Are you starving all the time and aren’t quite sure if it’s linked to your polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis?
Are you still trying to get a handle on how having this condition is affecting you?
Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you the inside scoop on this condition and help you figure out why you feel like a bottomless pit who has the urge to eat all day long.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that can effect your health and appearance. Elevated androgen levels, known as a male hormone, can make it difficult for you to get pregnant, give you wildly unpredictable periods, or stop them altogether.
But it can also increase your chances of developing other health issues, like insulin resistance, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Appearance wise, it can cause unwanted facial hair, acne, weight gain, thinning scalp hair, and more.
It’s estimated that one in twenty people in the U.S. has this condition, so it’s not rare by any stretch of the imagination. It can be hard to diagnose because there isn’t a smoking gun test available. When it is suspected, doctors need to look at blood tests, pelvic ultrasounds, physical examinations, and your list of symptoms to make a diagnosis.
The list of possible symptoms is extensive, but each woman has a unique set of them. Common symptoms include pre-diabetes/diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and total cholesterol, extra weight, acne, unwanted body hair growth, losing hair from your head, polycystic ovaries on ultrasound, infertility, and irregular periods.
For more about symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment, download the free PCOS 101 Guide.
Why PCOS Makes You So Hungry All the Time
PCOS is a hormonal condition. Unfortunately, it effects more than your reproductive hormones. Among others, it touches your metabolism and appetite. While you may feel like you simply have no will power, it turns out PCOS may be responsible for you feeling so hungry all the time. You may be insulin resistant, and your imbalance of appetite-regulating hormones like leptin, cholecystokinin, and ghrelin may be stoking your hunger. You can take steps to get these hormones back under control. As with your other PCOS-related hormones, a good, anti-inflammatory PCOS diet and lifestyle will begin to bring all of these back under control.
PCOS and Eating Disorders
If you have PCOS, you may have a greater chance of developing an eating disorder, like binge eating, anorexia, or bulimia. Your need to overeat may be emotional from coping with the stress of PCOS, or physical because of your excess insulin and other out-of-balance hormones. If you believe that you have an eating disorder it is important to seek professional help.
Signs you might be suffering from a binge eating disorder include:
- Feeling upset about your eating binges
- Hiding your food binges or secretly eating
- Partaking in a binge even if you aren’t hungry
- Eating really quickly
- Eating past your comfort level, not stopping even when you are full
While it can be difficult, you can seize control of your body. Here are some tips to help you handle the cravings and focus on a healthy diet.
That may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re hungry and lacking energy, but if you make yourself go for a walk or bike ride, it will help suppress your appetite. When you do eat, you may find yourself making healthier choices so you don’t undo the calorie burn of your workout. As an added bonus, exercise lowers insulin levels, so you’ll get a benefit there as well.
2) Eat mini meals
If you go too long between eating, you might be setting the stage for binge eating. By letting yourself get too hungry, you might be in a feeding frenzy that could have been prevented by eating more frequently. An well-planned afternoon snack can help.
Journalling can be helpful in uncovering patterns about what sets off your cravings. By writing down what happens leading up to poor eating choices, you may discover what your triggers are and how to avoid them. Write down what is happening and how you are feeling. Then write how you feel after you eat.
4) Get a handle on your emotions
PCOS can bring up all sorts of negative emotions and stress. By dealing with those emotions, rather than suppressing them, you can avoid emotional eating. Make a list of things you can do instead, like exercise, working with your hands, and listening to uplifting music.
5) Find others dealing with PCOS
Support groups, even if they are online, can be tremendously helpful. As well-meaning as your friends and family might be, they may not understand what you’re going through and not know how to help you. But people who are dealing with the same situations you are may give you insight you didn’t have before.
6) Think about your health instead of your weight
You might be skipping meals to lose weight and do well for a few days, only to feel so frustrated after not seeing the numbers on the scale budge. That can lead to binge eating. Instead of worrying about what the scale shows, think about how you feel — if you feel fit and active through regular exercise and healthy choices, you’ll feel less likely to give up.
7) Don’t Stop Trying
Although you are faced with a challenge, that doesn’t mean things are out of your control. You can choose to sink or you can choose to swim. Yes, you have a condition you wish you didn’t have to deal with, but you may be able to turn this into a positive thing.
Now with your diagnosis, you finally know why you’re so hungry all the time and you should no longer have those feelings of guilt for your appetite. You’re not doing anything wrong — your hormones are steering your ship. But with a little effort, you’ll be back in charge in no time.
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two precious daughters and an editor for the parenting website MomLovesBest.com. Jenny is an advocate for a more natural approach to parenting and is mildly obsessed with cloth diapering, and breastfeeding. In her free time, Jenny enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and catching up on the latest health and well-being research.