If you’ve read my stuff, you know I take a plant-forward approach to treating PCOS, but that doesn’t mean all plant-based diets can help you with PCOS. In fact, there are some major pitfalls to plant-based or plant-forward diets that folks fall into. These habits can sabotage your PCOS and make symptoms worse, so don’t get sucked in! Here are my top 5 Plant-Based Diet Mistakes for PCOS:
- Eating veggies and carbs without protein and thinking it’s healthy
I see clients do this all the time – they put together a plant-based meal with some nice vegetables over brown rice or something and call it a day. That’s not balanced. You still need protein, even in a plant-based meal. Throw some tofu, beans or fish in there and you’re all set.
- Eating lots of highly processed plant-based food
There’s a ton of vegan and vegetarian food out there these days, but it’s not all created equal. Some meat substitutes, pastries, convenience foods and snacks are made with lots of additives, added sugar and other gunk that may promote inflammation. Instead, stick to whole foods versions of plant protein, snacks and dairy substitutes that help reduce inflammation.
- Forgetting the plant part of plant-based
It seems funny, but sometimes folks forget to eat lots of fruits and veggies when they’re trying to go all or partly plant-based. A variety of colorful fruits and veggies is the basis of any healthy plant-based diet – they help fight inflammation, provide fiber for gut health and help balance blood sugar.
- Thinking soy is bad for PCOS
Soy has gotten a bad reputation when it comes to PCOS, but studies show it has promise in treating PCOS and can help lower male hormones like testosterone in women with PCOS. Ironically the estrogen-like chemicals in soy, help rather than hurt those with PCOS. Plus, soy is a complete protein with tons of nutrients needed to manage hormones like iron, potassium, magnesium and more!
- Forgetting the Fat
Once upon a time a lot of folks thought low-fat diets were great for health, but it turns out they were wrong! We need fat to help fight inflammation, support hormones, brain health, heart health and even the health of our cells. Plant fats are particularly beneficial from things like avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Plus they help us feel full and satisfied, so go ahead enjoy your fat.
- BONUS: Going on the bread and cheese (or vegan cheese) diet
Some of the most common vegetarian and vegan foods are some form of bread and cheese – mac n’ cheese, grilled cheese, cheese sandwiches, pasta with cheese, etc. While I’m a huge fan of mac myself, it’s not enough to sustain a person, especially if you don’t add protein. Cheese, either vegan or dairy based, does not provide enough protein. You need to add in plant protein from tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes, meat substitutes, nuts and seeds to get enough protein in your diet, balance blood sugar and support muscle growth.