You can turbocharge your treatment by giving sugar the heave-ho, completely, for two weeks. This will give your body a fresh start and break the cycle of sugar cravings so that you don’t actually want that sugar fix. It will also cause your metabolism to shift gears to favour weight loss.
Step 1. Remove sugar, dairy, grains and legumes
During the two-week detox strictly exclude all refined sugars (including honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut nectar/sugar, rice syrup and other syrups), dried fruit, alcohol, all grains, dairy products, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), corn, banana, watermelon, and white potato.
Limit fruit to two pieces per day and stick mostly to berries, citrus, apples and kiwi fruit. During this time you will most likely get sugar cravings. The next step helps with that.
Step 2. Stabilise your blood sugar levels
What we are after is the slow and steady release of sugar into our bloodstream across the entire day. This will ensure that insulin levels don’t skyrocket, which helps reduce insulin resistance and break the PCOS cycle. Stabilise your blood sugar by following these guidelines:
- Eat lean protein and quality fats with every meal
- Eat snacks between meal – try to eat every 2-3 hours.
- Eat 2-3 serves of dark green veggies per day
- Don’t stop at greens – eat 3-5 more servings of other vegetables and 1-2 serves of fruit, with one serve being about ½ a cup
- Add fresh or dried spices and herbs to cooking to make fruit and veggies taste good and to reduce insulin resistance
- Plan ahead so that you always have plenty to eat
Step 3. When the two weeks are up reintroduce limited carbohydrates.
Once you have completed your two-week sugar detox continue to limit sugar, refined grains and alcohol while slowly reintroducing carbohydrates that have a low-glycaemic load. Stick to these guidelines for best results:
- Limit bread to two slices per day (maximum) and choose dense, whole grain bread. Steer clear of wheat unless it is long-fermented sourdough bread, because wheat causes inflammation in the gut. Look for a bakery in your local area that uses a 24-hour fermentation process for their sourdough loaves.
- Exclude all refined grains (especially wheat and corn products) but begin to introduce selected wholegrains back into your diet. Choose from brown basmati rice, whole oats, pearly barley, farro, quinoa and buckwheat. These elicit a gentler rise to your blood sugar than refined grains and are less inflammatory.They should be gently boiled in water until cooked, not eaten in the puffed form (this is a form of refining). Occasional white rice is ok but choose basmati rice and lower the carbohydrate content by roasting it prior to cooking; stir it around in a dry pan for a few minutes (until it begins to smell nutty) before cooking as usual.
- Have no more than 1-2 standard drinks in an evening and no more than four standard drinks per week. Stick to quality red wine as this contains beneficial antioxidants.
- Include legumes in moderation if your gut tolerates them. Legumes contain carbohydrates, but they also contain protein and are rich in fibre (great for insulin resistance).Legumes are difficult to digest for some people, so they should be soaked overnight with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of beans, cooked well and chewed well for best results. If they give you indigestion or make you excessively gassy, limit them (this may actually be a sign that your gut needs some healing – see a naturopath for further help).
- Introduce certain forms of dairy, if desired. After about a month of dairy free eating, you might like to try the less inflammatory types of dairy in your diet. The rule of thumb is that they should be used more like a condiment than a food. For example, sprinkle goat’s cheese on salads or have a dollop of quality, plain yoghurt on a meal. Organic is always best.
- 100% Jersey cow milk
- Heavy cream
- Sheep or goats yoghurt
- Any cheese made from goat, buffalo or sheep milk
- Also use dairy replacements such as organic coconut or almond milk. Fresh pressed is best. Always check the label and make sure they don’t contain sugar or vegetable oil.
Maintain your great results by following the Eating yourself well guidelines.
Want the occasional treat? See our something sweet section. As time goes on, you will begin to know what level of sugar, dairy and grain consumption works for you. If your symptoms get worse, you will need to cut down on these. Some of us will need to exclude them all together for quite some time, but all is not lost.
As you start to look at food differently, let yourself be inspired by delicious, whole-food recipes that offer alternatives to refined carbohydrate, dairy and sugar-laden eating. Get started by checking out the PCOS food part of the support section.