What is PCOS really?

This special PCOS series written by nutrition grad student Kimberly Singh aims to help you understand PCOS, improve your relationship with food, and advocate for better care. She experiences PCOS too and gets the struggle.

 

What is PCOS?

PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders in those assigned female at birth, creating a hormonal imbalance that leads to a variety of symptoms. People with PCOS tend to have high levels of insulin and androgens (like testosterone), causing symptoms that affect their overall health, fertility, appearance, and metabolism.

What causes PCOS?

PCOS seems to be related to a combination of environmental factors and genetics. There are both maternal and paternal genetic links to PCOS. I was surprised when I linked my PCOS to my father’s female relatives.

Environmental factors that affect PCOS include geographic location, exposure to industrial products, and changes to the food system. Agricultural changes that affect the food system may also influence the development of PCOS. Some environmental factors are out of your control, and I know this can feel frustrating.

As I have learned about the environmental factors that influence my PCOS, I can understand how to better nourish my body through what I can control. I look forward to sharing how changes in the food system affect PCOS.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Grab a FREE download from Julie here.

Did my weight cause my PCOS?

Nope. Your weight did not cause your PCOS. A lot of health-related guilt can surround existing at a higher weight, but numerous studies show that weight gain does not cause PCOS. 

Should I wait to worry about my PCOS when/if I want to get pregnant?

You may not want to have children now or ever, but you can still manage your PCOS. PCOS affects more than just your fertility. It’s associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, anxiety, depression, and endometrial cancer. PCOS can also influence your cravings and how your body uses energy from food. Managing your PCOS can improve your overall health and energy regardless of if you are trying to get pregnant.

Is there a cure for PCOS?

There is not a cure for PCOS. This may seem scary, and you may be wondering if there is a special secret remedy to get rid of PCOS forever. The Internet may try to sell you on a special diet or remedy, and it may seem appealing, but I know you won’t fall for it!

Although there is not a cure for PCOS, there are many ways to manage it. In addition to various types of treatment, there are lots of changes you can make to your lifestyle in order to manage your PCOS.

A lifestyle change-I’m sure you have heard this before.

Suggesting a lifestyle change is usually accompanied by a friendly spiel about diet and exercise. Although nutrition and movement are important components of managing PCOS, there are many other aspects of your life! These may include learning ways to manage stress, build support, advocate for your needs, and, perhaps most importantly, how to listen to your body.

Stay tuned to learn more about these in future posts. Growing in these areas can help you manage PCOS.

In my experience, using a wholesome approach to managing PCOS helps me feel like I’m working with my PCOS, not against it.

It helps me work in sync with my body, and I hope it helps you do the same.

Let’s continue this conversation in the Facebook PCOS Support Group. Click here to join! Who in your family experiences PCOS too? Suspect someone else does yet never diagnosed? Wonder if best to let them know so they can get help too?

References

Diamanti-Kandarakis, E., Christakou, C., & Marinakis, E. (2012). Phenotypes and Enviromental Factors: Their Influence in PCOS. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 18(3), 270-282. doi:10.2174/138161212799040457

Dumesic, D. A., Oberfield, S. E., Stener-Victorin, E., Marshall, J. C., Laven, J. S., & Legro, R. S. (2015). Scientific Statement on the Diagnostic Criteria, Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Molecular Genetics of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Endocrine Reviews, 36(5), 487-525. doi:10.1210/er.2015-1018

Hayek, S. E., Bitar, L., Hamdar, L. H., Mirza, F. G., & Daoud, G. (2016). Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome: An Updated Overview. Frontiers in Physiology, 7. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00124

Merkin, S. S., Phy, J. L., Sites, C. K., & Yang, D. (2016). Environmental determinants of polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 106(1), 16-24. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.05.011

Polycystic ovary syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html

The Love Food Podcast Episode 49 with Jennifer McGurk

049-image

Are you trying to reconnect to your own innate wisdom with your body and food? Do you feel obsessed with food, especially during the holiday season? Has “clean-eating” become the focal point of your life, and does the idea of eating non “clean” foods make you anxious? Listen now for some ways to combat the holiday diet stress, and to free yourself from the guilt around food.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • Food is something that connects us to our family and our culture, but diet culture makes food WAY too important and obsessive, and that preoccupation removes the connecting and pleasurable components of food.
  • Use the hashtag #foodpeace to join in my discussion about alternatives to diets throughout the next few weeks, which are bound to be full of diet talk (January is national dieting month!).
  • Finding pleasure in food contributes to your overall quality of life and health!!
  • Food provides a connection to people around us, and when we get in the way of that, EVERYTHING suffers.
  • Orthorexia: a condition in which a person relates to food in a moralized way (think “good” and “bad” foods) that becomes overwhelming and creates a negative relationship to food.
  • Jennifer McGurk joins for some more insight on food peace!
  • Our culture places so much emphasis on health, and conflates weight loss and clean eating with being healthy.
  • WE GIVE FOOD WAY TOO MUCH POWER!!!
  • How do we change our relationship with food and find food peace? How do we take back our power and control in our lives without trying to exercise power and control over our food?
  • The ways in which we relate to food can be a metaphor for other things that we are struggling with in our lives!
  • Orthorexia may not be a full-blown eating disorder, but it IS a form of disordered eating… we don’t know enough about it yet to really have a full grasp of its impact on mental health.
  • First step to healing: make a list of pros and cons of eating in this “clean,” controlled way.
    • Pros: control
    • Cons: guilt, disconnection from family and friends around food because you can’t join them in certain meals, thoughts and emotions are obsessive about food and make you feel out of control, sacrificing parts of your life!
    • So do the cons outweigh the pros??
  • Recovery from orthorexia takes time! Working with an eating disorder dietitian can help, as well as proper nutrition education (we need “healthy” foods just as much as we need “unhealthy” foods!).
  • Increased moodiness and decreased sleep is a big sign of disordered eating.
  • Carbohydrates are IMPORTANT!!!
  • Taking the focus off the food and focusing more on individual positive health may be a helpful mindset shift.
  • Let’s label food not as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” but just as what it is. An apple is an apple, plain and simple. Bring food back to the present, rather than interacting with food in an anxiety-driven, future focused, “Is this food going to kill me????” kind of way.
  • ALL FOODS FIT!
  • “Clean eating is washing your food and making sure that it’s cooked to the right temperature. There is no such thing as dirty eating unless your food literally comes from the ground and has dirt on it.” – Jennifer
  • Orthorexia carries implications for those around us… if some of us are eating “clean,” then are the rest of us eating dirty??? NO!
  • Eating “well” doesn’t have to be black and white… we can eat our ice pops and also go to the farmers market.
  • “Our relationships are more important than our food choices.” – Julie
  • Nutritional health has a lot more to do with our mental health and our emotional health than we’ve ever realized before… let’s cross our fingers for some more research!!
  • Let’s give ourselves permission to have fun with food and our family… Just remember, how would it feel to be at peace with food?
  • “The importance of mental health as it impacts our physical health cannot be ignored.” – Julie
  • Having such rigid rules around food may actually result in negative consequences to our health.
  • Food is just not as black and white as we want it to be… apples won’t cure all ills and cheeseburgers won’t kill us!
  • You don’t need forgiveness for the food choices you make!!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.

gmfr-logo

This episode is sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
Join Green Mountain at Fox Run for their Binge & Emotional Eating Weekend Intensive (January 20-22, 2017). Participants will explore personal barriers and how to counter them with evidence-based strategies to prevent eating in response to stress and emotions. For more information or to register, please visit https://www.fitwoman.com/therapy-services-eating-disorder/offerings/binge-eating-intensive-weekend/.

Immerse yourself in a practice of mindfulness. Join Green Mountain at Fox Run for “Mindfulness for Women Who Struggle With Food and Body – A Meditative Retreat”, designed to help you reduce stress, eat well, move joyfully, and guide the way toward ending eating and food struggles. For dates and registration information, please visit

www.fitwoman.com/weight-loss-program-reinvented/2017-mindfulness-weekend/.

The Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating at Green Mountain at Fox Run is the only clinical program in the nation solely for women suffering with binge & emotional eating. Their insurance-eligible program is backed by over 40 years of experience and is staffed by licensed clinicians. Their program has created life-altering changes by helping women to manage emotional overeating through the practice of mindfulness. For more information, visit www.fitwoman.com/binge.

The Love Food Podcast Episode 47

ep-047-image

Have you worked really hard to stop hating your body but feel like your family keeps holding you back? Do you find yourself dealing with the food police within your own family, even after you’ve begun to make peace with food yourself? Do you have family that encourages fat shaming and diet culture, even when you feel like you’re doing your best to rid yourself of the mindset?? Listen now as Julie tackles this family-oriented topic and introduces some solutions.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • What is the experience of finding peace with food while family members surrounding us stay stuck in the diet mentality?
  • Fat shaming can come from people we care about!
  • Setting our own boundaries is SUPER important in trying to protect your own recovery.
  • The world that we live in isn’t one of body-positivity, HAES, and size acceptance. This means that when we pursue recovery, we are going against the vast majority of society, and sometimes that means our families. This makes the work harder to do, but it is that much more important!
  • Going against family dynamics is super hard, and when we actively follow our own path, it is common to feel pressure to go with the flow and back off of our own personal work in order to appease the family.
  • When we RECOGNIZE any emotion we are having, it automatically diffuses it and breaks its power.
  • How to beat body comparison: recognize the emotion, remove its power, and counteract with readily available responses of self-compassion.
  • How do we connect with our self-compassion?? We must actively find ways to support self-compassion for the moments in which we feel vulnerable.
  • Remember, our feelings and experiences are not going to last forever!!
  • Have some ready-made comebacks to assert your recovery, either by facing it head on or by changing the subject.
  • Surviving the Holidays and National Diet Month : #SoAnyway
  • How do we empower ourselves to connect to peace and health and feeling comfortable in our own skin?
  • When we provide new visuals for ourselves that are more size-diverse, it provides another option for our brains to think that OTHER kinds of bodies are beautiful too!
  • IT’S NOT OUR JOB TO FIX OUR FAMILY!
  • We should spend our energy on keeping ourselves safe, setting our own boundaries, and focusing on ensuring that we are providing the best modeling for our own family in terms of having a healthy relationship with food.
  • Embrace self-compassion, boundaries, and self-care.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.

gmfr-logo

This episode is sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
Immerse yourself in a practice of mindfulness. Join Green Mountain at Fox Run for “Mindfulness for Women Who Struggle With Food and Body – A Meditative Retreat”, designed to help you reduce stress, eat well, move joyfully, and guide the way toward ending eating and food struggles. For dates and registration information, please visit

www.fitwoman.com/weight-loss-program-reinvented/2017-mindfulness-weekend/.

The Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating at Green Mountain at Fox Run is the only clinical program in the nation solely for women suffering with binge & emotional eating. Their insurance-eligible program is backed by over 40 years of experience and is staffed by licensed clinicians. Their program has created life-altering changes by helping women to manage emotional overeating through the practice of mindfulness. For more information, visit www.fitwoman.com/binge.

The Love Food Podcast Episode 45

ep-45-image

Do you have a health situation that makes intuitive eating difficult? Do you have doctors telling you that weight loss and cutting out certain food groups is required for your wellbeing? Do you just feel lost and want to help guide yourself toward food peace?? Listen now for some first steps on how to tackle it all.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • Reflections on the 2016 Election, the President-elect Donald Trump, and the fat phobia that has come along with his campaign.
  • The difficulty in choosing not to diet, and dealing with the pressures from outside sources to continue down that path.
  • Using food as a coping mechanism and a numbing agent for uncomfortable feelings.
  • The vulnerability and fear of being thin.
  • Coping with health issues, such as PCOS, while also dealing with a disordered relationship with food and your body.
  • PCOS: weight gain, hormone destabilization, fatigue… what do we do??
  • Does intuitive eating really work for PCOS?? Or does “healing” PCOS require weight loss, as so many doctors suggest?
  • The million dollar question: can someone work on intuitive eating (rather than dieting) AND manage their health with PCOS? HELL YES!
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: a genetic and environmental syndrome that affects someone’s hormones, which leads to high insulin levels and insulin resistance. These high insulin levels lead to a high drive to eat, especially carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. Weight loss is often the primary treatment from most practitioners. This can make delving into intuitive eating difficult! Other sympotoms can include hair growth and male pattern baldness. These symptoms can have a huge negative impact on the body image of someone dealing with PCOS.
  • Self-care needs to be a priority for people with PCOS, especially getting enough sleep.
  • Those affected with PCOS can actually use the delicate balance of their bodies to delve deeply into intuitive eating! Take notice of energy levels and mood, rather than weight and even hunger cues (hunger cues can be super difficult to interpret with PCOS!).
  • Those with PCOS will probably need more protein than those without, especially at breakfast and before bed, to help with fatigue and appetite (but don’t cut out carboydrates or fats!).
  • Focus on healing your body and your soul… Sometimes, it’s not about the food!!
  • Sit with your vulnerability. (This is where therapy can come in handy! Therapists allow us the space to sit in that feeling.)
  • Put weight loss on the back burner and check in with your body… how does it feel today? What self-care did I do that worked for me today? This will help lead you to food peace and body peace.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.

gmfr-logo

This episode was sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
VIP Upgrades at Green Mountain at Fox Run
On stays November 6 – December 17, 2016
Green Mountain at Fox Run is offering special upgrades for one+ week reservations through the end of the year. Receive a free room upgrade and $250 credit towards amenities and professional services.
See Details

The Love Food Podcast Episode 43

ep-043-image

Are you ready to heal your relationship with food yet stuck?? How do you make amends with food and your body when disordered eating is all you’ve known? Are you ready to make a change yet unsure of the steps? Listen now for a new set of directions.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • Julie needs your letters! Send your letter detailing your complicated relationship with Food to LoveFoodPodcast@Gmail.com.
  • You’ve been fighting for many years and I appreciate that is exhausting!
  • The doctor’s comment did not cause this struggle yet totally F-ed it up! Doctors pointing out fat bodies as wrong happens too often and leads to distrusting the body and feeling unacceptable. I wish health providers knew their power to prevent eating disorders especially when a mom brings her child in concerned about disordered eating. To health providers: don’t say they should lose weight or exercise more!!
  • Shame in the food choices: food dichotomy doesn’t promote health. Food isn’t supposed to have this much power and pride.
  • Food gets too much power. It doesn’t deserve it!
  • Bulimia’s behaviors promote fluid shifts, puffiness, and body shame.
  • Relationships heal this. They are much more important and valuable than this eating disorder.
  • Next steps are painful BUT all worth it because recovery will allow these relationships to continue to blossom and fulfill your life.
  • You need to choose from a “healthy” weight loss journey OR eating disorder recovery? Can’t have both. We can’t make peace with food AND pursue weight loss. Pursuing weight loss will only enhance eating disorder behavior and negative body image.
  • Healthy relationships are not compatible with the eating disorder.
  • Unconditional acceptance and respect is what is missing.
  • Take it slow. Day by day. Surround yourself with helpers. Be mindful to pick a helper that is body positive.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.

gmfr-logo

This episode was sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
VIP Upgrades at Green Mountain at Fox Run
On stays November 6 – December 17, 2016
Green Mountain at Fox Run is offering special upgrades for one+ week reservations through the end of the year. Receive a free room upgrade and $250 credit towards amenities and professional services.
See Details