Episode #78: Healing Your Relationship with Food and PCOS

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Healing Your Relationship with Food and PCOS

What you’ll learn in this episode

Ready for a deep dive into the world of cultivating a healthier relationship with food, while navigating the challenges of PCOS? In this episode we’ll explore how to create a positive no bad foods approach to what you eat while still eating to nourish your hormones. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the dos and don’ts of PCOS nutrition, this episode is for you. So, grab your earbuds and hit play!

A Positive Relationship with PCOS Nutrition

From genetics to lifestyle every woman has a unique PCOS journey, every factor plays a role in your health goals. It’s time to let go of the rigid rules and embrace the idea that there are no inherently “bad” foods. Instead, we’ll focus on understanding what your body needs and how to nourish it for your well-being.

Throughout the episode, we’ll uncover the impact of restrictive mindsets and how they can create a negative cycle around food. No more feeling like you’re constantly doing it right or wrong. We’ll explore the concept of moving from “good or bad” foods to choices that align with your desired outcomes, breaking free from the limitations that may be hindering your progress.

Revitalize Your Relationship with Food

I will also provide you with helpful strategies to handle emotional eating, and the power of real food over processed alternatives. I invite you to hit play now to hear some inspiring stories of real women who transform their approach to ok and bad foods in order to break free from the cycle of feeling stuck to making significant progress in their PCOS journey.

By the end of this episode, you’ll not only gain insights into creating a sustainable and enjoyable eating pattern but also discover how a simple mindset shift can be a game-changer in your PCOS wellness journey. So, get ready to revitalize your relationship with food and step into a more empowered and capable version of yourself. Grab your earbuds and get ready to start enjoying food again!

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.


So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com


Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.


So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com


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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

There seems to be so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to what you eat for better health, and particularly when we’re dealing with PCOS. Everyone you listen to that thinks they know the answers to PCOS is going to say something like, you shouldn’t eat dairy or you shouldn’t eat inflammatory foods or you need to eat whole foods or clean foods or anti-inflammatory foods. The lists of don’ts and shoulds is very long, very complicated and by the end of it, you feel like there’s nothing left to eat at all, and definitely not anything left that you like to eat. This creates a vicious cycle of feeling like you’re doing it right, you’re doing it wrong, and food becomes a negative aspect of our lives.

In today’s episode, we’re going to dive into creating a better relationship with food and how to eat normal again, even though you have PCOS but at the same time, nourishing your hormones, creating better health, but doing it with a good relationship with food. All right, let’s get started.

You’re listening to the PCOS Repair Podcast, where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help sprinkled in. Hi, I’m Ashlene Korcek and with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their body in a whole new wa. With the power of our beliefs, our mindset, and our environment, and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the root cause.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repare Podcast, where today we’re going to be diving into how to begin cultivating and creating a better relationship with food as you create better health for your PCOS hormones and actually eat real food. Yes, it is possible. They can go hand in hand, eating healthy, eating real food, eating foods that you like. It just takes a little bit of time to figure out how to have that mindset and how to maybe change up a little bit of what you’re eating, add in more of certain things, less of other things, but not with this negative, I’m not supposed to eat these things if I have PCOS, and I can only eat these things if I have PCOS scenario. With that, let’s start by acknowledging the fact that everybody’s situation is going to be unique. I know I say this every single time we start a new episode, especially with a topic like nutrition but when it comes to an individual person, your genetics, your PCOS symptoms, your PCOS goals, your health goals, your life goals, your current environment, your lifestyle, all of these things are going to vastly impact what you’re currently dealing with in your health and what outcome you actually want in order to feel like you’re thriving and feeling good in your body and that it’s working the way that you want it to.

Then on top of that, I think it’s really important to always remember that we’re doing our best. What we didn’t know a few years ago, we had to just let that go and I have lived in a body with PCOS for a long time. It has felt like an overwhelming series of closed doors, of Catch-22s, of restrictions and difficulty in finding a way to just have basic functioning of my body, like a regular period and optimal fertility to where I can actually get pregnant when I want to and now that I’m done having kids, that my body is at a fitness level and ability to do the things that I love to do. So I get it, I feel the pain where it takes extra effort, and sometimes that extra effort feels fruitless in order to get our bodies up to the look everyone else seems to be at naturally. So while we have these health needs, these health needs come with emotional challenges because of the struggles that we go through. As well as a lot of the symptoms of PCOS affect our energy, our mood, and make it even harder to feel like we have what it takes to make the changes that we feel like we need and then when we think about making changes, we feel more and more and more restricted, and it creates this vicious cycle in our mindset and in our mental health and in our emotions that we begin to stress more and more about diet. We begin to feel more and more helpless about diet and health, and we create this very negative outlook on food and having PCOS. So while we don’t have to wait until our mindset and our philosophy around food has completely revolutionized itself, and we don’t have to wait till we feel like we have an amazing relationship with food, I think it is something that is really important to start cultivating as you are on a PCOS health journey. So yes, there may be periods of time where we need to be a little bit more strict as we heal our hormones and move towards being able to sustain a healthy lifestyle that’s a little bit less restrictive but at the same time, there is a different way of looking at and creating a healthy relationship towards the way that we think about food that is going to give us this turbo boost, really help us to feel excited and passionate and capable because when we don’t feel capable of something, when we feel like everything is stacked against us, it really drags us down and so to be able to just even feel capable and empowered again, to be able to nourish our bodies in a way that doesn’t feel so restrictive and such a catch-22 at every turn, we can really boost our ability on our PCOS healing journey.

What do I mean by a healthy relationship with food? Well, first of all, not just PCOS, but I think the diet industry in general has created this feeling that we almost can’t eat real food, that we need to have a certain macro count, that we need to count calories, that we need to not eat things that are high in fat. Now, hopefully, we are starting to realize that actually high fat things are not as much of the problem at all. Fats can be very healthy for our bodies. In fact, they’re very needed, especially when it comes to healthy hormones. So always buying low fat is not always a great option. When we hear about how to eat for PCOS, you may have heard many so-called experts in the PCOS field saying that you shouldn’t eat dairy or you shouldn’t eat gluten or you should eat non-inflammatory foods and they have these specific blanket statements.

First of all, those aren’t true for everyone and second of all, all of these dietary claims, both from the diet industry or from people that are supposedly experts in PCOS, what they end up doing is creating this very stifled relationship with food that ultimately becomes negative, because if you can’t eat what’s in front of you, or if you always feel bad about what’s in front of you because we can’t always avoid all these things, nor do we necessarily want to, we start to create this negative feeling around eating. I can’t find something to eat. That’s a negative feeling, I don’t know what to cook because I’m not supposed to eat all of these things, that’s a negative feeling, I don’t like this food that I’m supposed to be eating, or I wish I could eat those, those are all negative feelings that we start to develop towards the foods that we’re eating. Now, all of that said, it’s important to note here that there is still a impact of what we eat on our PCOS. There is also an impact of our mental health on our PCOS and so it’s creating that balance between learning how to nourish our body in a way that works for us both physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

How does that start? Well, I think one of the first steps is to stop thinking about good and bad food. Can we start with just saying, here’s where I’m at in my health, PCOS is part of that. This is where I’m at with my lifestyle that is creating my current state of health and where I would like to be is here. When we paint those two pictures for ourselves, then we can say, Okay, I want to go from here to here. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I want to start making the lifestyle adjustments that will get me there because is important to me. What foods? How can I nourish my body to support getting to that goal? Getting to that place that I want to be, feeling the way I want to feel? Then I know this seems like a subtle change, but psychologically, it’s actually a very big change. We go from having good foods and bad foods to foods that are taking us towards our goal and foods that are having a pause and moving towards our goal. Who said our goal has to happen in a certain time frame? If it’s something that matters to us, we’re going to want it to happen sooner rather than later but if we’re sitting here saying, I can’t eat this or this is the wrong thing for me, and we’re getting ourselves weighted down, it creates a negative mental cycle. Whereas if we sit and think about, Okay, these are going to move me towards that goal that I want, then there you go.

The other thing is that even if you find that, say, refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates, I don’t think are good for anyone. They may or may not be any worse or better for someone with PCOS. We may respond more significantly worse to them, but ultimately they’re not really great for anyone and by refined carbohydrate, I mean things that are usually highly processed, so it’s going to come in a package, something that’s usually fairly full of sugar and additives and things like that, and typically fairly high in carbohydrate content. Things that are refined and high in carbohydrates, they’re going to slow your progress towards your goal. Well, however much or however little that we eat of them is going to determine if we’re moving towards our goal or not and how quickly. Is a doughnut bad? Well, it’s not going to move us towards our goal of burning fat and repairing our hormones, dropping a few pounds or reducing our insulin effect or reducing our inflammation but it’s not a bad food because is living life and enjoying certain parts of life really important? Yes, it is. The question is finding that balance that works for you of how much we spend our time and effort moving towards our goal and how much our time we spend being stationary or back pedaling but as we find what is in alignment with our goal and we focus more on those without creating a negative label for the things that are not moving towards our goal. They just are. Another way of thinking about it is think about your closet. Do you have a favorite pair of shoes that are super cute, maybe really lovely high heels, and they’re just not very comfortable? Does that make those shoes bad? They might be your very favorite pair of shoes, but would you want to wear them every single day? Or are you happier when you wear the shoes that make you feel good, the ones that make you comfortable? Foods are like that. They’re not good or bad by themselves but there are certain foods that we want to spend more of our time consuming, and there are certain foods that we want to have on a special occasion and when we start to demonize certain foods and put certain foods on a pedestal, it just gets in our head and messes us up. So I think that’s the very, very first step. If we can catch ourselves and say, Look, it’s not a good or a bad. It’s where do I want to spend most of my time so that I feel better in my body and I create the health that I want. Now, it’s easy to say, These are the foods that I want to eat because this is how I want to feel but many of us with PCOS, many females in general, and many humans in general, we have fallen into patterns of emotional eating. This is a different topic than today, but I think it’s important to at least note that emotional eating definitely drives a lot of our choices and when we’re finding that we know how we want to eat, we know what our goal is, and we know how often we want to wear those uncomfortable, beautiful shoes, going back to our analogy of not having it necessarily be bad, what we may want to recognize instead is that we need to handle our emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, find a different healthier way of handling our stress, handling our frustrations, handling our emotional concerns without turning to food, or finding ways of using a hot or a hot coffee in the morning, if there’s something that you can have that doesn’t necessarily derail you but creates that same atmosphere of comfort, but not necessarily moving away from the goals that you have for yourself.

Hydration is another really important one. So a cup of tea, a sparkling water, something that can both be enjoyable as well as keeping you hydrated. When we stay hydrated, we have less cravings, we feel less hungry, we feel more energy, and we immediately start feeling better in our body within a couple of days of getting enough hydration, other than the fact that you’ll be running to the bathroom more often as soon as you increase your water intake but other than that, we feel so much better. Our cells are all plumped up and happy and functioning well, and it just creates almost an instantaneous feeling better that it makes everything else easier. So I just want to throw out there that make sure you’re getting enough fluids. Also, they will help you with cravings. Other things that help you with cravings is actually, once you get over that hump of about 3-5 days of reducing your refined carbohydrates and sugar intake, you’ll find that your cravings are immensely better. Also, increasing your protein and a little bit of healthy fat will help you feel full longer, which also helps to reduce your cravings. So these are all just kinds of some strategies that as you are trying to change your mindset on food being good or bad, if we set ourselves up for success by not being starving, not having crazy cravings, we will have a lot more success.

I want to share a story of a lady that I was working with a few months back because this was something where she knew her root cause. She knew what she needed to do. She felt like she was set up to do all the right things, but she felt really, really, really stuck when her and I started working together in regards to she would be good all week long, we’ll call her Julie and then on Friday evenings, she would get off of work and she would either pick up, take out, or they would go out to eat, or they would meet up with friends or meet up with family. She felt like she should be able to kick back a little bit on Friday night and have that wind down and not have to cook a meal on Friday night and have something that maybe wasn’t as perfectly healthy. Now, her goal is not necessarily to throw caution to the wind and have whatever she wanted, but she just wanted to be able to have a night off from cooking and night off from preparing food and ultimately have that be okay. So with that, she was really frustrated because what she noticed was happening was that whatever she did on Friday night became bigger than she intended. So maybe she intended to just have takeout but then she would end up having a drink with it and because she’d already had a drink and already had takeout, then she’d end up having some dessert or treat with it and then she would wake up the next morning and she would have more cravings than usual. She would feel more fatigued, she didn’t feel as good, some of it was just coming off from the week, some of it was probably from what she ate the night before and she feels like then all weekend it was this like, Well, I guess we’ll just go with it, I’ve already done this, I’ve already done that and then she knew her Monday schedule was pretty set in stone, she knew how to eat healthy during the week, I’ll just start again on Monday. The problem was that she felt like then she was making no progress. She was spinning her wheels, she was doing everything right during the week and then just this one meal Friday evening was derailing her for the better part of the weekend, and she just couldn’t make the progress that she wanted.

What do we do with that? Well, she learned how to adjust what she did on Friday night and adjust her thinking about good and bad foods. When she started thinking about foods as not necessarily good or bad and not feeling like she had to atone for whatever she did on Friday night when Saturday morning rolled around, she was able to jump back in and have a healthier weekend plan. We also did a lot of planning on what would work on the weekend when things are a little bit more flexible, when things are a little bit more up in the air, when it’s more variable and so she had a toolkit of options for herself to get up and start the Saturday morning right and some ways of doing that that didn’t feel as structured and regimented and allowed her to still feel like she got to have a break on the weekend but it didn’t have to be a break from feeling good. It didn’t have to be a break from eating the foods that were taking her where she wanted and over the next two months, she was able to reach the goals that she had been struggling with for over, I think it was like over 4-6 months that she was just not making any progress and then over two months, she was able to accomplish what she couldn’t even get to move in the right direction over the several months proceeding. So just that simple shift, like she was already doing everything right, she already knew what she was doing. I just want to share that story from the standpoint that this type of mindset shift can be so powerful, even when you feel like you’re doing all the right things, even if you feel like you don’t even know what the right things are yet, but you’re spinning your wheels and nothing seems to be lining up because there seems to be things that are standing in your way. It’s like Catch-22 where you feel like, okay, I need to eat healthy foods, but I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that, I can’t even find a recipe that allows me to cook the way I’m supposed to. You go look at paleo recipes and they have all of this honey and syrup in it and you’re like, well, I don’t think I’m supposed to eat all of that. I’m supposed to have so many grams of protein and I’m trying to keep my calories and it just starts to become too overwhelming to find even anything to eat that fits the criteria of what everyone’s telling you you need to do. I think the other thing that I have come to over many, many years of doing this is ultimately just eat real food. A protein bar is great, a protein shake is great, a protein smoothie that you make at home really is mostly real food, but a protein bar is really just packaged, processed macros and some of the macros are better than others, but they’re still processed macros. I guess we’ll call it that because it’s not necessarily crap, it’s not necessarily junk food, but it’s not really food either. It’s just processed macros and there are times when that is an amazing option to have in your back pocket. I know I take them fairly often when I’m traveling, but I will get stomach aches and I will get headaches and there’s just so many artificial things in even the best protein bars and the problem with the most clean protein bars is they usually don’t have as good of macros and the problem with the better macro bars is usually they aren’t quite as clean.

One way or another, you’re just not getting as good a nutrition as you could otherwise. So while it’s very nicely packaged to deliver what paper looks good when you’re tracking calories, macros, et cetera, I would encourage you to, when possible, opt for real food. Eat some scrambled eggs instead of a protein bar, even if you end up having it with a side of toast, which has more carbohydrates and is more refined. This is something where when you eat real food, your body knows what to do with it and your body doesn’t do weird things that we’re seeing more and more and more, where we start to see rises in cases of PCOS or autoimmune disorders and probably linked to, although we haven’t really done enough studies, and nutrition is hard to study in general, but perhaps because of all of the artificial preservatives, et cetera, that we put in a lot of our packaged foods these days.

So ultimately, as you go through and listen to this episode, I hope that this is feeling, in some ways that you’re able to create a more sustainable eating pattern for a lifestyle and again, in other episodes, we have mentioned that there’s different phases of our PCOS healing, right? There’s going to be times where we just need to really dig in and be more strict so that we can get over those humps so that we can rebalance the hormones and then once we’ve calmed down a lot of those symptoms and our body starts to function more the way we want to, we can create more of a balance in a lifestyle that is even more sustainable than we’re in that healing phase but ultimately, even all the way through, finding ways to have that mental shift between food being good or bad, or that you have to eat a small amount. I mean, sometimes we eat a smaller amount because we’re not hungry, sometimes we eat a bigger amount and being a little bit more flexible and listening to your body a little bit more instead of being so rigid with what we’ve been told is supposed to work or not supposed to work, because I’m going to tell you, I’ve worked with a lot, a lot, a lot of women with PCOS and a rule for PCOS is that the rules don’t apply. Every single person that I’ve worked with needs to go about it slightly different, the amounts, the timing, everything just works differently for different people and honestly, I don’t even know that it’s so much the food. I think so much of it is actually fit into how their day works, like what time they eat, what time they wake up? What time they go to bed? How their sleep is? All of these things lead up to what time of the day are you hungry for breakfast? Well, if you eat when you’re hungry for breakfast, then you avoid snacking and was it really what you ate for breakfast or was it the timing? You can see all of these little tiny variables. Which one is it that’s making the difference? Well, I think what makes the difference is you listening to what works for you and then applying the principles of your specific root cause that you’re dealing with, what nutrients are going to be the best for it but that doesn’t mean and we’re going to talk about this in future episodes, that the perfection is not what brings in the result, the perfection will actually stop you in your tracks but what brings it in is when you have those principles and you’re applying them to the best of your ability, but with the flexibility of listening to how it’s working for you.

What you like and don’t like, do you bring taste into it? When you’re hungry, when you’re not, you’re bringing in your body’s cues? When you’re needing a snack, did you need a snack if you ate a more fulfilling breakfast? Did you need a snack if you included more protein in your breakfast? Okay, you did need a snack, so you bring in that snack and how does that affect the rest of your day? You can see where it’s this constant learning, but it’s not about a right or wrong, a good or bad, a one-size-fits-all. When we start to take that outside expert opinion and pigeonhole ourselves into this cookie-cutter approach, we start to feel like it’s not working for us but instead, if we can adopt the principles of what we need and use them to listen to our bodies and provide the tools that our bodies need through what we have learned about hormones, PCOS, and then specifically ourselves, and then apply them to our specific situation and lifestyle, looking towards what are our specific goals and desired outcomes, all of a sudden, it all fits together like the perfect puzzle that was designed for us.

That’s what I will leave you with today. I want to leave you with an action step because most of the time with these episodes, I like to leave you with something to actually do. Instead of focusing on punishing yourself what you’ve eaten and thinking of foods as good or bad and trying to eat diet food so that you avoid certain ingredients or avoid certain calories or try to achieve certain macros. By diet foods, I mean are prepared by companies to be the answer to this problem that we have. Instead, I would invite you to begin to recognize when you’re having those thoughts, when you’re taking those actions that are putting you in that negative mindset towards the foods that you’re eating, and just start to become aware of them. This is a much more philosophical, mindset-related approach and yes, there is an action and a physical approach to PCOS wellness as well but this part of it is going to really give you that peace and excitement about health again. It really helps with the motivation. It really helps with the sustainability and ultimately, it keeps it all a lot more fun and if something is fun, we stick with it. If something is horrible and negative, we tend to try to avoid it best we can and when we’re trying to avoid it and having internal battle, it’s really difficult to make any forward progress.

So with that, it’s time for me to say goodbye for today because I know I’ve talked long enough, but I would love to hear any of your aha’s as you start to recognize those thoughts and mindset shifts in your life as they pertain to food and I would love to hear about them in my DMs over on Instagram. You can find me @Nourishedtohealthy. So please share your aha’s or questions over there and until next time, I’m very excited for you to just start noticing and starting this new mindset towards the foods that you’re eating because I think so many times at PCOS, we get stuck in this box of good and bad, and I can eat this and I can’t eat that and while there are principles of what is going to be more nourishing and less nourishing, that doesn’t make the foods good or bad or it doesn’t make having a negative relationship with food the way towards health. So until next time, bye for now.

Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful. When we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs, not only do we gain back our health, but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves. This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started. My PCOS Fertility Meal Guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free, so go get your copy now so that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.

Take The PCOS Root Cause Quiz

   What Do Your Symptoms Mean?

  Discover your current PCOS Root Cause

Start to reverse PCOS at the root cause. 

Results are not guaranteed. Please see Medical Disclaimer for more detail.

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About Show

Welcome to The PCOS Repair Podcast!

I’m Ashlene Korcek, and each week I’ll be sharing the latest findings on PCOS and how to make practical health changes to your lifestyle to repair your PCOS at the root cause.

If you’re struggling with PCOS, know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that one in ten women have PCOS. But the good news is that there is a lot we can do to manage our symptoms and live healthy, happy lives.

So whether you’re looking for tips on nutrition, exercise, supplements, or mental health, you’ll find it all here on The PCOS Repair Podcast. Ready to get started? Hit subscribe now