I have never been a person obsessed with my diet or my weight. Having always been overweight by varying amounts since childhood, I pretty much stuck my fingers in my ears whenever a conversation included “obesity” or “weight-related health problems”.
I had friends who would obsess about how many carbohydrates were in every single mouthful of their food and others who wouldn’t dine out if they didn’t know the exact amount of calories in every meal on offer.
If anything I felt lucky I didn’t feel deprived or restricted – I more or less ate what I wanted.
My outlook changed however, when I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
For those unfamiliar with the condition, I will explain.
What is PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
I was diagnosed with PCOS at the tender age of 16 and did not have a clue what the condition was about, what caused it or how it would affect my life.
A hormonal disorder, the name derives from the appearance of the sufferer’s ovaries – which are usually enlarged and covered in small cysts.
Symptoms will vary between sufferers, but most common is absent or infrequent menstruation, excess body hair and unexplained weight gain.
Most women are diagnosed in their late teens to early twenties and the quicker the diagnosis, the lower the risk the condition will cause conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
One of the things that stuck in my head when I was told the diagnosis, despite my young age, was the fact the doctor said I may have trouble conceiving.
This worried me immensely and as I have gone on to have four children, I feel the need to stress that PCOS does not cause infertility.
The symptoms, such as weight gain or lack of periods, make it more difficult, but not impossible, for a woman to conceive.
Side Effects of PCOS
Of course, as when you receive any diagnosis you start to look for ways to reduce the symptoms.
I had put on a lot of weight in the previous two years and I was only having a period every other month.
Probably the most difficult side effect to live with was the excess hair, which doesn’t occur in all sufferers.
Unfortunately, I did and found myself thinking of ways to remove the hair I was developing on my chin and upper lip.
I was relatively lucky though, as it isn’t unusual for some women to suffer from hair on their chest, stomach and nipples.
I was keen to manage my symptoms and, hopefully, reduce my chances of developing another, more serious condition.
How Does the Low Glycemic Diet Come into the Equation?
I was shocked to discover that as a sufferer of PCOS my insulin levels would be higher than other women of my age.
My doctor told me that a low glycemic diet could help me manage my insulin level, as well as my weight and that this would have a positive influence on my PCOS symptoms.
I had never even heard of the glycemic index but the thought of having to stick to a strict diet did not sit well with me, so I decided to try and learn as much as I could about the subject.
Dieting and My Health
The glycemic index is a comprehensive listing of foods containing carbohydrates, with each one featuring a rating somewhere between 0 and 100.
Food on the list that is rated 55 or lower is classed as low-glycemic, and it is these foods that are most likely to have no effect on my blood sugar.
Therefore, I would need to avoid foods such as potatoes, white bread, corn chips, white rice and cakes – pretty much every thing my diet consisted of.
Instead I would need to eat more fruit, vegetables, grains and lean poultry.
It is funny how your attitude changes when you realise what you are putting in your mouth, has a direct effect on your health.
I had always been happy being the size I was and my husband had never mentioned that he thought I should lose weight so I had carried on living in my own little bubble.
My outlook changed as soon as I realised that I was in charge of what I ate and, therefore, I was ultimately in charge of how my PCOS diagnosis would affect my life.
The Future …
I have therefore made healthy eating, in particular following a low glycemic diet, my new objective.
I want to be healthier, lighter, and manage my insulin levels naturally.
I hope to share my findings on my website and hopefully reach out to, not only other PCOS sufferers, but other individuals who want to follow a low-glycemic diet and hopefully improve their health.
I plan to share the results of my research in laymen terms, so the average person out there can understand exactly what the glycemic index is, what foods are considered off limits and, perhaps most importantly, what we can eat to improve our lifestyles.