How to Make a PCOS Grocery List to Manage Your Symptoms
A full PCOS grocery list.
But to make the best dietary choices, you first have to make the right choices in the grocery store.And here’s where a PCOS grocery list becomes a powerful tool.
Knowing what to add to your shopping cart and what’s off limits makes it far easier for you to plan healthy meals you enjoy eating.
In this article, we'll guide you through a comprehensive PCOS grocery list that focuses on foods that help to heal your PCOS.
How to create a PCOS grocery list: x tips
If you’ve only just started following a PCOS diet, going to the grocery store can be daunting.
Once I learned the role of food in PCOS, I felt like I needed to completely overhaul my eating habits immediately to avoid serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. My high-carb, high-sugar eating regime wasn’t PCOS-friendly.
I started researching the best way to change my diet and found that the most important thing was to focus on eating real, whole foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats were the key.
From experience, I knew I wouldn’t do well with massive, sweeping changes. So I started by making small swaps. I substituted sugary drinks for water and smoothies, candies for dark chocolate, and french fries for sweet potato mash.
This was my process, you might find following a different set of steps before you head off to the supermarket may make the process less overwhelming. Bottom line: doing some research and planning before making your list will set you up for success.
I’ve condensed a few of the most important tips below:
- Understand the best and worst foods for PCOS: Generally, you’ll choose whole foods that improve insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation. Think lean proteins like chicken and vegetables like broccoli. Conversely, some of the worst foods for PCOS include refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, and sugary drinks, should be avoided as they can cause a spike in blood sugar. Plus,processed foods, red meats, and foods high in saturated fats should be limited. Books like The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS and The PCOS Plan: Prevent and Reverse Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Through Diet and Fasting are useful resources if you’re just getting started.
- Review your pantry: Head into your pantry and make a note of any items that are not PCOS-friendly and plan to replace them with healthier options you’d have discovered in the first step.
- Find your go to recipes: Making meals with PCOS in mind can be intimidating at first, but with a few simple recipes you can quickly become comfortable in the kitchen. Look for recipes that include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. You can also include lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and beans.
- Make a three-day meal plan: In The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook, Angela Grassi recommends heading to the grocery store with a three-day meal plan in hand. Using this approach gives you a clear direction for what you need to eat.
Remember that diet is only part of a PCOS treatment plan. You’ll need to incorporate exercise and other self-care habits to see lasting change. My intention with this post is to share a useful resource you can turn to when planning your shopping trips, but this post - and anything on this site, really - isn’t a substitute for personalised, professional advice. I reversed my PCOS symptoms once I made a couple of major lifestyle changes and worked with a team of experts to check my progress.
PCOS grocery list essentials
Below, we list everything you need to add to your PCOS grocery list.
Meat, poultry, fish
Protein stabilises blood sugar levels and leaves you feeling fuller for longer, and that’s particularly beneficial for keeping your weight in check.
Source: The Easy PCOS Diet Cookbook: Fuss-Free Recipes for Busy People on the Insulin Resistance Diet by Tara Spencer
Fruits are filled with a variety of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. A bonus is that incorporating them into your meals can also add flavor and texture to your dishes.
But not all fruits are great for PCOS. For example, watermelon can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. You can find a list of PCOS-friendly fruits on this list of low-glycemic fruits,
Source: PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook
Fiber-rich vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and can help to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Eating a variety of vegetables is important for overall health, as. Each type of vegetable offers different benefits. It's key to load up on a whole range of vegetables. For example, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in iron and calcium, while cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are packed with antioxidants.
- Bean sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
- Leafy green vegetables
- Spring onions
Source: PCOS Plan
Snacking for PCOS has its advantages and disadvantages.
Advocates say regular snacking leaves you feeling you fuller and controls your blood sugar levels, while detractors say eating constantly keeps your insulin levels high.
For me, stocking up on PCOS-friendly snacks staves off hunger and prevents the mid-afternoon energy dip. Check in with your doctor if you have specific concerns about when - and what - you’re eating.
Healthy snacks for PCOS include:
- Nut butter
- Dark chocolate
- Greek yoghurt
Herbs, seeds, and spices
Adding the right herbs, seeds, and spices to your grocery list can improve a couple of PCOS symptoms, from insulin resistance to elevated blood sugar.
According to a systematic review published in the 2023 Biotech journal, many herbs contain ingredients that control PCOS.
Cinnamon, for example, has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. Turmeric provides proven anti-inflammatory benefits. Not only that, but spices bring flavour to your PCOS meals. One consequence of loading up on healthy spices is you’ll automatically use less salt.
Source: 2023 Biotech journal
Dairy and PCOS are a controversial combination. There's evidence that dairy may worsen inflammation. That’s bad news because PCOS is already tied with higher levels of inflammation. Plus, due to its lactose content, milk is a carb.
On the other hand, dairy offers important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
Here’s the thing: some people find that limiting dairy helps them manage PCOS symptoms, while others find that including some dairy in their diet is beneficial. The takeaway? The best approach is to experiment and find what works best for you.
Source: POCS plan
Fats and oils
Healthy fats, like monounsaturated fats, raise the good cholesterol levels and support brain health, per Harvard Health.
Lyuda Bouzinova, nutrition specialist, and personal trainer, tells Byrdie: "Healthy fats are those that come from single-ingredient, all-natural foods like avocado, nuts, and salmon. They are listed under monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat on the nutrition label. They are important to consume for general health—to avoid disease, improve heart health, and boost your brain functioning."
- Extra virgin oil
- Coconut oil
- Flaxseed oil
Source: Easy PCOS cookbook
PCOS-friendly drinks won't affect your blood sugar levels. Some great options for PCOS-friendly drinks are water, unsweetened tea, and sparkling water. Coconut water is also a great option as it is low in sugar and high in electrolytes.
If you're looking for something with a bit more flavor, you can try adding fresh herbs or citrus to your water. Smoothies are also a great way to get in some extra nutrients while still keeping your blood sugar levels in check. For an extra boost, you can add in some chia or flax seeds to your smoothie.
- Green tea
Create a grocery list that heals PCOS
Start by making a list of all the foods you know you can eat. This will help you focus on the items you need and avoid those that don’t fit into your diet. When you’re in the store, read the labels carefully to make sure you’re buying the right food. Avoid processed foods and opt for fresh produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Don’t forget to look for foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Finally, always check the nutrition facts to make sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients.