Many of you know some of my story of healing. I suffered with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) since I was a young teenager. Over the years, I began putting on more and more weight until I was nearly morbidly obese. I learned a lot about PCOS and how there is always an accompanying issue with Insulin Resistance.
Countless overweight women search the Internet looking for help in dealing with PCOS, hoping to find a natural cure to the harsh medications often prescribed that tend to cause other health concerns in our bodies. One of the most often asked questions is from women who have a pretty good understanding of PCOS. They want to know if they need to be careful with fruit consumption if they have PCOS and are trying to lose weight.
The easiest answer to this question is a simple, "Yes." However, in order to more easily lose weight, it's best to understand some of the "whys" when it comes to the changes we need to make in our diets if we have been diagnosed with PCOS, Insulin Resistance, or both.
First, if someone has PCOS, it's important to understand that the underlying problem is an issue with insulin resistance.When I was finally diagnosed with PCOS, after about 25 years of suffering with it, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the disorder.
I was seen by one of the top PCOS specialists at the time, an endocrinologist who not only specialized in PCOS, but did a lot of research and writing about the disorder. She was a horrible partner in health, speaking in a condescending way and insisting that only medication could keep the PCOS under control. I wasn't seeing her for her partnership in my health, however (although it would have been nice and made things easier for me). I was specifically seeing her to be accurately diagnosed and to learn as much as I could from someone with direct experience and knowledge with the syndrome.
Here are the basics of what I learned. First, PCOS is a hormonal issue that results in the ovaries not functioning properly. The hormonal disruption always stems from an issue with insulin resistance, even if tests for insulin resistance state otherwise. Specialists working with PCOS know, through experience, that if they can force the body to work with insulin in a balanced way, the PCOS will disappear. Eliminate insulin issues and you eliminate PCOS.
In order for those with PCOS to lose weight, they need to actively work on keeping their insulin levels balanced in a healthy way. In the beginning of making dietary changes, it's best to avoid high sugar meals. All sugar-rich foods should have some fat and protein included during ingestion, which will keep the sugar from spiking in the body.
Don't be hard on yourself, however. If you make it too hard in the beginning (eliminating *all* sweets from your diet), it's going to be harder to maintain the diet and lifestyle long-term. What you want is a lifetime fix for the problem, right? So, make the changes slowly and it will become a part of your lifestyle and you'll reap the benefits for the rest of your life.
Begin by keeping an eye on how much sweet food you are consuming on a daily basis. Then, try to make sure you are adding protein and fat with your sweets and see how that makes you feel. For me, when I started adding protein with my sweets, I began slowly losing weight (even before I started the raw food diet). So, maybe go ahead and begin making those changes, first.
When you are comfortable with adding protein and fat to your sweet meals, begin cutting back on the amount of sweets you are consuming each day. While you are doing this, start adding more delicious raw food meals to your diet. Do it in a way that feels rewarding, rather than restrictive. Seek out some raw food recipes that look delicious, but are low in sugar, and think of those dishes as treats that you'll reward yourself with as you cut back on the sweets that are keeping you from releasing the weight that you want to leave behind.
You'll eventually want to stick with low-glycemic fruits until you've reached a healthy weight (like berries and cherries). Once you've reached a more ideal weight for your body, you can begin slowly increasing the amount of sweeter fruits to see how your body handles them. You'll find that you are able to consume more of them once you are at a healthy weight and your body is better able to handle the insulin. It's going to be something you'll always want to keep an eye on, however, or else your weight may begin to increase again as your body struggles to maintain a balance.
What causes the insulin resistance in the first place, though? Some believe it is hereditary, others feel it is brought on by improper diet. It may not be easy to figure out what your particular cause of insulin resistance is, but at least you now have some guidelines to try out to see if they help you.
Let us know how you're doing with the changes. If anyone else has PCOS or insulin resistance issues, please leave a comment now to let us know what you are doing with your own diet to eliminate the problem and release excess weight.
Photo Credit: Photo by C.DelRio (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On July 12, 2011, wrote:
Thanks you for the article. I, however, can't quite grasp what's left when you reduce fruit on raw vegan diet. Nuts and greens just don't make it. Or do you have some guidelines on how much sugar is acceptable per meal/day?
Another piece of advice I've heard from professionals is to "excercise like no one's business". Pretty much we can teach body to use sugar for energy through intense exercise.
On July 25, 2011, wrote:
If you want to understand a low sugar raw vegan diet better, check out Rainbow Green by Dr. Cousens. :-)