Healthful Eating Tips for PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS, is the most common hormonal imbalance among women of
reproductive age. Eighty percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance can cause high blood sugar levels, which can raise your appetite, cause you to crave
sweets and lead to weight gain. Out of control insulin resistance can lead to both diabetes and heart
To help decrease your risk for diabetes and manage the effects of insulin resistance, try these healthful
eating tips below:
ξ Eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. Skipping meals can cause you to over eat later and lead to
swings in your blood sugar.
ξ Build healthful meals with at least 3 food groups and healthful snacks with 2 food groups. Check out
the snack ideas below:
o Apple or celery with peanut butter
o Nonfat yogurt with blueberries or whole grain cereal
o Hardboiled egg with whole grain pretzels in snack sized baggie
o Fruit with string cheese
o Nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, 1/4 cup
o Carrots or celery with hummus
o Wasabi peas or soy nuts, ¼ cup
o Nonfat cottage cheese with sliced tomato or fruit
ξ Avoid simple sugars like those found in regular soda pop, fruit juice, candy, ice-cream, cookies, and
ξ Choose foods and drinks with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
ξ Reach for whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, and peas. For example, try brown rice, oatmeal,
quinoa, split peas, or lentil soup.
ξ Opt for foods rich in “good” fats, such as salmon, tuna, ground flaxseed, and nuts.
ξ Practice mindful portion sizes. Imagine your plate with one-quarter to half vegetables, zero to one-
quarter fruit, one-quarter protein and one-quarter whole grain.
ξ Practice mindful eating. Enjoy your food without electronics. Distracted eating can lead to over-
Other healthful habits that can combat insulin resistance are exercise and quality sleep:
ξ Move more often. Fitness improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Start slow and work your way
to 150 minutes of exercise per week.
ξ Catch some zzz’s. Poor sleep is less than nine hours of sleep per night, or sleep that it interrupted
due to untreated sleep apnea or other reasons. Poor sleep can lead to food cravings and changes in
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2017University of Wisconsin Hospitals and
Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department of