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5 Blood Sugar Balancing Strategies for PCOS

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: PCOS, Sex Hormones Leave a Comment

One of the major characteristics of PCOS and other conditions that cause hormone imbalance is blood sugar dysregulation. This results in surges of high blood sugar followed by deep dips in energy and mood. Blood sugar dysregulation can result in symptoms like irritability, shakiness, and fatigue, or even lightheadedness and nausea.

Free Meal Plan + Recipes to get your started on a hormone balancing lifestyle. Learn Dr. Brighten’s simple tips for restoring hormonal balance.

The Blood Sugar Dance

Metformin is often recommended for women with PCOS because it reduces your blood sugar. It is important to note that Metformin can lead to a B12 deficiency, so if you’re taking Metformin, you’ll want to monitor your B12 levels and/or supplement with a B complex that includes B12. B12 can be a tricky to absorb, so if you’re struggling to get your levels up then I would consider a sublingual B12 and checking your levels regularly.

While Metformin can be very effective, achieving beautiful blood sugar balance can be done naturally with added benefits!

Just Eat Real Food!

Or maybe better known as JERF. Thank you Sean Croxton for this one. This is the secret to health, longevity, and ruling the world…well, at least your world. Whole organic food will nourish your body and provide you with fiber, protein, healthy fat— all the things you need to stabilize your blood sugar.

I ask my patients to get 7-9 servings of vegetables per day. I know that sounds like a lot, but as many of my patients find, it is not only doable, but enjoyable. Start by adding an extra serving of vegetables daily and work your way up to that 7-9.

And while you’re at it, eat a rainbow! Eating a spectrum of color will ensure you’re getting an array of antioxidants and nutrients. When you're in the grocery store, fill your cart with all the colors — fruits and vegetables.

Bye, Bye Sugar.

Did you just grit your teeth a bit when you read that line? Quitting sugar can be hard. Not like, ‘there’s no way you can do it hard,’ but more like, that is some seriously addictive stuff! But here’s the deal, quitting sugar (and processed carbs) can be done. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing many women take on the challenge and completely own their relationship with sugar.

Don’t forget about sneaky ol’ juice. Seems nutritious, sure. But the reality is that it is a quick bolus of sugar that can spike your blood sugar quicker than your body knows what to do with it.

Eat Regular Meals.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are a must. And yes, you can snack, but make that snack a vegetable with protein. Sorry, no pretzels, chips, candy— you get the idea.

Not a breakfast person? Try a green smoothie, add grass-fed collagen to your tea or grab a hard boiled egg. If you’re a strict coffee only kind of gal, try throwing in some grass-fed butter and medium chain triglyceride oil to give your much-needed fuel.

And this also means keeping a stash of food. No, not like your hoarding food, but more like a “break in case of emergency” stash.  When I travel, I always pack an Epic Bar and recommend my patients do the same. In fact, I always keep some kind of snack in my travel bag just in case. Ladies with PCOS can’t afford to miss a meal (and this is true for all ladies who want rockin’ hormones.) And when in doubt, choose protein!

Bonus Tip: If you’re a mom, keep snacks for your kids too! The key to a happy, functional toddler is well-balanced blood sugar and adequate sleep.

Protein and Healthy Fat At Every Meal.

This is the key to blood sugar balance. It keeps you full longer and helps you maintain optimal levels of blood sugar. When it comes to fat, think about having 1-2 tablespoons with each meal. Trust me, your libido will thank you for the come back when you’re eating healthy fat.

What’s an adequate amount of protein?

  • 6 ounces of fish or chicken (size of your hand)
  • 4 ounces red meat (size of your palm)
  • ¼ cup nuts (size of a golf ball)
What’s a healthy fat?
  • Coconut oil
  • Cold pressed olive oil
  • Avocado oil or whole avocado
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Grass fed butter
  • Grass fed ghee

The focus here is on whole, quality foods that optimize hormone health.

Now, I want you to know that when I say this, I say it with the utmost respect for who you are, but the majority of vegetarian proteins are high in blood sugar spiking carbohydrates. If you have hormonal symptoms and are vegetarian, your diet may not be serving you any longer.

I know that can be a hard one to swallow. It was for me when I found my hormones out of whack and was experiencing symptoms. After a decade of being a vegetarian, it was my identity. But, you are not your diet. And the way you eat should be serving your body and supporting your health.

Dairy-atarian? If you’re relying on dairy for your protein then you’re also getting a lot of lactose (a disaccharide sugar that can be hard for many people to digest).

When it comes to health and especially diet, it is important to ask the question of “what is true for me?” Because maybe being a vegetarian is working for you or maybe it's time for some diet tweaks. Working with a naturopathic physician, functional medicine practitioner, dietician or nutritionist may be helpful for you.

Start to Sweat.

This is making me think of that Beastie Boys song, “Body movin’, body movin”… But seriously. Strength training, cardio, and a combination of the two have been shown to improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which improves hormone balance, stress response, and cognitive function. If you’re just starting out, walking and light stretching is a great jumping off point. Work your way up and be gentle with yourself. The point is to just get movin’!

Do you use any of these tips already? I’d love to hear from you!

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.