Living with PCOS and a low GI diet
This is exactly the post I have been avoiding forever since I started my food blog. It is also the kind of post one might expect at the beginning of the year not smack right in the middle of it. Nevertheless since I am at an important point in my life where I am owning up to my health concerns, I thought it might be a good idea to share it here, and maybe in the process create a useful stash of ideas to dip into for those dealing with issues similar to mine.
I was officially diagnosed with PCOS sometime in 2005, though I had been exhibiting tendencies normally associated with this disorder since 1998, mainly irregular menstrual cycle, acne, and weight gain (rather a difficulty in losing weight). For those who don’t know what PCOS is, let me explain, it is the acronym for a disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also sometimes called PCOD - Polycystic Ovarian Disease. It is an endocrine disorder that affects women in their reproductive age. No one knows why it happens, but it causes our hormones to go haywire, and most of the times gets diagnosed when a woman decides to have a baby. Having babies for those dealing with PCOD is often a daunting task, it involves frequent trips to a gynaecologist, understanding your cycles, and realizing that while all other women release healthy eggs that are potential babies, you need help as you have anovulatory cycles, meaning you do not ovulate during some cycles. There is also the presence of cysts in your ovaries, though this is not necessarily indicative of PCOD or vice versa. PCOD causes irregular menstrual cycle, crazy mood swings, inability to control one’s weight, adult acne… living with it is like being a teenager all your life. So not a good idea! If you want to read up about PCOD, just google it, there are thousands of websites and forums talking about a disorder that is increasingly becoming common in the recent years.
So in 2005 I was diagnosed with PCOD as we wanted to have a baby. I was immediately put on Glucophage/Metformin. This is a diabetic drug which is now being used to treat PCOD. Metformin affects the way insulin is controlled in our blood sugar. If taken over a period of time, Metformin also helps in ovulation. I also did two cycles of Clomid. Clomid, or Clomiphene Citrate, is a medication that blocks the receptor for the female hormone estrogen. This causes the pituitary gland to secrete more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which in turn stimulates the ovary to make an egg. So helps women who do not ovulate regularly to produce an egg every month. Round 2 of Clomid I conceived my daughter.
It has been six years since I was first diagnosed, yet not much has changed in my life. I still deal with irregular periods, we haven’t yet been able to conceive a sibling for my daughter, I deal with terrible mood swings and bouts of depression, I get acne, my weight has ballooned and I have systemically gained over 40 kilos since 1998 when I first started showing signs of PCOD. And each time I go to the doctor to get my cycle on track, I get a stash of Glucophage most of which I never end up taking.
So what’s the good part? The good part really is that PCOD can be managed and to a great extent you can reverse it by not letting your hormones get the better of you, by changing your lifestyle, and by following a specialised diet. I would say a good place to start would be,
Earlier this month I found a new gynaecologist, in a clinic close to where I live. As usual I had problems with my cycle, after the usual talks and check up, she stared hard at me, or right through me I should say, and told me categorically, “I don’t know how you do it, but when you meet me in three months, you should have lost considerable amount of weight.” She then thrust a leaflet on low GI diet into my hands.
I am not a nutritionist, but I spent several days reading up about the Glycemic Index (GI) and trying to understand what this is all about, and more importantly how it works. But for dummies like me a video like the one below helps!!!
In the coming days I am going to post about how I am changing my diet so that the pre-historic in me stays right under the rocks.