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Home Blog Wellness Part Two: The Top Five Ways to Eat When You Have Insulin Resistant PCOS


Part Two: The Top Five Ways to Eat When You Have Insulin Resistant PCOS

6th August 2018
Anthia Koullouros

Written by Naturopath Stephanie Hinton. To make an appointment call 02 9380 7863.

In the first part of the two-part blog series I introduced insulin resistant PCOS. You can check that out here. Now onto the gritty stuff, how to eat when you’ve been diagnosed with insulin resistant PCOS. Many women can be overwhelmed and confused about the best way to eat for them. In clinical practise I have found these tips below to be a helpful starting point. I absolutely encourage you to work alongside a practitioner when implementing these changes, as every woman is different and what works for some doesn’t always work for others. This is where you need the help of an expert!

Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive in!

#1 Eliminate sugar.

This means cutting back on all sugar including ‘natural’ sugars (coconut, rice malt syrup, rapadura, panela), refined sugars (raw sugar, white sugar, icing sugar, and all the other types found in baked goods and sweetened drinks). You’ll also need want to avoid excessive consumption of high fructose fruits like banana, apple, pineapple, ripe pears etc. Instead stick with one portion of low fructose fruit per day eg mixed berries or half an apple with some nut butter. Eating less sugar will support your body’s insulin response. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a treat every now and then, but it’s about owning your condition and being honest with yourself. Is it a treat or is it a daily occurence?

# 2 Eat more good fats.

I know for some this totally goes against what you think you need to do to lose weight or be healthy. But I promise that eating natural sources of unprocessed monounsaturated and saturated fats will not only keep you satiated and away from the sugar, it will also support hormonal production required for the creation of your sex hormones and stabilise blood sugar to avoid those insulin spikes.

Go for:

  • Avocado in salads and on seeded bread.
  • Coconut yoghurt with some low fructose berries.
  • A small handful of unsalted macadamia nuts.
  • Walnuts scattered through a salad or on top of roast veg.
  • Nut butters spread on seeded bread or just a teaspoon to snack on.
  • Grass fed, organic butter, used for cooking.
  • Pepitas, sprinkled over salads.
  • Coconut butter, added to a hot cacao or raw treats (in moderation!)
  • Coconut oil, for cooking and added to soups and smoothies.

A CAVEAT: This is not a license to eat a tub of Pic’s peanut butter in one sitting while watching The Bachelor – though that would be nice. This is simply an invitation to opt for a high fat snack rather than a high sugar one and see how you feel.

# 3 Cut back on refined carbs.

I hate to be THAT person. In fact a few years ago, I would have happily eaten toast for brekky every day (even the healthy stuff). The truth is when eating carby foods, even when #organic #vegan #glutenfree you will still experience a rise in blood sugar resulting in increased insulin that the body is unable to synthesise. Bummer, I know.

To combat the lack of carbs:

  • Fill up on veggies. Add at least 2-3 cups of sautéed green veg to your plate.
  • Enjoy sweet potato and baked pumpkin (in moderate amounts) for your carby hit.
  • Go for ‘meatier’ veggies like field mushroom and eggplant to satisfy the need for bulk in your meal.
  • Make seed crackers as they’re full of yummy fats and low in carbs.

# 4 Eliminate dairy and soy.

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to dairy and soy but I highly recommend my patients eliminate these foods for at least 6 weeks and then we can analyse their symptoms. Studies are showing that eliminating or reducing dairy can help reduce incidences of acne related to PCOS and inflammatory conditions associated with other hormonal conditions.

Why soy though? Soy contains plant-derived xenoestrogens – oestrogens not generated within the endocrine system but consumed by eating phytoestrogenic plants. The problem with these xenoestrogens is that they mimic oestrogen and confuse the bodies endocrine (hormonal system). So when we’re working to balance these hormones the last thing you want to do is add some additional ones to the mix! I have found that when my clients reduce or eliminate soy intake they see a drastic improvement in hormonal symptoms associated with PCOS.

# 5 Eat adequate amounts of high-quality protein (but don’t go overboard).

Protein will keep you satiated, help balance blood sugar levels and is a super important macronutrient required for so many key functions in the body. In clinic I’ve found that women with hormonal issues are not eating enough protein in their diet. As soon as we make changes they start to feel like their energy increases and stabilises, their weight shifts and they have a clearer head. Eating a portion of protein at every main meal and a small amount with snacks is ideal. Opt for grass-fed, organic meats and poultry, wild caught seafood and organic soaked legumes. A general rule of thumb is a serving the size of your palm at main meals.


One last thing to consider… 

Can you metabolise caffeine?

Did you know that your genes can determine if you can metabolize caffeine effectively and safely?

There are specific enzymes and genes in the body that are required to break down caffeine. This group of enzymes is called the CYP450 enzymes. They are also required to eliminate other toxins in the body. Your ability to produce these enzymes is entirely down to the gene expression of your individual makeup. Some of us have these enzymes and many of us don’t.

Issues with this gene such as a mutation will determine whether you can metabolize caffeine. This is why for some, they can guzzle caffeine with no issues whereas other have just a whiff of coffee and they’re bouncing off the walls, suffering from anxiety and trying to keep their heart in their chest!

Studies have shown that those who have issues metabolising enzymes have an increased risk of heart attack and an increased risk of cyst formation in the ovaries and breasts.

When it comes to hormonal production and metabolism, the liver is SO important. If you are overdosing on caffeine, alcohol and other toxins, the liver becomes increasingly sensitive and overworked. If you lack the necessary CYP450 enzymes required to metabolise caffeine then you may also be lacking the ability to metabolise excess estrogen!

Excess estrogen that is not fully metabolised will then be recycled back into the body in a less stable and far more toxic form. This is where we start to have symptoms like PMS, PCOS, insulin resistance, fibroids, mood swings, unexplained weight gain, endometriosis and fertility issues.  This is why getting cutting back on coffee is so important! If you feel you may be struggling with anxiety, estrogen dominance, weight issues then try to cut your caffeine content in half.

As I mentioned before, these suggestions are just that. Always seek professional advice and listen to your body. To improve your health, manage your PCOS naturally and thrive please book in a consultation with me today. Together we can work on a achievable plan to support you.

Stephanie Hinton

Clinical Naturopath with a focus on female hormonal health