Women who suffer from PCOS have high levels of insulin. Having too much insulin causes weight gain despite no change in exercise or diet. When our insulin levels increase, it will lead to strong cravings for carbohydrates.

The first instruction to a PCOS sufferer is to lose weight.

They feel immense pressure because they desperately want to lose weight, conceive a child, and improve their symptoms overall. Some believe the only way to do this is by dieting.

Cutting out carbohydrates or eating limited amounts of food to lose weight, along with carbohydrate cravings and low blood sugar, may lead women to binge and feel even worse about themselves. Thus a vicious cycle ensues.

This can set the dieting cycle in process – starting a diet, staying on it for a while (typically 3-4 weeks) with some weight loss; followed by a break in the diet and binge eating…and the cycle repeats.

If you know someone who is:

  • Falling victim to urgent food cravings on a daily basis
  • not being satisfied until they have indulged their sweet tooth
  • turning into episodes of binge eating only to feel ashamed and upset with themselves right after
  • using binge eating as a way to cope, seek comfort, or to distract themselves from intense feelings.

They may be suffering symptoms of an eating disorder known as binge eating disorder or BED.

BED is more than overeating. It is the most common eating disorder, and is characterized by regularly eating far more food than most people would eat in a similar time period.

A sufferer may feel that their eating is out of control during a binge and find binges very upsetting, among other symptoms.

How does PCOS cause BED?

A study published in the Lancet showed one-third of women with PCOS demonstrated binge eating behavior. PCOS is often coexistent with BED, especially due to the fact that women can turn to food to cope with emotional pain.

Is there any way to stop this?

Here are 7 steps you can take to manage PCOS and lessen the incidence of binge eating.

1. Start by getting enough fuel, by ensuring you are eating enough for your body. Insulin levels will go down as you are able to eat more frequently throughout the day and prevent dips in blood sugars. Eating every 3-4 hours, or 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks per day

2. Increase protein in-take, can do this by incorporating protein at every meal and snack consumed.

3.  Incorporate fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables;  which will help decrease the glycemic impact of the meal/snack.

4. Check in with yourself. Are you being mindful with your eating patterns? Are you aware of why you eat and hunger and satiety levels? Some individuals find keeping food journals help. Write down food consumed, feelings, and hunger/fullness levels experienced throughout the meal. 

5. Improve your sleep patterns. If you think you may have sleep apnea, you may want to consider getting checked. 

6. Find help. Connect with a Qualified Weight Management Specialist, to get the right eating plan for you. 

7. Remember, healing your relationship with food is a journey. Be gentle on yourself and take it one day at a time.

There is currently no ‘cure’ for PCOS, but it is possible for a person to reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Adopting a healthful diet and becoming more physically active will help in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you have PCOS and are struggling to control your weight, are trying to conceive, or just want to understand the best way to eat when you have PCOS to live a healthy lifestyle, sign up with a qualified weight management specialist or PCOD specialist.

Many women with PCOS struggle with weight management and infertility. They may be frustrated and confused with conflicting nutrition advice provided on the internet and the lack of available resources. If this sounds like you, a trained nutrition expert can help you sift through nutrition misinformation and provide reliable nutrition advice.