Managing PCOS with Nutrition

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is common among women and can affect weight, fertility, menstruation, and mental health. This syndrome affects 1 in 10 women and it also can lead to other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycle, unwanted excess facial hair, facial, back and chest acne, thinning hair, and dark spots on skin. 

Research shows that with a healthy diet and adequate exercise, it can help manage PCOS. Focusing on food groups with the right kind of nutrients can improve overall health in general and help manage symptoms caused by PCOS. 

Below you can learn a healthy eating plan to manage PCOS and what foods to focus on and what foods to avoid. 

Eating Plan: 

Try to eat 4-5 meals a day. Don’t skip meals. Your body needs a good amount of nutrients everyday to keep up. Choose high-nutrient foods. Avoid empty calories. Women with PCOS should either be managing weight or trying to lose weight to avoid obesity and diabetes. 

It can be beneficial to follow MyPate. For every meal try to include a good serving of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. There are a few modifications to make for PCOS. 

For vegetables, choose low-starch vegetables such as leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, bell peppers, and brussel sprouts. Vegetables should take up half your plate. 

Cook your veggies in healthy fats such as avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter. Top with nuts and seeds!

For carbohydrates choose carbohydrate-dense whole foods. This includes sweet potatoes, quinoa, squash, beans, rice, fruits or oats. This food group should take up a quarter of your plate. 

For protein the best sources for PCOS are poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, tofu, and grass-fed beef. This should also take up a quarter of your plate. 

To combat insulin resistance, women should eat more dietary fiber. This includes beans, berries, chia seeds, green peas, and lentils. 

It also is beneficial to include more anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, green leafy veggies, salmon, and olive oil. 

To avoid overeating, practice mindful eating. Don’t eat while distracted, take your time chewing, observe how the food makes you feel, and stop eating when you are full. Learn how to correctly balance and portion your meals. 

Foods to avoid:

Research shows that avoiding certain foods will again improve overall health and help manage symptoms. These foods include high sugary drinks (soda and artificially flavored juices), fried foods, processed meats (sausage and hotdogs), refined carbs (white bread, pasta, and pastries, and processed foods (candy, icecream, cakes and cookies). Those with PCOS may also benefit from reducing consumption of dairy. Dairy can affect insulin and hormone levels in those with PCOS, and therefore make symptoms worse. Schedule a call with Alli to learn about some dairy-free foods that she recommends to her PCOS clients.

Eating these foods can lead to worsened symptoms and bad health. 


Having PCOS does not take your life away. It is 100% manageable. Even women without PCOS should be taking their health seriously. 

Focus on balancing your meals with nutrient-dense foods and get a good amount of exercise everyday. Maybe join support groups to surround yourself with people dealing with the same situation. 

For more information and guidance below we have a guide for PCOS and Nutrition that we’re offering to readers for FREE! Use code PCOSBLOG to download this!

A Nourished Guide: PCOS & Nutrition 

If you want more one-one-one help, schedule a call with our registered dietitian for guidance and support! 

Schedule A Call with Alli

This article was written by Lanie Hagler, nutrition intern of Nourished Routes. Editing completed by our Registered Dietitian.

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