By Josephine Cabrall, FGHG Naturopath
So you may have read my last post “The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do To Heal PCOS” about the powerful effects of quitting sugar on PCOS. But some of us may not get the results we want from quitting sugar alone and this is where we need to turn our attention to the rest of our diet. What else could be halting our progress? Well, believe it or not there are other foods that act just like sugar in the body. They are called refined carbohydrates.
Like sugar, refined carbohydrates are absorbed immediately into our blood stream, causing a blood sugar spike, which leads to large amounts of insulin to be released by our pancreas. Sugars and refined carbs are also known as high glycaemic index (high GI) foods because of the affect they have on our blood sugar. If high GI foods are eaten repeatedly, it can cause to or worsen insulin resistance.
Refined carbohydrates are starchy foods that have been processed and had the fibre removed. Think white rice, white bread, white pasta, quick oats and commercial breakfast cereals. These are foods that make up a large portion of our Western diet for most of us so it’s important not replace them with something else rather than simply eliminate them (I don’t want you to starve!). Here’s some easy swaps that will enable you to still enjoy the foods you love whilst minimising insulin resistance.
Five easy swaps to get you started:
Swap white rice for brown basmati rice, quinoa or a mixture of the two
Tip: regular brown rice can have a huge starch content so even though it is whole grain, it might not be much better than white rice. Brown basmati rice on the other hand, has a much lower GI and is the best choice for rice. Plus it’s quite tender and delicious without being gluggy
Swap white bread for a dense whole grain bread.
Tip: I don’t mean wholemeal bread or multigrain bread but wholegrain bread. Wholegrain bread is like a combination of the two. It contains a dense wholemeal base as well as lots of whole grains and seeds. It’s much more filling and better for blood sugar regulation than your standard wholemeal or multigrain loaf, which are usually made up of a large percentage of white flour. You can find wholegrain bread at your local supermarket or bakery but the best if you can get it is an authentic sourdough wholegrain loaf. Talk to your local baker or look online
Swap white pasta for zucchini noodles, wholemeal pasta or legume pasta.
Tips: zucchini noodles are simply strips of zucchini cut with a julienne peeler to look like spaghetti. They soften nicely under a hot sauce or in a pan with olive oil. Wholemeal pasta is lower GI than white pasta but can still pack a punch on our blood sugar. Eat it with some protein and half a plate of veggies for pest results.
Not all legume pastas are the same – look for a high protein one like Eco Organics.
Swap quick oats for rolled oats and chia seed porridge
Tips: quick oats are lower in fibre than rolled oats but rolled oats still contain a lot of starch so add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your oats when you cook them (thereby using less oats) and you’ll get more fibre and protein and a nice low-GI porridge that keeps you full for longer. Top your porridge with some fruit for taste.
Swap regular breakfast cereals with lower-carb homemade granola.
Tip: Check out my easy-to-make recipe that tastes delicious: Homemade Granola
What about starchy veg?
Starchy veggies such as potato and sweet potato can have quite a high glycemic index BUT their starch content is greatly reduce if they are cooked and cooled (even if you reheat them again) so potato salads are a great way to go.
Otherwise eat them in smaller amounts or opt for beetroot, parsnip, pumkin or carrot instead.
So you might not be able to make all of these changes overnight but get started on one at a time as soon as you can. Don’t underestimate the huge affect that making these changes can have, not only on your PCOS symptoms but on your overall health as well.
Josephine Cabrall, FGHG Naturopath has a special interest in PCOS and helping women discover some of the simple ways they can make a huge difference in their health and hormonal symptoms.