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PCOS Diet Plan: What Foods to Eat and Avoid

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Deccan Chronicle

Published on: October 9, 2022 | Updated on: January 19, 2023

Most of them have pre-diabetes or develop diabetes after the diagnosis. Managing your insulin level is important for a diabetic patient, even more, if you have PCOS.(Photo: Canva)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that affects every one out of 10 women. The major and most common symptom of PCOS is hormonal imbalance, which leads to a disturbed menstrual cycle. People with PCOS are also at a high risk of facing other medical problems, like depression, cardiovascular issues, and endometrial cancer.

Unfortunately, science hasn’t found a cure for PCOS yet, but certain changes in your lifestyle and diet can play an important role in improving your quality of life. This post is for women wondering which diet plan for PCOS patients is the best. Let’s learn more about the PCOS diet plan and what to eat & avoid.

How Does Diet affect PCOS?

Your diet affects your insulin resistance and weight management. A vast majority of people diagnosed with PCOS report a high insulin level, which is why people with PCOS are at an increased risk of diabetes.

Most of them have pre-diabetes or develop diabetes after the diagnosis. Managing your insulin level is important for a diabetic patient, even more, if you have PCOS. If your body doesn’t produce the required levels of insulin or is unable to utilize the insulin effectively, your glucose level will increase drastically. In an effort to ensure your cells absorb the glucose and your organs respond to the insulin, your body might pump out a large amount of insulin, which has side effects. Too much insulin means your ovaries will produce more testosterone. This can lead to acne, facial hair, baldness, and infertility.

Your diet is the only way to keep your blood sugar levels in check. An ideal diet for people with PCOS is one that maintains your weight, controls your blood sugar levels, and caters to your nutritional needs. Another challenge for people with PCOS is that they report frequent food cravings due to their slow metabolism rate. A poor metabolism results in sudden weight gain. So, in addition to the hormonal imbalance, you are at a high risk of developing diabetes and other medical conditions if you don’t follow a healthy diet.

Foods To Eat

What you eat has a significant impact on your body and energy levels. A good, balanced, and nutritious diet will definitely help improve your quality of life. That being said, there’s no standard PCOS diet chart that can guarantee a cure for this disorder. Certain foods, however, can be of great help. Watch out for the snacks or random foods you eat outside. A diet will directly affect your insulin levels.
Researchers have discovered the three best PCOS diet plans.

1. A Low GI Diet: A low glycemic diet is perfect for people with PCOS, as the foods are absorbed comparatively slower than other foods. It doesn’t lead to an insulin spike, which in turn, keeps your blood sugar levels in check. You should add more low-carb and unprocessed foods to your PCOS diet chart. Some of the best examples are legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Diet: This diet is full of vegetables and fruits that protect you from inflammation, which might occur due to high glucose levels. The diet favors
unprocessed foods. Add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats to your meals to stay fit. Alcohol must be avoided. Try whole grains, poultry, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, and spices that have inflammatory properties.

3. The DASH Diet: Dietary Approaches to Hypertension, commonly referred to as the DASH diet, is for your heart health. It improves your heart function and prevents the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The diet is also pretty helpful in managing PCOS. This is another PCOS diet food chart that consists of low-fat, unprocessed foods.

It is important to note that your diet doesn’t cure PCOS itself, but it prevents the symptoms. Following a DASH diet, for example, can help you lose belly fat and attain a healthy weight. Put it this way: a healthy PCOS diet consists of natural and unprocessed foods. In addition, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber can also help you achieve a perfect weight. Here’s the food list for PCOS patients.
Blueberries, blackberries, and cherry
Tuna, mackerel, and other fatty fishes
Almonds, peanuts, and walnut
Spices and fresh herbs
Leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach
Brown rice
Chia and sunflower seeds
Lean chicken
Coconut, coconut water, and oil

Green tea
Egg whites
Whole grains
Dark chocolate

You can follow whichever (of the above three) diets you like. The goal is to shed those extra pounds so you can be healthy and manage the symptoms of PCOS effectively. No matter which diet plan you follow, losing weight will improve your quality of life.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh foods come with many vital nutrients that provide energy without increasing your calorie count. Vegetables and fruits of all kinds are beneficial for your health, but green leafy vegetables rich in fiber are especially important. Leafy green vegetables, plums, and apples are a few examples of fiber-rich and nutrition-packed foods for PCOS patients. These are healthy for everyone trying to lose weight, in general. As mentioned above, focus on anti-inflammatory
foods like red vegetables and fruits. These can be very beneficial for people with PCOS. Some examples are red berries, cherries, grapes, and other red fruits.

Whole Grains

If you are looking for a PCOD diet plan to lose weight, add whole grains to your meals. The pasta, bread, cereal, brown rice, oats, and other whole grains are super healthy and full of nutrition. They control cholesterol and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Whole grains also help you in weight loss.

Food To Avoid

A PCOS diet excludes all the foods that should be avoided in general. If you want to stay healthy, you should follow a diet full of nutrients, such as whole grains, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based proteins, that can prevent your glucose levels from rising. Anything that’s not recommended for a normal person trying to lose weight is unhealthy for a PCOS patient too.Here’s a list of the foods a PCOS patient must avoid.

Baked goods, packaged sweet foods, any kind of food with added sugar
Caffeinated beverages
Starchy vegetables
Red meat
Frozen meals

Artificial sweeteners
Soda, energy drinks, and drinks featuring added sugar
Granola bars
Chips and popcorn


Low-fat dairy products in small amounts are okay, but full-fat dairy items are not good. Greek yogurt, for example, is fine as long as you take it in a moderate amount. You should replace dairy food with non-dairy alternatives. Some researchers have also linked dairy products to an increased risk of acne. Since your body produces more androgen hormones, you might experience acne, baldness, or facial hair. It’s best to replace full-fat dairy products with low-fat


The same goes for desserts. You should avoid sweets, except dark chocolate (in moderation). Packaged foods, pastries, and candies can be very harmful to PCOS patients. Sugar isn’t good for people with PCOS, as it increases the risk of inflammation. Since insulin levels are already high due to insulin resistance, eating sugar can worsen your symptoms. In addition, the more sugary foods and complex carbs you eat, the faster your weight will increase. Artificial sweeteners and packaged sweet foods are the worst things you can eat if you have PCOS. You can replace them with healthy desserts like Greek yogurt and fruits.


Drinking alcohol can worsen your PCOS symptoms. It is linked to increased estrogen and low progesterone levels, which might result in hormonal imbalance. Even consuming it occasionally is not a good idea if you are overweight or struggling to shed a few pounds. Alcohol can increase your calorie intake, in addition to causing other health issues. It’s best to avoid it.

Sweet Beverages

Caffeinated beverages are not healthy for PCOS patients. Coffee and tea can worsen your symptoms, and the same applies to all the sweetened drinks and high-sugar beverages that increase your calorie count drastically. Soda and energy drinks also contain a high level of sugar. You should stick to water. It’s the healthiest and safest way to keep your body hydrated. You can also try green tea and coconut water if you are craving flavors, but avoid drinks with added

Processed Foods

With a high Glycemic Index (GI), processed foods can quickly spike your blood sugar levels. As mentioned before, those with PCOS are at an increased risk of diabetes. So, anything with a high Glycemic Index is a big no.

Pcos Diet Chart
Dealing with PCOS symptoms can get pretty frustrating for women. It isn’t just the hormonal imbalance that leads to missed or delayed periods but poor metabolism and increased blood sugar levels can take a toll on your overall health. Although diet alone can’t help you manage PCOS, it does have a strong impact on your symptoms. A healthy diet is the only way to ensure that your blood sugar levels are normal and your weight is fine. You should consult a dietician to get a 7-day PCOS diet plan for healthy eating. If you are unsure what a PCOS diet includes, here’s an example.

Breakfast: Sugar-free beverage (tea/coffee) with vegetable oats, or you can have upama or Methi Paratha.
Pre-Lunch: You can have pre-lunch snacks if you have a large gap between lunch and breakfast. For pre-lunch, something light and low in GI is perfect. Try fruits or boiled channa. Raw vegetables are also good for pre-lunch.
Lunch: Vegetable or Chicken curry with a half cup of rice and salad. You can also have brown rice with Dal for lunch. Try to have protein-rich foods for lunch.
Evening Snacks: Then again, fruits and dry fruits with a low GI are perfect for evening snacks. You can also have tea (unsweetend) with a boiled egg.
Dinner: Mix vegetable curry, wheat upama, wheat dosa, ad roti are the best foods for dinner. Keep it light and eat for at least 2 hours before going to bed.

PCOS Diet Plan: Do’s And Don’ts
We have already mentioned everything you should and shouldn’t include in the PCOS diet.These do’s, and don’ts will sum up all the diet rules.

Do eat fiber-rich foods, as they digest slowly, control your cravings, and have a low glycemic index. All of these factors play a significant role in fighting insulin resistance. Cauliflower, broccoli, almonds, and pumpkin (to name a few) are rich in fiber and great for PCOS.
Do practice exercises, yoga, and weightlifting to keep your weight in check.

Do get adequate sleep.
Do eat more lean proteins. They might not be rich in fiber, but they have the same effect. They involve foods that digest slowly and stabilize your blood sugar levels for a longer period. It includes chicken, fish, and eggs.
Do keep a record of your menstrual cycle and work with a gynecologist to prevent complications from hormonal imbalance.
Do have foods with anti-inflammatory properties. This includes strawberries, spinach, turmeric, salmon, and more.

Do not eat carb-rich foods. They can cause inflammation and worsen your PCOS symptoms. Pastries, cakes, and muffins are a few examples of high-carb foods.
Do not drink alcohol or smoke.
Do not eat foods with added sugar. It is the primary cause of insulin resistance. No matter how much you crave sweets, avoid artificial sweeteners and foods containing a considerable amount of added sugar. Dark chocolates are okay, but that, too, is fine until you eat them in moderation.
Do not skip meals. The goal is to lose weight by following a healthy diet instead of avoiding food altogether.
Do not eat processed meats.

Bottom Line
Just knowing what foods to eat and avoid won’t help manage your glucose levels. A PCOS patient must take precautions in their dietary habits, just like a diabetic patient. When you eat and how much also matter. Consult a dietician to proper a PCOS diet plan. The above tips will help you manage PCOS symptoms.