How to Resist PCOS-Related Hunger | PCOS Clinic Chennai

PCOS management includes a weight loss diet as an integral part of lifestyle modification, especially for obese women.  This can become even more challenging when women with PCOS are prone to PCOS-related hunger, food cravings, and binge eating. It can be frustrating when hunger dominates the efforts towards a healthy lifestyle but it is possible to find relief naturally with guidance on diet and physical activity. PCOS-related hunger is mostly caused by an altered response to hormones, insulin resistance, and certain deficiencies that end up promoting to overeat. Most women diagnosed with PCOS will need the help of the best doctor for PCOS in Chennai to identify the factors causing hunger. One may need to listen to the body in order to know where to start and what works best for her. Being ready to start managing PCOS-related hunger would be the first step followed by dietary changes with PCOS meal plans, tips to prevent food cravings, and staying active.

Dr Manu Lakshmi, MB, DA, MRCOG ( UK) FIMSA, FUSG. FRM.

PCOS related hunger and hormones

In women with PCOS, there are four main hormones, namely insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid that are of concern when related to hunger.

Insulin – is a substance that promotes loss of appetite or a feeling of fullness after a meal. With PCOS, the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels may be impaired which is called insulin resistance, increasing the tendency to unnecessary eating without real physiological hunger or the need for energy.

Leptin – is a hormone released by fat cells that informs the brain that it no longer needs to eat. When there is an abundance of fat, there should be no eating as much. Women with PCOS have problems controlling food intake because their brain’s response to leptin is not good.

Ghrelin – Ghrelin, and Leptin are always mentioned together because these two hormones act in coordination to help the body to start and stop eating. Ghrelin is secreted when the body needs sustenance. Its function is to increase food intake and promote fat storage.

Thyroid – decides when and how hungry one is. Thyroid problems are common in women with PCOS and this affects the hormones that can contribute to appetite control problems.

Happy hormones to overcome PCOS related hunger

PCOS being a stressful condition, eating happens to be the fastest way to feel emotionally good, leading to stress eating. In stress eating, the brain wants a “feel good” release, and food is often seen as the easiest way to secrete happy hormones. Steps to overcome unmindful eating involve:

  • Manage insulin levels – The first line of treatment for insulin resistance as well as PCOS is to upgrade diet and lifestyle. This means, to replace inflammatory foods that spike insulin levels with foods that nourish and reduce inflammation. Secondly, getting glucose levels tested and taking an insulin-sensitizing medication as advised by the specialist at the PCOS and fertility treatment in Chennai can help.

  • Overcome leptin resistance – Avoiding processed food, a high fiber diet and better sleep habits are ways to improve signaling response to hormones.

  • Exercise – Happy hormones are released and blood sugar can be balanced better with regular exercise. Food craving when not hungry at all, can be overcome by doing the exact opposite of indulging in physical activity.

  • Escape boredom – There are many ways other than food to entertain while feeling bored. Instead of eating sweet or salty foods, trying to find entertainment or distraction can help. A short walk, playing games, reading, or meeting a friend are some of the ways of distraction.

  • Healthy snacking – At times of real hunger and need to eat, one can prepare by stocking up on healthy, nutrient-rich snacks like berries, nuts, sprouts, hummus, green tea, and dark chocolate.

Tips to resist food cravings in PCOS-Related hunger

Emerging evidence has revealed that disordered eating, particularly the symptom of binge-eating is overrepresented in women with PCOS. The importance of weight management, diet, and exercise presents a clinical dilemma in the management of PCOS as the treatment approaches pose potential for harm in women with disordered eating habits. Following are some tips in the management strategies of binge eating in PCOS.

  1. Don’t Skip Meals – eating every three to five hours is the best to control sugar levels. The longer without food, the lower the blood sugar, making the brain believe that sugary foods are especially attractive.

  2. Consume whole-grain foods – quinoa, oats, and brown rice are whole grains that take longer for the body to break down and absorb, allowing a more gradual blood sugar regulation.

  3. Focus on Protein – not having enough protein in the meal could be one of the contributing causes for constant food cravings. Insulin levels are not raised by proteins as much as carbohydrate foods do, thus protein-rich meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

  4. Don’t buy tempting foods – Buying unhealthy foods from the grocery store can be totally avoided. When shopping for food, avoid tempting foods and don’t food shop when feeling hungry. Having groceries delivered home can keep away from the temptation to buy favorite foods.

  5. Ask if eating is needful – Before binge eating, ask if eating is really necessary. Eating will only temporarily calm, soothe, satisfy or distract from emotions and feelings. Instead, one may sit and wait for the urge for eating to fade away.

  6. Take up mindful activity – An effective way to manage stress and food cravings is by taking part in activities that promote mindfulness, like walking or yoga.

Diet mistakes in PCOS related hunger

What seems healthy may actually be sabotaging the good efforts towards a mindful diet. Here are seven common diet mistakes that women taking Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome Treatment in Chennai can avoid:

  • Eating too much fruit at once
  • Staying away from healthy fats
  • Fasting or skipping meals
  • Missing out on protein-rich foods
  • Not eating sufficient vegetables
  • Not drinking anything other than water
  • Eating late at night to prevent early morning hunger
  • Having few big meals in a day
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