Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Thursday 28th June 2018

This week I was diagnosed with borderline Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal condition which is due to partially formed follicles on the ovaries which cause infertility. This is due to insulin resistant.

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Insulin normally binds to the cell and allows glucose to enter and convert into energy, delivers this energy to the mitochondria and ensure that blood sugar levels are even. Insulin resistance prevents the hormone from functioning properly and causes an imbalance in the endocrine system (1).

Typically, females with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles or no periods, excessive facial or body hair growth, acne, scalp hair loss, reduced fertility, mood changes including anxiety and depression, obesity and sleep apnoea. You don’t have to have all these symptoms to have PCOS (1).

Although I have regular menstrual cycles, my cycle ranges from 28 – 37 days with 5 – 7 day periods and severe mood changes with spells of depression. It explains a lot. I had an initial blood test done to determine if I was ovulating. My FSH levels were low and LH levels were high and I was referred to get a pelvic exam. My second one in three years. My first pelvic exam showed no signs of PCOS (March 2015) and my recent test identified PCOS (June 2018) with an enlarged right ovary.

My pelvic ultrasound showed that my right ovary is 9.22cc and contains approximately fifteen small peripheral follicles seen up to 9mm and my left ovary is 4cc with eight small follicles up to 7mm – I was at the end of my cycle. To have PCOS, one or both ovaries have more than twelve small peripheral follicles arranges in a pearl necklace type of pattern (3). Compared to my results in 2015, my right ovary measured 7.4cc with five small peripheral follicles and my left ovary 3.6cc with ten small peripheral follicles – I had my period during this pelvic exam.

Polycystic Ovaries
(“Dark Skin Patches or Acanthosis Nigricans and PCOS”, 2018)

PCOS is a long-term condition which can be managed. Management strategies include lifestyle modifications, weight reduction and medical treatment and this can help restore normal hormone production and reduce the development of type 2 diabetes (1), which I have a high risk of developing anyways.

Nathan and I have scheduled in an appointment with an infertility specialist at the Redlands Mater Private Hospital. We also have a dietitian appointment next week and will be engaging with a personal trainer to reduce weight quickly as instant weight loss assist with hormonal production.

For now, I can’t get pregnant.


Saturday 30th June 2018

The more I research about PCOS, the better understanding I have of my body. I have reread Jean Hailes’ PCOS page over and over again, and with every new click, every help guide I read, I become more aware of how long I have had borderline PCOS. I am luckier than most but it does not diminish the severity of the syndrome. We still have to make lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and improve my quality of life, especially my ovarian health.

Today I learnt about acanthosis nigricans, a discolouration of the skin, in particular dark patches of skin with a thick, velvety texture. Acanthosis nigricans is a common symptom of insulin resistance (2). For me, it is under my breast.

Human Cell Mitochondrion
(“Dark Skin Patches or Acanthosis Nigricans and PCOS”, 2018)

Sunday 1st July 2018

As PCOS can cause emotional and physical distress due to the hormonal imbalance, it is really important to start tracking my diet and exercise. I have continued my research on a PCOS diet and educating myself to which foods I can and cannot consume in anticipation of my dietitian appointment on Thursday.

img_6245
My food diary (template)

Research suggests following a low GI (glycaemic index) diet is a way to monitor how quickly glucose rises after eating carbohydrates as it cause blood levels to rise slowly and balance insulin levels (4). A high-fiber foods can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the blood (5).

Foods rich in fiber, whole foods, healthy fats, lean meat (grass-fed) and anti-inflammatory foods and spices are best, avoiding refined foods, sugars and saturated fats and dairy – which is going to be the hardest thing for me.

Following the format above, it will allow me to identify which foods benefits my emotional and physical state or diminishes my emotional and physical state.

With this, I need to start getting myself and my body into a good routine. I spend some time setting up my alarms with realistic and achievable times.

  • Wake up: 5:25am
  • Get ready for treadmill: 5:55am
  • Exercise: 6:00am (for 30min)
  • Breakfast: 6:35am
  • Get ready for work after breakfast.
  • Lunch (if can): 12:00pm
  • Dinner: 5:30pm
  • Get ready for Boot camp: 6:30pm (boot camp at 7:30pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday)
  • Get ready for treadmill: 7:55pm 
  • Exercise: 8:00pm (for 30min)

Hopefully this works!


Monday 2nd July 2018

This morning was a bit of a blunder. Instead of waking up at 5:25am, I rolled out of bed at 5:55am, throwing my morning plans out of wack. It’s ok, I will combine my morning exercise with my evening session.

House of Honey Apple Cider Vinegar & Honey (Perth); Tamborine Tea (Wellbeing, Green Tamborine & Vanilla Sencha) and Blackmores Pregnancy & Breast-feeding Gold.

I am also substituting my morning organic breakfast tea with Tamborine’s “wellbeing” green tea, something I normally can’t keep down. So far so good!

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: 1 x piece of toast (white) with a 1/4 avocado and 2 slices of tomato.
  • Lunch: Ham, tomato, lettuce and avocado on wholegrain bread.
  • Dinner: Chicken parmy with eggplant and asparagus leftovers with a side of spinach, tomato and blue camembert cheese.
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea: Tamborine wellbeing tea & organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Treadmill (50min)
  • Total steps achieved: 10,000+ steps

Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Accountability.

I had another late start. Cuddling up to Nathan was more satisfying than waking up to exercise. So today was a good day until I drove through the Maccas drive-thru.

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: Oats with full cream milk.
  • Lunch: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries & passion fruit
  • Lunch two: Small cheeseburger meal (something I never do, so really weird that I had this)
  • Dinner: Skipped meal
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea: 1/2 cup green tea (at work) & organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Treadmill (55min)
  • Total steps achieved: 10,000+ steps

I do feel better having oats in the morning compared to the toast with avocado and tomato. Might have to look for the low-GI bread for breakfast and lunch.


Wednesday 4th July 2018

These alarms are killing me and not getting me out of bed so I need to get a new strategy.  Today I found the bread of my dreams! Bring on smashed avocado with tomato. I am paying attention to my body more and making notes to remember what not to eat.

img_6271

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: Oats with full cream milk.
  • Lunch: Low GI sandwich (5 seeds) with tomato, avocado, spinach and camemberg cheese
  • Dinner: Low GI sandwich (5 seeds) with chicken, camemberg cheese and onion
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea: 1/2 cup green tea & organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Treadmill (30 min)
  • Total steps achieved: 7,000+ steps

Thursday 5th July 2018

Today I visited Samantha Ashe from Feed & Flourish Nutrition at Yarrabilba’s South East Skin clinic. She was really informative and had an understanding of PCOS and the diet associated with the syndrome.

She explained that insulin is a hormone that is released when carbohydrate foods or drinks are consumed and how our pancreas release the insulin. She elaborated that women with PCOS produce more and more insulin to try and compensate and that our ovaries appear to be very sensitive to higher levels of this hormone and stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgen hormones than normal.

Lifestar suggests that the key to controlling insulin levels and therefore symptoms in PCOS is to watch the amount, type and timing of carbohydrate foods to minimize the release of insulin.

  • Amount: 3 serves per day
  • Type: Glycemic index or GI measures the rate at which the carbohydrate in food is absorbed in the blood. Low GI foods are absorbed more slowly and do not cause the blood sugar to rise as rapidly, meaning less insulin is required (soy, linseed, sourdough bread, oats, pasta and legumes).
  • Timing: The right time to eat the carbohydrates

Other important aspects:

  • Type of fat: nuts, seeds and avocado and oils such as olive oil and rice bran oil
  • Total calories: 1,300 per day
  • Nutrient dense: rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Gluten-free diet (absence of wheat)
  • FULL CREAM MILK!

Recommended diet:reduced carbohydrate, high protein, high healthy fats diet

My PCOS Kitchen - My PCOS Diet Cheat Sheet - A grocery list to see what food you should buy! All food are paleo or keto. All are gluten-free and sugar-free. This will help with your diet!
My PCOS Kitchen

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: Oats with full cream milk.
  • Lunch:  Youfoodz – Chicken schnitty with wedges & beans
  • Dinner: German sausage with spinach, tomato, avocado, capsicum & feta
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea:  2 x organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Treadmill (20 min)
  • Total steps achieved: 5,000+ steps

Friday 6th July 2018

Today I received my meal plan. I am excited about the next step in my journey. With these guidelines and the additional booklets Samantha gave me, I can create my own meal plan to suite what I enjoy. Luckily for me, I am not a big can fan nor sandwich spreads person, so I don’t need to eliminate these processed foods. I just need to up my exercise game.

My Meal Plan
My Meal Plan from Feed & Flourish Nutrition (Samantha Ashe)

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: Low-GI toast with avocado, tomato & spinach
  • Lunch:  Youfoodz – Karaage chicken with Asian slaw
  • Dinner: Youfoodz – Beef ‘straya’ pie with chips
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea:  2 x organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Treadmill (30 min) & 20 min Emily Skye Day 1
  • Total steps achieved: 6,000+ steps

Saturday 7th July 2018

BMI & Waist Measurement

GMI
Heart Foundation – BMI Calculator

Great, so my waist circumference is 88cm which coincides with my BMI being 29 = I am overweight. According to this measurement, my optimum weight would be 56.95kg (21.3 BMI) and a waist circumference below 80cm. Great! I need to loose 18.95kg to be in the “healthy” range. Yay for HIIT training!

Where to measure my waist

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: Oats with full cream milk.
  • Lunch:  Strawberry protein shake
  • Dinner: Chicken salad with spinach, tomato, feta & avocado
  • Water: 1.5L
  • Tea:  1 x organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Exercise: Emily Skye Day 2
  • Total steps achieved: 5,000+ steps

Sunday 8th July 2018

Shopping day!

We finally restocked the fridge with fresh produce and we are ready for the week ahead. I have done another YouFoodz order for our favourite snacks and meals (lasagne & spaghetti bolognese). These are for the nights we don’t feel like preparing anything. I think it is realistic to still factor in those days. I was considering doing the meal prep thing, but honestly, I enjoy making our food and it is very satisfying to enjoy the meal you prepared then and there. Mind you, I did enjoy the 6 months of YouFoodz and not preparing anything. I am going to miss eating YouFoodz daily, but, my health is more important.

grocery shopping.JPG
Here is our Grocery and Pantry List. The spreadsheet template is from Savvy Spreadsheets.

Our main priority was to purchase food which would improve the symptoms of PCOS and I follow the example meal plan set out by my dietitian. Generally, we only purchase food that we need and never overstock our pantry. This helps us reduce waste.

With this, I need to get rid of our banking products… lemon cakes anyone?

Since publishing this blog post on FB, I have received wonderful messages from my friends and family and I am very appreciative to those that read the post. I will be taking all of your suggestions to my GP, dietitian and OBGYN the next time I see them. I do believe knowledge is power and I am blessed with the support I have received since publishing this post on our FB page. Thank you all so much xx

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: 1 x organic breakfast tea with milk
  • Lunch:  Multigrain sandwich with ham, lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, carrot and cucumber.
  • Dinner: Berry protein shake
  • Water: 1L
  • Tea:  1 x Tamborine green tea
  • Exercise: NA
  • Total steps achieved: 5,000+ steps

Tuesday 10th July 2018

Brain: “*cough* what happened to Monday?” Body: “we won’t discuss Monday.” 

Today I actually woke up at 5:30am and started walking on the treadmill by 6:00am! I was so pleased with myself that I accomplished this massive achievement that I rewarded myself with a beautiful breakfast… only to realise that my low GI bread was moldy and Nathan’s white bread was on its last legs… I toasted a piece for breakfast and regretted the decision almost immediately.

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: 1 x egg with 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 tomato and 1/4 avocado on white bread
  • Lunch:  Low GI sandwich (soy) with salmon, spinach, tomato and cream cheese.
  • Dinner: King salmon on potato bake with brocollini, baby carrots and Bearnaise sauce
  • Water: 1L
  • Tea:  1 x organic breakfast tea with milk and 1 x medium chai latte
  • Exercise: Treadmill 30min and bush walk 100min
  • Total steps achieved: 17,000+ steps

Wednesday 11th July 2018

Another successful 5:30am start! Winning. I was back on the treadmill at 6:00am, strolling for 20min, just to stretch out the legs from yesterday’s 100min walk. I introduced snacking into my diet and I am not sure whether snacking is a thing for me, but I will try.

I saw my GP and I was prescribed Metfromin (1000mg to be taken at night before bed) and I was given my care plan and referral for my dietitian.

a) the reason why it’s only showed up now is because I was on the pill when I did my last pelvic exam which can mask/reduce the symptoms of PCOS.
b) I can’t do the Keto or intermittent fasting as it would increase my changes of becoming hypoglycaemic.
c) I will start my Meformin 1000mg tonight which primary function is to break down carbohydrates, however, it can help with weight loss.

My Food Diary

  • Breakfast: 1 x egg with 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 tomato and 1/4 avocado, 1 slice of ham on Low GI bread
  • Snack: 170g Greek yoghurt with nuts
  • Lunch:  Low GI wrap with chicken, tomato, avocado, green capsicum and chickpeas *it went all over the place but it was worth it!*
  • Snack: 1 banana protein smoothie (with lady finger banana) & white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie (woops!)
  • Dinner: Eye fillet with mushroom sauce, caesar salad, coleslaw, 1/4 jacket potato with sour cream
  • Water: 1L
  • Tea:  1 x organic breakfast tea with milk, 1/2 cup wellbeing green tea and 1 x medium chai latte
  • Exercise: Treadmill 20min
  • Total steps achieved: 8,000+ steps

 


Support Groups (Facebook)


More information:


Citations

  1. Dark Skin Patches or Acanthosis Nigricans and PCOS. (2018). Retrieved from https://pcos.com/dark-skin-patches-or-acanthosis-nigricans-and-pcos/
  2. PCOS. (2018). Retrieved from https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/pcos
  3. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms & Treatments – WHRIA. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.whria.com.au/for-patients/hormones/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/
  4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome | PCOS Diet – Nutritionist Resource. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html#apcosdiet
  5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Diet Do’s and Dont’s. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pcos-diet#foods-to-add

n and k


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