Although International guidelines recommend diet and lifestyle intervention for managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), few women are getting the appropriate referral to benefit from this intervention.
The truth is most women get nutrition information from the internet, and some of the advice on the internet can be downright harmful. In fact, getting incorrect nutrition advice may derail your journey to managing your PCOS symptoms.
Now more than ever, getting information from the right source is important to avoid being a casualty in this era of information overload.
Why do you need nutritional counseling for PCOS?
The management of PCOS follows a multidisciplinary approach. This means you will work with several different professionals, including a reproductive endocrinologist, an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN), a dermatologist, and a registered dietitian nutritionist. Each professional plays an important role in managing your PCOS symptoms.
Since diet and lifestyle measures are the first-line choices in treating PCOS, getting the appropriate nutritional counseling will help you manage your symptoms. However, some women with PCOS follow certain dietary recommendations from the internet or friends that can prove harmful in the long run. These harmful practices include food restriction, taking laxatives, diet pills, fad diets, and excessive exercise. These practices can increase anxiety towards certain foods and even lead to a serious eating disorder.
In truth, the market is saturated with various dietary supplements and other medical claims that may not be right for you. However, working with a registered dietitian/nutritionist will help you get verified information on different PCOS management strategies.
During a counseling session with a registered dietitian/nutritionist you will work together to set nutrition goals to improve your health, conduct a comprehensive assessment to gain a deeper understanding of your health by discussing your medical conditions, medications, blood tests etc. and create personalized nutrition and supplement recommendations that are tailored fit to your specific and unique needs. This will take into account your energy needs and the macro and micronutrient composition of your diet and address the route cause of your condition.
A study examining the effects of exercise and nutritional counseling on the reproductive function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) found that exercise and nutritional counseling may improve fasting insulin levels and help with other metabolic and reproductive abnormalities associated with PCOS.
Who is an RD or RDN?
A registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian and nutritionist (RDN) are food and nutrition experts who have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university program. They have also completed a comprehensive internship program supervised by an accredited dietetic body .
These professionals are highly trained to provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to people with certain health conditions including but not limited to those struggling to conceive, struggling with weight management or those suffering from food intolerance. Through constant research and education, RDs or RDNs help deliver reliable, life-changing advice tailored to your specific health concerns and challenges.
Challenges with weight management for women with PCOS?
Many women with PCOS report that they find it difficult to lose and maintain their weight due to motivational, environmental, and hormonal factors.
Some challenges that can present a barrier to maintaining a healthy weight with PCOS include:
A common challenge for women with PCOS who want to maintain a healthy weight is increased food cravings, which can sometimes be severe. A study published in 2016 found that a lot of women with PCOS suffer from food cravings.
Impaired ghrelin and leptin levels
Ghrelin and leptin are hormones that play an important role in appetite regulation. Ghrelin regulates appetite, while leptin regulates satiety. In women with PCOS, ghrelin levels appear to be lower, whereas leptin levels appear to be higher than in the normal population.
Women with PCOS tend to be less satiated and more hungry after eating than women without PCOS. One study found that women with PCOS get hungry faster and also have higher energy intake than women without PCOS.
Higher prevalence of eating disorders
Many studies have found that women with PCOS are more prone to eating disorders than women without PCOS. However, scientists do not yet know why this happens.
Exposure to inaccurate nutrition advice:
Many women with PCOS often seek unauthorized sources for advice and lifestyle modification. Some of these lifestyle modification techniques lack evidence and are unlikely to be applied consistently, often resulting in a lack of success and frustration in maintaining a healthy weight.
What are the advantages of consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist?
A sustainable approach to eating and exercise:
Many people quit their journey to maintaining a healthy weight with PCOS because they focus solely on weight loss. A registered dietitian understands that a healthy and sustainable approach to eating and exercise provides more long-term benefits rather than solely focusing on weight loss. These professionals will help you create diet plans and exercise patterns that can help you stay healthy while also keeping the weight off.
Tailoring dietary changes to food preference
Another reason why people cannot maintain a healthy weight with PCOS is that they follow a very restrictive diet plan. A registered dietitian will help you tailor your dietary changes to your food preferences. This individualized approach allows for flexibility and sustainability while promoting healthy eating.
A registered dietitian does more than just create a meal plan for you to follow. They also provide emotional support and advice on lifestyle changes as well.
When you work with a registered dietitian, you get additional education on PCOS. They will help you understand what may trigger some of your symptoms, such as inflammation and insulin resistance. They also teach you how to read food labels, identify the best fertility PCOS supplements, and boost fertility.
Assess supplement and medication compliance:
Rather than just selling you supplements or vitamins for PCOS fertility, a registered dietitian will also follow up on whether these supplements and medication are helping your symptoms. They will also want to know if you are taking it as you should.
How Do I Find an RDN Who Specializes in PCOS?
If you are looking to meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) skilled in PCOS for an individualized dietary and lifestyle approach to managing your symptoms, then book a free PCOS strategy call with Nicole Holness.
Nicole Holness is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is experienced in helping women with their hormone health, reproductive health (fertility, pregnancy, postpartum), gut health, and overall wellness. Nicole will help you develop a plan to improve your diet to lead to a healthy lifestyle with PCOS.
The best part is Nicole also has a culinary degree, so not only will she create a nutritious diet plan tailored around the foods you love, you can be sure the food will be delicious too. Book a free strategy call today to get started.
International evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome 2018| https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1412644/PCOS_Evidence-Based-Guidelines_20181009.pdf
Effects of exercise and nutritional counseling in women with polycystic ovary syndrome| https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16900227/
Becoming a Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist|https://www.eatrightpro.org/-/media/eatrightpro-files/career/become-an-rdn-or-dtr/becoming-a-registered-dietitian.pdf
Binge eating behaviours and food cravings in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome |https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S019566631630705X?via%3Dihub
Ghrelin and Measures of Satiety Are Altered in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome But Not Differentially Affected by Diet Composition |https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/89/7/3337/2844354
Providing lifestyle advice to women with PCOS: an overview of practical issues affecting success| https://bmcendocrdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12902-021-00890-8