By Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Summer is here! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
While summer is the perfect time to gather outdoors and enjoy friends and family, it is often laden with PCOS diet booby traps. Watch out for sugary summer cocktails, gluten-filled pasta salads, and the temptation to spend the entire day lying on your beach towel.
Here are some of my favorite PCOS tips to make the most of summer and leave you feeling terrific in the fall!
- Make a Plan– Plan ahead for travel snacks, meals on the go, potlucks, picnics, and day trips. If you plan, you are less likely to find yourself at a drive-thru or on the beach with nothing but a hot dog and a bag of chips. Keep a little cooler in your car full of cut veggies, fruit, trail mix, and protein bars.
- Be a Potluck PCOS Diva– When invited to a gathering, bring a beautiful salad packed with flavorful ingredients and protein. Assume that protein will be served, but just in case there is no PCOS diet friendly option, you will have a good alternative. I like to bring my Summer Cook-out Salad. It looks beautiful and is a really delicious way to stay on track.
- Take an Ice Cream Detour– Women with PCOS should avoid dairy. When the local ice cream stand calls, be sure to have an ice cream alternative ready at home. My family loves to make coconut milk ice cream sundaes (topped with juicy fresh fruit) or enjoy a gluten-free cone. You can find great brands at the grocery store, or even better, make your own. My family’s favorites homemade flavors are: Vanilla Cherry Chip, Maple Vanilla, and Black Raspberry.
- Cocktail Hour Buzz Kill– While women with PCOS need to be very cautious about consuming alcohol, it is okay to enjoy the occasional PCOS Diva-friendly cocktail, but beware! Summer cocktails are often packed with sugar. Margaritas, mojitos, and daiquiris contain more sugar than you need in a day or more. Consider a cocktail alternative like a wine spritzer. I like to mix red wine with a little seltzer and frozen berries. Try making a signature cocktail of your own using gluten and sugar free ingredients. I also suggest ginger kombucha with a squeeze of lime juice as a mocktail. I also found a great rose kombucha that makes me feel like I’m drinking a glass of sparkling wine. You can also muddle berries (I alternate between strawberries, blueberries or raspberries with some fresh mint leaves) and add the Kombucha. It feels and tastes festive and fun when I would like to celebrate a bit without alcohol. *Note: fermented foods like kombucha can be excellent for gut health, but causes inflammation in some people. Start with a small amount.
- Prioritize Indulgence– Denial is not part of the PCOS Diva diet. If you absolutely must have a piece of mom’s cherry pie, have a little. Be sure that you keep the serving small – enough to satisfy your craving, but not enough to make you feel lousy for days. Sometimes denying yourself special foods can make you feel worse. It helps to remember that this is not the last opportunity you will ever have to eat that food. There will be other opportunities to eat that pie, you don’t have to have it today or never. When you do indulge, choose one special thing, be mindful, and really savor it.
- Move It! When the meal is over, don’t sit around. Grab the family and go for a walk, play horse shoes, fly kites, build a sand castle. When you get everyone moving, you will feel better and make some memories!
- Crowd out the Crummy- Fill your plate with vegetables and lean protein first. Crowd out the pasta and potato salads with leafy greens and crunchy veggies. If you fill up on these healthy and fiber rich foods, you will have less room for all the foods that will leave you feeling lousy later.
- Hydrate! Water is your best friend all year long, but especially in the summer. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, particularly if you are exercising or in the direct sun. Staying hydrated will prevent you from getting awful headaches or pouncing on the first beverage you find. I like to add frozen berries and mint to my water bottle in the summertime. Tip: Mix a large jug of fruit infused water every night before you go to bed and put in the fridge. You’ll have a refreshing drink ready the next day.
- Cut Out the Caffeinated and Carbonated Drinks- These drinks contain preservatives, colors, and sugars which do your body no good. They are also diuretics and cause loss of fluids through urine. Diet sodas are no exception, especially for women with PCOS.
- Choose Safe Sunscreen- Be sure to protect yourself from endocrine disruptors in your sunscreen. Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s list of best sunscreens. I like to use Badger Balm.
- Use Safe Insect Repellent– Again, we need to watch out for endocrine disruptors and toxins in the products we use, and repellents are a huge offender. Look for natural repellents. I often use YaYa brand.
- Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market Every Week. When you purchase from your local market, you know you are getting the freshest, most nutrient-packed locally grown food and you can ask your farmer about how they grow it. As a bonus, it is usually less expensive than the grocery store.You could also join a Community Supported Agriculture group and get the first of the harvest! It is easier to avoid unhealthy choices when you have a fridge full of beautiful produce.
- Commit to Eating One Meal Sized Salad a Day – Eating lots of leafy greens and veggies is a great way to enjoy lots of produce from your local farmers market, get the nutrients and fiber you need, and crowd out the junk. Be sure to add clean protein and healthy fats like avocado slices, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. When it is hot and humid lettuces, veggies, and fruits with a high water content will cool you down.
- Nothing Tastes as Good as Feeling Good Feels– I never encourage women to deny themselves a food they are desperately craving, but remember, many foods that you crave will leave you feeling lousy later. The macaroni salad you indulge in today will likely leave you feeling logy and sick later in the day and for days to come. Choose to feel good!
So kick back and enjoy the sunny days ahead. Be sure to take care of yourself, and when the chilly days of fall roll around, you’ll still be feeling terrific.
As a certified health coach and best-selling author of Healing PCOS, Amy Medling often hears from women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill and live with their symptoms. In response, she founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health and happiness.