If you've been following this blog you'll know that I'm more into natural ways of controlling PCOS than relying on pharmaceuticals like metformin and birth control pills. For me personally, my symptoms began to manifest after I'd decidedly taken on a lifestyle of ingesting large amounts of carbs and refined sugar with very little exercise (even though I was eating lots of fruits and veggies!).
It's been 1year since I started blogging about my journey through PCOS and infertility and I'd like to say there has been a great improvement in my condition. Just thought I'd share a list of things I have been doing consistently for almost a year now.
1. Oats for breakfast. I have organic oats every morning for breakfast. To this I add 2 tablespoons of wheat bran, 2 tablespoons of wheat germ, 1 tablespoon of oat bran and I finish it off by sprinkling sunflower seeds or mixed seeds and muscovado sugar. I know I complained about oats but I've grown to love it so much so that if I don't have it for breakfast, I don't feel like I've eaten breakfast.
2. Flaxseed (linseed). Two table spoons per day. I will happily rant and rave about this because I noticed almost immediately when I started taking it that my PMS symptoms reduced dramatically. A lot of websites talk about linseed oil, but I personally prefer the whole seed to the powder or oil. To maximise the benefit from eating it whole I first soften it by soaking in a glass of boiling water for about 1 hour without stirring, then drink the water and chew the seed which are by now crunchy and slimey... Yum!
3. Whole foods. That is foods that have not been processed or refined; foods that aren't pre cooked and packaged with use by dates. If I have to eat bread, it must be whole meal; if it's rice it has to be brown; etc. I also eat lots of plant protein (at least every other day).
4. Glass of warm lemon juice first thing in the morning. Or two tablespoons of vinegar diluted in a glass of water. I alternate between the two for variety's sake (sipped through a straw to avoid enamel corrosion).
5. I cook everything I eat. Except for maybe once a month when I treat myself to my favourite burger; lamb burger, Yum!! Even so I usually substitute the top bun for loads of salad.
6. Tea. Lots of tea... I guzzle it up by the cupfuls daily... I have them all, green tea, ginger tea, camomile tea, rooibus tea, assam tea, black tea, peppermint tea, spearmint tea, fenugreek tea. I've developed into a tea enthusiast and as I write this I have some new flavours in mind that I can't wait to try.
7. I'm not a full vegetarian and I will never be. But I eat lots of veggies and my primary source of aminal protein is mostly fish and prawns. I have meat once in a while.
8 Exercise. 30 mins to 1 hour every other day. I walk a lot too in-between, on days when I don't workout. AND I would like to attempt a 5K marathon this summer. Still plucking up the knowledge and training for that. (actually started training, sprained my ankle, limped around for a whole week and haven't started again)
9. I'm not into low fat diet. I personally don't believe in low fat diets for two reasons. Firstly, when I go low fat it makes me crave fatty foods even more, and secondly, I noticed that when I introduced healthy fats in my diet I began to lose weight again. Those oils are mostly sunflower, olive, coconut oil, palm oil and organic butter.
10. Yoghurt. Full fat yoghurt with my oats every morning, did this for several months. Initially I was afraid because of the hormones in milk and also the glycemic effect of milk but I've been doing it for a while now and there have been no untoward effects. However, these days I've switched from yoghurt to skimmed milk. Even more, I only take a couple of teaspoons with my tea daily.
11. I used to do expensive multi vitamins, but, having realized that with a healthy diet and more balanced hormones I could do without, I haven't bothered replacing the last batch that ran out. I would still recommend for those starting out. As time goes and you are more informed about what the body needs, you'll be able to acquire all the nutrients you need from food.
12. Cut out exposure to hormone/endocrine disrupters. These includes creams and any cosmetics with paraben, warming foods in plastics inside the microwave, canned foods, prepared foods in plastic covers, and non-stick cookware. Research has shown that exposure to PCB's commonly found in non-stick cook wares can lead to premature menopause. The use of BPA has been banned in baby bottles in several countries. Better to be safe than sorry I'd say. Besides, with PCOS our systems are already highly sensitive to the slightest hormonal changes, I think it's better to severely cut down or avoid these things entirely.
All these tips are a starting point, there are plenty more online, with a bit of research. What's most important is to find what works for you. Whenever you cut something out of your diet, or introduce something new, it's very important to monitor the effects it has on your body so you can eliminate foods that worsen your symptoms and know those that are 'good' for you.
After all said and done, I have started taking Metformin to improve my chances of success when I start my IUI in a couple of months. I am not taking it to manage my symptoms, and I've said numerous times on my blog that I don't recommend taking it on a long term basis to manage PCOS symptoms. Since it has been scientifically proven to improve the chances of ovulation in conjunction with Clomid (I'll explain in my next post) I figured I would do everything I can to boost my chances. But I do get preggers, it and I would immediately part ways again.