’t have a period for eight months. My husband and I are trying for a baby so I am having acupuncture once a month. I also see my homeopath occasionally for a general check up. For me, having a healthy diet and keeping away from the sugar is helping me.
While I was eating processed foods I felt as though my emotions could get out of control. Now I feel better, I still have my moments normally before a period is due but I feel much better than I did when these times hit me. Now I’m eating to live and I’m not eating to stay slim. If I put on weight it’s just my body type and I accept that. However, I’m going to do my best to stay in shape as it helps my body, mind and spirit. It has taken me over fifteen years to resolve these issues but I feel like I’m on the right path for me.
Websites that have helped me with my PCOS;