Eight years ago I was diagnosed with PCOS. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been eight years. My doctor, a progressive healthcare provider that believed in the power of diet to bring the body back to homeostasis, placed me on a diet that was quite low in carbohydrates. It worked. My PCOS symptoms disappeared and my body looked amazing. I eventually got lazy about it (or happy when Kyle and I started dating, whatever), and gained weight back right along with all of my symptoms.
Two and a half years ago I started my Paleo lifestyle after unsuccessfully eliminating severe joint pain. I had tried every way under the sun. Chiropractor, ultrasound, clean eating, acupuncture, everything. An insightful Dr. told me to eliminate grains because they can have an inflammatory effect in the fluid in your joints, your muscles, and even your fickle veins and arteries.
I had heard of this Paleo thing, and it was expensive, right? I had heard of one family that was spending $2000 a month on groceries. HOLY HELL, what? Kyle didn’t even net $2000 a month back then. OK maybe he did, but barely. We didn’t have that kind of money to spend on groceries.
What other options did I have? I had none. I was completely unwilling to live in constant, excruciating pain anymore. If this was going to be an answer to my prayers, I was going to grasp at every vegetable root I could grab ahold of.
I went shopping a week later, purchased an entire week’s worth of meals for my family, and spent less than I did every other week. $50 less actually.
None of that is important. The important thing is that within a week, my joint pain was gone, I wasn’t having migraines anymore, I had more energy, I wasn’t in pain anymore, my moods were better, and I wasn’t in pain anymore. Wait. Did I say that already? Well, it’s true. To this day, my joints only hurt when I eat something I shouldn’t be eating. For me, it’s grains – namely, corn.
The thing is, there came a point in time where Paleo just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I wasn’t losing any more weight, I didn’t feel my healthiest, I was getting tired again, I was suffering allergies like crazy, and my menstrual cycles were going absolutely nuts. What on earth was going on?
Here it is: Paleo or not, too many carbohydrates = bad. I was eating fruit out the wazoo and making Paleo “treats” all the time. But it’s Paleo! It’s OK!
No, it’s not. It’s not OK and I had to change my thinking again. I really needed to get back to the PCOS Diet that Dr. Fox had me on before Madilyn and Grady were born.
So here are where the three diets converge for me. What you need is a quick run-down to understand what I’m talking about, so here are three quick definitions of each diet, told in my own words.
Paleo: A lifestyle and way of eating that involves no grains, no dairy, no refined sugars. This lifestyle mimics the way our paleolithic ancestors would have eaten – a hunter / gatherer diet. See: Paleo Parents
Primal: A lifestyle and way of eating that involves no grains, full fat dairy, no refined sugars. This lifestyle also mimics the way our paleolithic ancestors would have eaten – a hunter / gatherer diet. See: Mark’s Daily Apple
PCOS Diet (Dr. Fox Diet): A lifestyle and way of eating that involves full fat dairy, whole grains, no refined sugars, no “whites”, high protein, very limited carbohydrates. Allows for occasional use of sugar substitutes. See: Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine
Thanks to my two and a half years of living the Paleo lifestyle (loosely the past 18 months), I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel yucky. I know that I can handle dairy, I know that I hate corn, I know that I don’t want to eat grains anymore and I’m OK with that. I also know from my studies over the past few years that I am unwilling to poison my body with artificial anything ever again.
But I also know that after reading Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter, and thinking back to my Dr. Fox diet days, that I’ve been eating far too many carbohydrates for my brain and body to function at its highest, most efficient state. I realized that my hormones were out of whack again because I was sending my body into a rollercoaster of carb & sugar highs, lows, highs, and lows again. I was exhausted because my body was working overtime to process the sugar and the carbohydrates that I was consuming, “healthy” though they may have been.
So while I was at SoFabCon, I made a pact with my Bunny that we were going to jump on this PCOS diet wagon again. This time it would look different for each of us. She’s now a vegetarian and I’m grain free. I knew I could do it, I’ve been living a pretty clean life for the past two and a half years. The question was, could I eliminate carbs for a month, then bring them back at the amount of only 60 per day? 60 per day from whole-food sources, that is.
The answer is yes, and so can you. I’m attacking the PCOS Diet from a Primal perspective this time. I love cheese and sour cream and they help me push through my sugar cravings. I was fine eating dairy back in 2006 and 7 when I looked like this:
and not like this:
You seriously don’t have to stop and tell me that I look good now, I’m completely aware of that (HA! jokes, jokes). That’s not what this is about. This is about feeling good, about having the healthiest life possible, and about providing my body and brain with the best fuel possible.
According to Dr. Perlmutter & Dr. Fox, that fuel comes in the form of fat, not carbohydrates or glucose.
Chew on it a little bit. Then seriously, visit Dr. Fox’s website for more information on what he calls the PCOD Diet. Don’t let the whole “fertility diet” and “eating for pregnancy” thing scare you off. Dr. Fox and his family eat this way, and he encourages all of his staff to eat this way too.
I’ve been back on the Primal PCOS Diet for three weeks now. I feel great, I have more energy, I just feel better. OH! And my cycle this month was delightful. For someone with endometriosis and PCOS to say that, it’s pretty remarkable.
And if those things don’t convince you, maybe this will: