I had an appointment today to follow up on a breast biopsy I had two years ago. I was diagnosed (shortly after the biopsy) with fibrocystic breast disease. Because of this diagnosis (and family history) I am followed more carefully than the average 29-year-old to watch out for breast cancer.
Anyway, today turned out especially strange because the practitioner believes I may have PCOS. At first I did not see the significance of such a thing, but as she was telling me more about it the light finally came on. Women with PCOS have an extremely difficult time losing weight (and often gain it without any reduction in their activity or increase in their diet). The reason they have such problems with weight loss is because of insulin (naturally produced by the body). In normal people (without diabetes or PCOS or any other disorder/disease) insulin is produced to regulate glucose levels in the blood stream. Patients with PCOS experience higher-than-normal levels of insulin, which does a couple of things:
1. It causes hypoglycemia (and intense cravings for carbs, which increase the glucose)
2. It acts as a storage “usher” for fat (which is why women cannot seem to lose weight successfully even with diet and exercise)
The trick is to even out the insulin levels by monitoring your diet. I received all kinds of information on how to change my diet to prevent quick peaks in my glucose levels (which increase insulin production). All simple carbs (soda, iced tea, candy, etc.) send glucose skyrocketing quickly, and then drop just as quickly. This peak causes insulin to rush out to counteract the sugar, but then leaves “residual” insulin in the blood stream, which then turns to storage. Refined carbs do the same thing (quick glucose peak).
So, the diet information she gave me said to try very hard to steer clear of these kinds of carbs. Of course, it does not say to stay away from *all* carbs. After all, our brains need glucose to function. Instead; however, eating whole grain carbs (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, granola, wild or brown rice, bulgur) prevent this sudden peak in glucose levels. Fruits, legumes, milk, protein-rich foods (meat, chicken, fish, soy, eggs), and carbs with protein/fat (apple and peanut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, cottage cheese and fruit) all prevent this sudden increase in glucose as well. These are the foods this diet focuses on. Apparently, just getting the insulin levels under control will cause the weight to come off much more quickly (and permanently).
To find out more about PCOS or about this diet recommended for it you can visit here. You can find sample meal plans, food exchange lists, information about PCOS and insulin, and more.