12 PCOS Lunch Ideas to Boost Energy and Balance Hormones
In this post, you'll find a list of simple PCOS lunch ideas you can try today.
What you eat for lunch affects your PCOS symptoms…for better or worse.
You already know experts always recommend eating healthy, but when you have PCOS what you eat matters even more.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s PCOS Booklet, diet is a “contributing factor” to PCOS. What's more, certain foods are associated with weight gain and insulin resistance, while others can regulate your hormones and stabilise your blood sugar.
If you’re looking for easy, healthy PCOS lunch ideas that will manage your symptoms, I’ve got you covered.
What should I eat for lunch with PCOS?
When planning your PCOS-friendly lunch, load up on a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Eating a balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. Controlling your weight can reduce the risk of PCOS-related complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Plus, eating this way will balance your hormones, lower your inflammation, and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Specific foods to restrict include refined carbohydrates writes author and naturopathic doctor Nadia Brito Pateguana in the PCOS Plan:
“All carbohydrates will produce an insulin response but the biggest culprit is the refined carbohydrates such as sweets, white bread, and flour. Unprocessed carbohydrates, such as legumes and tubers, have much lower insulin simulation compared with processed carbohydrates such as bread and sugar.”
Because carbs drive up insulin, you’ll need to avoid a couple of foods to build a PCOS-friendly lunch. Here are few examples per the Veteran Affairs’ Nutrition and Food Services department:
“The insulin level in your blood goes up after you eat. The insulin level is highest after consuming carbohydrates such as grains (bread, rice, pasta), starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, peas), fruit and fruit juice, milk and yogurt, sweets and sugary beverages (soda, sports drinks). Aim to eat consistent, portion controlled amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day for stable blood sugar levels.”
A review published in the Current Nutrition Reports 2023 journal supports this advice and finds that eating a diet rich in healthy fats and vitamin D can help treat PCOS.
Additionally, try to limit or avoid processed foods and added sugars, as these can allworsen PCOS symptoms.
5 PCOS-friendly lunch foods
Here are some of the types of foods you'll need to put together a PCOS lunch.
1. Lean protein
Lean protein sources in your lunch will keep you feeling fuller for longer and control your blood sugar levels.
Melissa Nieves, registered dietitian, tells Everyday Health protein is a key part of a balanced diet:
“Adequate protein intake is vital to overall health. It’s the body’s building block, as bones, muscles, skin, and blood are all made up of protein.”
Protein sources include:
- Grilled chicken or turkey breast
- Baked fish (salmon, tuna, cod)
- Tofu or tempeh
- Lentils or beans
2. Non-starchy vegetables
Pack your PCOS-friendly lunches with non-starchy vegetables. These veggies are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.
As Barbie Cervoni, registered dietitian, notes in this Very Well Health article:
“Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates. Starchy vegetables, such as corn and potatoes, contain more carbohydrates, and, therefore, more quickly increase your blood sugar.”
Non-starchy vegetables include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)
- Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Cucumber, zucchini, and asparagus
Find a full list of non-starchy vegetables here.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains have a lower glycemic index meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as refined grains. Further, whole grain foods are credited with controlling weight and blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Not only that but whole grains may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, reports Harvard Health.
“Replacing refined grains with whole grains and eating at least 2 servings of whole grains daily may help to reduce type 2 diabetes risk. The fiber, nutrients, and phytochemicals in whole grains may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism and slow the absorption of food, preventing blood sugar spikes. In contrast, refined grains tend to have a high glycemic index and glycemic load with less fiber and nutrients.”
Whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread or wraps
- Barley or bulgur
4. Healthy fats
All fats are not created equal and some can wreck havoc on your health in the long-term.
Add healthy fats to your lunch, recommends HelpGuide.org:
“Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.”
Conversely, avoid bad fats like trans fats. Processed foods, packaged snacks, and commercially baked pastries typically contain trans fats.
Healthy fat sources:
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia seeds)
- Olive oil or avocado oil
- Nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew butter)
5. Low-glycemic fruits
Prioritise fruits that are lower in sugar and won't spike your blood sugar levels.
One way to check how much a fruit, or any food, will affect your blood sugar is to check its rating on the glycemic index. Balance Women’s Health explains the glycemic index:
“The glycemic index (GI) is a system of ranking carbohydrates based on how much they raise blood-glucose levels. It was originally developed for diabetics, but its usefulness has grown with our understanding of the impact blood-sugar levels have on hunger.
“You eat a carbohydrate. The rise in blood sugar triggers a boost in insulin production. Insulin reduces your blood sugar, which leaves you feeling irritable and lethargic. Falling blood-sugar levels can cause you to get hungrier faster.
Low glycemic index fruits include:
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)
Easy PCOS lunch ideas examples
Here’s how the above recommendations might look like in practice:
- Grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed broccolii.
- Spinach salad with mixed vegetables, grilled salmon, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.
- Chickpea and vegetable curry served with a side of brown rice.
- Whole grain wrap filled with lean protein (turkey, chicken, or tofu), mixed greens, and sliced avocado.
- Sourdough bread with smashed avocado.
Remember to prioritise simple lunches you can put together without too many ingredients or too much prep. My go-to PCOS lunches include chicken salad, avocado toast, and smoothies. If I'm in in the mood, I'll fry up a plate of creamy scrambled eggs or load the blender with low-GI frozen fruits for a PCOS smoothie. I can do any of these options with my limited kitchen skills and time.
Honestly, keeping things simple helps me stick to a PCOS diet in the long term.
12 healthy lunch ideas for PCOS
Below, you'll find PCOS-friendly lunch ideas you can prepare with simple ingredients when you're short on time.
- Herby smoked salmon omelette: This salmon omlette is easy to make and packed full of healthy fats and protein. To make the omlette, start by whisking together the eggs, herbs, and spring onion. Once the bottom of the omlette is set, add the salmon strips. That's all it takes.
- Avocado tuna spinach salad: A refreshing avocado salad you can pull together in under 10 minutes making it an ideal pick for a quick PCOS lunch. This salad is packed with healthy fats and vitamins, making it a nutritious and delicious meal. It's also easy to customize with your favorite ingredients. For a vegan option, try adding some chickpeas or tofu.
- Keto avocado toast: I’m a major fan of avocado toast, and it’s great to know you can get it low-carb. Sourdough bread is also a good option. I like to top my avocado toast with a sprinkle of salt and pepper plus a squeeze of lemon juice. To make it PCOS-friendly, make sure to use whole-grain bread. You can even add some greens like arugula for an extra nutritional boost.
- Greek chicken souvlaki: You'll only need 20 minutes and a couple of simple ingredients to prepare this chicken souvlaki. Once cooked, the chicken souvlaki can be served with a side of Greek salad or hummus. It's an ideal option if you're after a simple yet tasty PCOS lunch.
- Thai basil chicken: Chock full of garlic, chillies, and basil, this chicken recipe is full of flavour. Serve it with a side of roasted vegetables or brown rice.
- Baked salmon and cauliflower rice: Salmon is a healthy fat, and cauliflower rice is a great low-GI side that won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
- Honey lime chicken: Pair this honey lime chicken with an avocado salad. This chicken is made with a simple marinade of honey, lime juice, olive oil, chilli powder, and garlic.
- Steak bites and sweet potatoes: You don’t need a ton of prep time to prepare this meal, which is also gluten-free. You'll have a low-carb PCOS lunch that provides a ton of protein and nutrients. I love sprinkling some chillie flakes over the sweet potatoes. You can also steam the sweet potatoe in a pressure cooker if you like - I know I love the ease of adding a couple of sweet potatoes and carrots to the Instant Pot and getting on with my day.
- Creamy carrot ginger soup: Ideal for balancing hormones, This soup is packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, and K1. Carrots are also a great source of fiber to help keep you full for longer. Ginger adds a warm, spicy flavor that compliments the sweetness of the carrots. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Roasted vegetable salad: Another hormone-balancing PCOS lunch, this roasted vegetable salad offers protein, non-starchy vegetables, and fiber in a single meal. You can customise based on your preferences.
- Chicken fajitas: An easy PCOS lunch you can cook in 20 minutes. Even better, the whole family is bound to enjoy these chicken fajitas.
- Sweet potato lentil curry: An easy, anti-inflammatory PCOS lunch you can get onto your plate in 25 minutes. Sweet potatoes are high in anti-oxidants and fiber, so this is a great addition to your rotation of PCOS lunch recipes.
Pick an easy PCOS lunch idea to try
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables can help you feel your best. Limit your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and refined sugars. Switching to a new way of eating is always daunting, so pick an easy recipe and try it a few times.