Confused about how to build a PCOS-friendly meal?
As a dietitian specializing in PCOS, I get asked ALL the time if I sell PCOS meal plans for weight loss.
The short answer is no. (Although you can try my weekly PCOS meal plan here.)
The longer answer is that I prefer to teach my clients with PCOS HOW to eat in any situation, versus telling them WHAT to eat.
Many of my clients work long hours, travel for work, don’t want to spend their only time off on the weekend doing an elaborate meal prep.
I get it. I prefer to be flexible myself and use what’s in my fridge or what looks good at the market (or what I can order from takeout) to always have the knowledge to build a healthy, balanced meal.
Doesn’t that sound better?
With this 4-step plan, you will have the knowledge to build a PCOS-friendly meal, no matter where you are or how much (or little) time you have!
1. Make 1/4 of your plate protein
If you think of your plate as a circle, protein should make up 1/4 of the plate.
Protein helps you stay full longer and keeps your blood sugar from spiking after a meal — so important for PCOS and combatting insulin resistance!
I tell my clients to aim for 25–30 grams of protein per meal.
(Figure 25 g x 3 meals = 75 g plus 20 or so from snacks = around 100 grams/day, which is a good target.)
This translates to around 3–4 ounces of chicken, meat, or fish.
For you vegetarians, if you’re eating beans as your protein source, they count as a carb too.
2. Make 1/2 your plate non-starchy vegetables
Now you want to load up on those vegetables.
Veggies are packed with nutrients and fiber as well as anti-inflammatory plant compounds (phytochemicals).
Non-starchy vegetables include all the bright, colorful veggies that are low in carbs:
- Leafy greens (all)
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
- Summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash)
- Onions & garlic
If you’re in a rush, dumping half a bagged salad mix on your plate totally counts. Or if you’re doing takeout, boost your veggies by adding raw celery, snow peas, etc, to the side.
3. Make 1/4 your plate starchy vegetables or whole grains
Adding in a quality source of complex carbs will ensure that you stay satisfied (read = avoid those sugar cravings later). They also help boost the fiber of the meal.
Good choices include quinoa, brown rice, beans or bean-based pastas (I love the chickpea and red lentil ones), sweet potatoes, beets, corn, or a slice of whole-grain bread or a handful of whole-grain crackers.
4. Add a source of healthy fat
Repeat after me: Fat does not make you fat.
Even better for women with PCOS: fat does not raise your blood sugar.
Plus, it keeps you full longer. And do I need to even mention that it tastes good?
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your plate (if you haven’t already roasted your veggies in it). Or a handful of nuts or seeds on top of your plate. Or my favorite fat source — avocado (1/4 to 1/2 depending on your appetite & needs).
90% of the time when a client tells me they got hungry shortly after having a smoothie for breakfast or a salad for lunch, the reason is that they forgot to add enough FAT. Fat is truly magical. Don’t forget it!
What are your favorite meal combos?
With these simple tips, you’ll be a pro at putting together a healthy PCOS-friendly meal in no time!
Looking for more ideas? Check out my bookmy book for perfectly balanced PCOS recipes — All recipes are blood-sugar balancing and anti-inflammatory!
And click here to learn more about how to treat PCOS with nutrition & lifestyle.
Or sign up for our free masterclass – PCOS Period Success: 3 Simple Diet Shifts You Can Make NOW to Get Your Period Back now to learn more!
Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD
If you’re looking some help figuring out what YOU should eat to manage your PCOS, get on the waitlist for my upcoming course.
IMPORTANT NOTE -> This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.