The Right Way to Meal Plan for PCOS

Meal planning
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A healthy eating plan is the primary treatment approach for women suffering from the metabolic and reproductive disorder Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. This condition which affects 10 percent of women in the United States is associated with insulin resistance and long-term chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, endometrial cancer, and cardiovascular disease. An imbalance of sex-hormones affects ovulation and causes infertility.

A healthy eating plan can not only lead to weight loss, lower insulin levels and reduce the risk for these chronic conditions in women who suffer from PCOS, but also restore hormone balance and infertility.

Meal planning is an effective tool to help women with PCOS make sure they are getting in enough of the right nutrients to optimize their health and fertility. Knowing what meals will be eaten ahead of time also can minimize the risk of eating unhealthy impulse foods and regulate glucose and insulin levels. Here are 5 sure-fire steps to successful meal planning.

Forecast for the Week

Over the weekend, take a few minutes to think about your week ahead and what your schedule is going to look like. If you have a roommate or spouse, it will be helpful to know their schedule as well. Determine days when meals will be brought to work versus needing to be eaten out or at home. Think about the ideal days to make more labor-intensive meals.

Map It Out

Using a simple piece of paper (or a nifty weekly planner), write out categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks across the top. On the left, write the days of the week. Next, with your schedule in mind, write in what you’d like to eat for those meals. For example, write in what you plan to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on Monday.

Think about how you can use leftovers for other days. Get others’ input for desired meal and snack ideas too.

For a huge time saver, make double (or triple) the number of servings a recipe calls for. Freeze the extras to eat at another time or use for leftovers for other meals during the week.

Need some inspiration? The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes To Beat PCOS includes a 4-week meal plan and shopping list.

Make a List

After you have your meals and snacks set for the week, it’s time to make your grocery list. Go back through your meal plan and write down the food items needed for those days. It may be helpful to categorize the items based on where things are located in the store. If you visit the produce department first, group those items at the top of the list.

Don’t forget to look through your pantry to see what other items you may need for the week that are running low or need to be resupplied. If you cut coupons, now is the time to go through them to see which you can use before they expire.

Hit the Store

With coupons and grocery list ready, it’s time to hit the store. The best times to grocery shop are mornings and evenings. Avoid lunchtime and weekends when crowds are at their highest.

If possible, leave little ones at home (or you may end up bringing home more than what’s on your list!).

A Little Preparation

When you return home from the store, keep out items that can be prepped ahead of time. Planning to make vegetable soup? Wash and chop those carrots and celery now.

Plan to make salads? A quick and easy way to make salads for the week are to use containers or Mason Jars, and layer them in the following order: greens, veggies, beans, fruit, protein, and nuts. Leave the dressing out until you’re ready to eat. There’s a week of lunches done at once!

With a little time and effort, regular meal planning can be an effective tool to help women with PCOS stick to a healthy diet to optimize their health and fertility.