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10 Foods to Avoid With PCOS

10 Foods to Avoid With PCOS
Linda Guerrera

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical disorder affecting women during their childbearing years. While treatment depends on several factors, the one thing you can do right now is to look at your diet. To the rescue: our list of the 10 foods to avoid with PCOS. 

Before we get to the list, let’s take a look at the causes and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. While the cause of this disorder is unknown, it is a hormonal issue due to excessive insulin or androgen production. Family history also plays a part. You are at a greater risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome if your great-grandmother, aunt, mother, or sister has been diagnosed with PCOS. 

Symptoms of PCOS 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, symptoms of PCOS include the following: 

  • Ovaries that are large or have many cysts 
  • Infertility 
  • Missed, irregular periods, or very light periods 
  • Excessive body hair growth around the chest, back, and stomach (hirsutism) 
  • Acne or oily skin 
  • Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)  
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair 
  • Dark or thick skin patches around or on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts
  • Tiny pieces of excessive skin on the neck or armpits called skin tags 

10 Foods To Avoid With PCOS

Several things decide the treatment plan for polycystic ovary syndrome. The good news is eliminating foods to avoid with PCOS can significantly reduce unwanted symptoms. But before you make any drastic changes be sure to talk to your doctor. Eliminating or adding foods can greatly impact your health and well-being. Here is a list of the worst foods for PCOS: 

PCOS Diet-Foods to Eat and Avoid

1. Processed Foods

Fast food, sugar-laden desserts, doughnuts, soda...we've heard this 1,000 times, highly processed foods are not good for anyone, and they are at the top of the list of foods to avoid with PCOS. Many times, manufacturers add sugar when they reduce fat from food products. So, yes, you are getting a low-fat item, but to make up for the taste, they add sugar, which is not good, my friend! Refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats in processed foods increase your risk of insulin resistance and aid in unhealthy weight gain

2. Sugar

We already mentioned this sweet temptress in processed foods, but it really needs its own category. Sugar is bad and one of the worst foods for PCOS! Stay away from the candy aisle in the supermarket. Find recipes that sweeten foods naturally with fruit, for example. Excess sugar can worsen PCOS symptoms and increase your risk of insulin resistance. 

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Food items such as white rice, white bread, and pasta, are made with refined grains and can cause rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Choose food made with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, and oats.

4. High Glycemic Index Foods

The easiest way to remember this is to think of white foods. White potatoes, sugar, white rice, and sweet breakfast cereals are all foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can spike blood sugar levels and are among the worst foods for PCOS. Replace these with low-GI foods like fruit, veggies, and whole grains. 

5. Lactose

You may be wondering, “Is dairy bad for PCOS?” Being sensitive to dairy products is common among Polycystic Ovary Syndrome sufferers. Try lactose-free dairy products, almond milk, or coconut milk as an alternative to milk.  

6. Red Meat

Too much red meat is not good for anyone, especially those with PCOS. Because red meat increases inflammation and can also cause insulin resistance, it is one of the foods to avoid with PCOS. Lean protein sources are the way to go! Replace steak and hamburgers with chicken and fish.  

7. Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils

Processed and fried foods have trans fats and hydrogenated oils and are a big no-no concerning PCOS. Read your food labels! That's what they're there for. Know exactly what you're putting into your body. 

8. Caffeine

Many people love their morning cup of coffee or tea. It's a quick pick-me-up and has health benefits. But too much caffeine can cause hormonal imbalance and worsen PCOS symptoms. Energy drinks also contain caffeine, so avoid or limit your intake of these caffeinated beverages. 

9. Alcohol

Cheers! You guessed it! Too much alcohol is not good for PCOS sufferers. Not only does alcohol affect your liver and insulin levels, but it can also negatively affect your hormone balance. You can greatly reduce symptoms of PCOS by avoiding or limiting your alcohol consumption. 

10. Soy

All the rage when we first heard about it, soy is not considered to be bad. However, eating too much of it can throw your hormone levels off. Everybody is different, so if you use soy in your diet, be mindful of any effects it may have on your body.  

As you read this list, are you noticing something? The foods to avoid with PCOS are not a good idea for anyone. There really is a lot to the old saying, “You are what you eat!” Common sense and good food choices will help develop your own PCOS diet. 

Everyone is different. Talk to your doctor for more advice. Even better, consult a dietician to help you develop a PCOS 30-day meal plan that you can follow. It's also a great idea to keep a food diary and jot down any foods that may make your body react. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Linda Guerrera

Linda Guerrera

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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...

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