Thank you Everyone for lovely response and comments on my posts on Weight loss tips, Natural remedies and Best Supplements for PCOS and Hypothyroidism. I have been getting many emails from young girls and women struggling with these hormonal disorders and looking for answers on what to eat when you have PCOS or and Thyroid issues along being a vegetarian. Finally, I am glad to come up with this much awaited and requested post on what to eat when you have PCOS or Hypothyroidism or both.
Through this blog I am trying to deliver snippets of advice on clearing the misconceptions and breaking the myths that most people have about diets whether you have Thyroid/PCOS issues (Overweight or lean PCOS) or not. Few years back when I started taking my hormonal disorders seriously, I did experiment a lot with my diet and meal plan.
I did try a few crash diets where I gave up totally not eating any carbohydrate, tried a diet by including more saturated fats and less carb, tried eating just salads and soups (worst thing). Some diet gave me results, but it was temporary. As soon as I was off the diet, Symptoms came back with gaining the lost weight. This led to low self-esteem, anger, frustration issues and binge eating.
I don’t want to name any diets that I tried as it may have been working for others as per their lifestyle. But all these fancy diets were not working for me. It was becoming very hectic to cook 2-3 different type of meals for each family member each day with hours just cooking in kitchen. I was tired all time with no energy or time to devote for myself or my family.
Looking back at past years- My PCOS and Hypothyroid Story – I was living a life with no energy, always stressed out and with all the symptoms of PCOS and Hypothyroidism. But with change in lifestyle along with healthy eating habits, my health condition improved. I managed to lose some weight and do the things which I was not able to do in my teens. Never felt this energized and young before.
Coming back to the main point, I have seen that losing weight after crash diet is not sustainable at all and will end up gaining the lost pounds back. I knew I needed to work on to cook healthy meals that are consumed by me and by my family without wasting double efforts in cooking. I am glad to say the following diet that I have mentioned below have worked for me.
But believe me it was really hard work to make major lifestyle changes -one of which is Meal Planning and Meal preparation making from scratch with no shortcuts (No ready made substitutes).
Getting on to the Diet
This is a big myth that breakfast is most important meal of the day. I have never been a breakfast person. But seeing all the hyped news and videos of having biggest meal as breakfast, I did experiment by having a big healthy breakfast and ended up with worsen gut issues with acid reflux problem with severe hyper acidity. So, I was back to my original -little or small breakfast. I do have a breakfast for sure but a lighter one.
Breakfast options on PCOS and Thyroid Diet
Overnight oats : The Simplest and easiest option if you want to keep your breakfast quick and easy one. I prepare my overnight oats by mixing oats, chia seeds, raisins, fig, coconut milk/ Almond milk & ripen banana and Keep the oats glass jar in fridge overnight. Sometimes I get creative by adding coco nibs, berries, dry fruits, hemp seeds as per time and availability of ingredients in kitchen pantry.
Smoothie: There are days when I forget to prepare my overnight oats or want to have something more in my breakfast along with oats. Smoothies are a quick and easy to make in morning. There are many different versions and flavors that I make depending on mood and taste bud.
When in crunch of time, Plant Based Protein Powder from trusted brands are good choice for making smoothies. Just add a scoop of protein powder with water and mix it in my NutriBullet. Depending on time availability, I get creative by adding either ripen banana or ripen Avocado, kale or Spinach in my smoothie.
Sometimes, I do a detox clean for my liver & stomach to flush out toxins. I make smoothies from veggies and fruits. Bottle gourd juice with/without apple, tomato & carrot with/without beet, Cilantro-Celery Juice. This Vegetable smoothies are not only good for cleansing the body but also good source of minerals and vitamins.
Fruit: Choose any fruit with low glycemic index like apples, oranges, pears, berries, strawberry, plum etc
For Lunch I stick with my staple diet making few modifications. Being vegetarian, I eat mostly vegetable sabji, legume or lentils with 2-3 multi grain roti (chapati/ flat bread) with side dish of salad (onion, cucumber, cabbage, beet). I cook vegetables in Indian desi style including all spices like asafetida, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and home-made ginger garlic chili paste in less oil. Lot of our traditional Indian spices are used as Natural Remedies to cure PCOS and Thyroid issues.
I avoid using Soya beans and Soy products due to thyroid issue. You can cook how you want to cook your veggies as per your family tradition and heritage. Usually, we find the food that our families eat suits us best. Just watch your oil and sugar intake.
I love to include Legumes and lentils to my diet. Legumes are plant-based food that includes chickpeas, lentils, beans, spilt peas that are full of antioxidant, vitamins and minerals. The type of carbohydrate found in legumes is good in quality, high in protein and low glycemic index. This means they are broken down slowly in body, our blood glucose level does not tend to get high.
Legumes help nourish our body with B Vitamins, iron, folate, magnesium. Legumes low glycemic index keeps us fuller for long. There are studies that shows eating legumes in healthy diet could reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol due to the soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, vegetables and fruits.
We all know benefits of Legumes, but most people avoid Legumes and Lentils as they find it hard to digest and often complains of bloating feeling. Knowing how to prepare legume may help to improve the confidence when it comes to eating of lentils and legumes.
When using dried Legumes/ Lentils, they need to be pre-soak for 8 hours or overnight before using. For Legumes like Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, Black beans, Navy Beans should be soaked in water for 8 hours, then should be pressure cooked and then used for making Sabji or using in Salad.
Other Lunch options
For change in my daily diet or for change in taste bud, I like to eat any of the below mentioned dishes that I love to make with less to no oil and zero sugar.
Besan /Chickpeas Flour Chilla – Easy and simple to make. Chickpeas flour/Besan is full of protein and vegetables add fiber to it making healthy food.
Semolina/Sooji Uttapam/Upma with lots of veggies – Semolina is a flour made from ground durum wheat which is rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins. It is light on tummy and easily digestible.
Quinoa Salad (With Vegetables and Moong)
Whole Pearl Barley Salad
Chickpeas Salad with Veggie
Check this easy recipe to make Healthy Chickpeas Salad.
Idli/Dosa with Sambhar
Will be adding more dishes here… keep checking.
One thing I noted that a side dish of salad with cucumber, beet, radish or onion with few drops of lemon and pink salt helps me feel satiated.
Evening Snacks (optional)
I generally avoid snacking in between but there are times when I get hungry in evening. Snacks should be light and healthy. I look to have anything from the below list.
- Vegetable (Carrot, Celery) sticks with Hummus (Chickpeas Chutney)
- Multi grain tortilla chips with guacamole.
- Puffed Rice (Murmura, Muri, Poha) chivda in portion control (Home made in less to less oil)
- Peanuts (portion Control and if you are not allergic to)
- Nuts – Almond, Hazel Nut
- Fruit (Banana, Apple, Pear, Berries)
- Popcorn (made in less to no oil, with few drops of ACV sprinkled)
For Dinner I like to stick to my staple diet of khichadi, Veggie curry with side dish of salad. During my experiments of various fancy diets, I did try eating the Western diet of Veggie salads and soups for dinner, But I found myself hungry after some time, which led to disturb sleep pattern ultimately resulting in depression and worsening the symptoms.
My staple diet in dinner work the best for me and I make sure to eat in portion control. There is science and study behind sticking to staple diet. It is as simple to think that we were brought up in the way that our body are used of eating the staple food. By doing some healthy modification we can stick and continue to eat our staple diet .
Other Dinner Options
- Dal rice
- Plain khichadi with veggie sabji (Khichadi -Rice mixed with Moong dal/ whole Masoor /Chilka Moong)
- Rice Curry/Veggie Sabji
- Vegetable khichadi
- Besan/Chickpeas Flour Chilla
Note – I eat rice in portion control. You can include rice (Brown, White) cooked in your traditional way of cooking. Lifestyle change in meal plan is all about making healthy choice and eating in proportion (Carbohydrates, Protein, Fiber etc).
Last meal/Dinner should be before 2 hours of going to bed. This will give enough time to body for food digestion. After eating any meal do not immediately drink water or any tea or juice as it dilutes the digestive juices and slow down the digestion process resulting to indigestion or bloating feeling. Bloating Feeling or indigestion is a sign of weak digestive system and other gut issues. Take care of your gut first.
Try to include anti-inflammatory food. Eat fermented food pickles like sauerkraut and other traditional Indian pickles made without oil and preservatives. Try to include Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with Mother) in your routine. Do read more about how to consume Apple Cider Vinegar and other useful tips to follow in my previous post on Weight Loss tips for PCOS and Hypothyroidism.
Pre & Post Work out Meal
I avoid eating anything before 1 hour of my workout/exercise timings but in case if I need to eat, I grab an apple or a banana. For post workout I usually have my breakfast after I work out in morning or Dinner after my workout in evening. I make sure to drink good amount of water during whole day.
Cheat Day Meal
Cheat Day Breakfast – Once in a week is my cheat day usually weekends. I love to have organic whole milk tea (in portion control) with organic sugar with multi grain bread toast with butter.
Lunch/Dinner – I usually stick to my staple and healthy meals. For bud taste, once in a 3 -4 months I like to eat chickpeas/Besan flour bhajiya(fritters) made with vegetables or Moong dal bhajiya/fritters in less to less oil but again in portion control with side dish of salad.
Cheat Day is good to have to shake your metabolism. But that does not mean you eat all the junk and crap food for whole day. Try to eat homemade food so that you are aware of how much oil or sugar you use in making it. Keep watch on what you eat.
Note: I do not drink tea daily. Coffee is strict no for me as Coffee spoils my tummy and create gut issues. It is indigestible for me.
Food/Things to Avoid
- No to all Restaurant food (Made with lot of oil, unhealthy fats, White flour/Maida)
- Limit or Avoid Milk or Milk products intake. Milk increases production of male hormones in female body which leads to issue of irregular periods.
- Avoid Food items made of White flour/Maida (All fancy biscuits)
- Reduce or Avoid Food items rich only in Carbohydrates – Sago (Sabu dana), Pizza etc.
- White Bread, white flour Pasta, Bagels
- Sugary drinks such as soda, coke or juice
- Sugary foods such as cookies, candy, cakes, chocolates, Ice-creams
- All junk snacks such as potato chips, wafers etc.
- Do not eat or munch on snacks between meals during a day, as snacking/munching leads to raise in blood glucose level. Light healthy Snacks between lunch and dinner time is ok.
- Try to Eliminate dairy, gluten, soy, processed sugar.
Include or choose
- Green Vegetables -Good to include Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach, Bitter gourd, Okra, Drumsticks, Carrots, beet root, Sweet potatoes, Celery, Kale, Cilantro. Try to include vegetables that are available in your local market.
- Fresh fruits such as Apples, Oranges, Pears, Berries, Straw berries, Watermelon, Banana, Mango (Banana, Mango in moderate amount)
- Try some Natural Remedies along with your prescribed medications ( Metformin or Myo-Inositol).
- Take your Supplements. Supplements offer a lot of benefits to women having PCOS & Hypothyroidism. Do Read on Best Supplements for PCOS and Thyroid.
- Include healthy fats such as Coconut oil, Ghee (in moderate amount)
- Whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, Pasta made from pulses, Oats, Multi grain bread.
- Multi Grain Atta for making daily flat bread (Roti, Chapati).
- Include Ragi (Kuttu, Rajgira), Millet, Sorghum/Jowar, Quinoa– All are gluten free and healthy.
- Healthy seeds such as Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, chia seeds are good source of omega 3 and other essential nutrients.
- Include various nuts such as Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts, Hazel nut.
- Popcorn with few drops of acv.
- Keep your body hydrated by sipping water and not just drinking water.
- Coconut water, buttermilk, unsweetened yoghurt or curd.
- If you are trying to introduce beans/legumes to your meal, I would suggest taking it slowly and with less quantity.
Hope these tips on what to eat on a PCOS and Thyroid diet are useful to you. All these tips are my own and have worked for me in improving my symptoms with these disorders. I have worked on these doing my research & studies and experiments to heal with PCOS and Thyroid.
Following all these I managed to lose weight and regain my strength to explore my travel and hiking adventures. I have been on this diet from good time and my blood glucose test, thyroid test and other test results are all in control. I have not yet reached my goal weight, but am happy with my progress and the inner strength.
I recently submitted Mount St Helens summit hiking 10 miles on difficult trail with my husband and my kid (10-year-old). I am proud that my healthy meal plan is working the best for me and my family. This meal plan is easy and can be followed by any person with or without these hormonal disorders. Do let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
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