30 January 2017

why i've started a low GI diet*

low carb diet pcos

*even though I don't believe in restrictive diets. 

One of the things I've rarely ever spoken about on this blog is that I have PCOS. I imagine most people have heard about PCOS and have a slight understanding of what it is because it's actually pretty common in the UK, with around one in five women having it. But, in case you don't know, polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that affects how your ovaries work. Some women don't even have symptoms, but if you do, they can include: 

  • irregular periods, or no periods
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • excessive hair growth
  • weight gain
  • thinning hair and hair loss
  • oily skin or acne
  • an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes 

I'm pretty lucky because if PCOS had a scale, I'd be on the lower end of it and I don't have many of the symptoms. One of the ones I was blessed with, however, was the complete inability to lose weight. I remember going on a ridiculously stupid fad diet with a friend once, which I stuck with to the letter. Although no fad diet is guaranteed to make you lose weight, the difference between me and my friend was ridiculous. He could barely keep his trousers up. I'd lost nothing. I'm not stupid and I know that one diet won't work for everyone, but I also felt like I was missing something. 

One of the main symptoms of PCOS is insulin resistance - meaning I'm experiencing prolonged blood sugar highs and excess insulin secretion. It means your body develops a resistance to insulin and you can't use the food you take in, eventually craving more and more carbohydrates, then increasing your ability to store fat more easily.

So a few years ago, to counteract that, I tried a low GI diet. It worked for me. As the BDA say: " Low GI diets, eating foods that cause your blood sugar levels to rise  slowly, can be useful to reduce the symptoms of PCOS. This is because eating low GI foods can improve insulin levels" And I lost quite a substantial amount of weight. But I only managed to keep up with it for about a month. I'd restricted myself too much and I couldn't stick with the rules and I didn't like the disordered eating it created. 

But, as I said earlier, everyone with PCOS is different. It used to be thought that you either had it or you didn't, but now most people see it as a varying disorder. Just like someone with PCOS can have clear skin and be infertile, or someone else with PCOS can have acne and have no fertility problems. Everyone's insulin resistance is different. Low GI diets and PCOS might work for me and be completely useless for someone else. 

I'm not a nutritionist, a dietitian, I know nothing really. I just know what works for my body. I can't stand this new clean eating fad which makes you feel bad if you haven't done your weekly shop in Whole Foods, and makes you feel bad for eating a food type that's considered "dirty". It's damaging. I don't want people to follow what I'm doing - my understanding of the way my body works could be completely wrong. Carbs are a necessary part of a diet after all, for a lot of reasons

So why am I putting it on this little corner of the internet? Well, because it helps me stick to my words. Because I want to feel healthier. Because I don't want to be a slave to a carb craving anymore. But if I want to have a massive chocolate cake on my birthday, or a cheat meal with my friends every once in a while, I'll be doing that too. And I know that'll be okay.

Annie x

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