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List Of Foods Women With PCOS Should Avoid

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Women with PCOS typically suffer from hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance and problems with weight. These significantly increase the risk of infertility, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and affect the overall quality of life. Women with PCOS also face increased risk of generalized anxiety. 

Diet is a crucial part of reversing PCOS. While a low-carb, good fat diet suits most women with PCOS, a question that experts are often asked is about the foods that should be avoided by women with PCOS symptoms.

Why Should Certain Foods Be Avoided?

Obesity can both be caused by PCOS and can also be the effect. Excessive weight, especially in terms of weight around the abdomen, can worsen PCOS by increasing the quantity and action of male hormones. In general, all foods that cause a sharp spike in the hormone insulin – mostly processed foods and grain carbohydrates like white rice, rotis, bread and bakery products – are best avoided by women with PCOS. 

List Of Foods To Be Avoided:

Foods rich in carbohydrates

Eating too many carbs leads to an increase in insulin resistance and body weight in women with PCOS. Whenever limited amounts of grain carbohydrates are had in the form of rice or roti, they must be sufficiently balanced with good fats like ghee and butter, to ensure that the sugar in the carbs does not spike a sharp insulin response. When insulin is spiked regularly in the body, it leads to higher levels of male hormones like testosterone, which can worsen symptoms of PCOS. Fruits that are high in sugar load, like mangoes and chikus, processed cereal, all bread, rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet corn should be minimized or avoided.


Soda, candy, cookies and other desserts are the foods that should be completely avoided because they add a high amount of glucose to the body which in turn leads to insulin resistance and high levels of male hormones.

Foods with a high GI (Glycemic Index)

Foods with a high glycemic index digest faster and hence cause a spike in insulin levels and insulin resistance. Foods with a high glycemic index even increase some of the other health risks associated with PCOS including endometrial cancer. Some commonly-consumed high-GI foods are watermelon, honey, white rice, white bread and doughnuts. Foods having a high glycemic index also increase the risk of coronary heart diseases.

Processed food

Processed and packaged carbohydrate-rich foods are generally stripped of their fiber content. Fiber slows the digestion and also helps in lowering the immediate surges in glucose levels after intake of food. Therefore, processed foods like breakfast cereals are an unhealthy choice, especially for women with PCOS. 

Ripened vegetables

Vegetables are a good source of fibers and help in slowing down the digestion, thus preventing an immediate surge in blood glucose level. Upon ripening, however, their glycemic index increases. Hence, ripened vegetables should not be included in the diet plan of women with PCOS. Pumpkin is one such vegetable which should be avoided.

Dairy products

Research shows that processed dairy products like milk and cheese can aggravate insulin resistance, male hormones and worsen PCOS symptoms like acne. Low-fat dairy products lead to an increased secretion of androgen which again worsens the symptoms of PCOS. Therefore, low-fat dairy products should be avoided by women with PCOS. If you must eat dairy, stick with whole fat dairy. 

Soy products

In general, soy products available in the market are poorly processed. Soy contains certain naturally occurring toxins which need fermentation in order to be removed. Unless you have a genuine Japanese or Korean source, avoid soy as it can make oestrogen dominance symptoms (common in women with PCOS) a lot worse.

Avoiding these foods and eating a diet that is rich in green vegetables and healthy fats is the best strategy to reversing PCOS symptoms. 

While dietary changes can definitely have a positive impact in managing PCOD, reversing the condition requires a holistic approach. Learn how to reverse PCOD naturally with Sepalika’s 5-Petal PCOD Programme. Our personalised protocols using a holistic approach help treat PCOD at the root through diet, nutrition, exercise, Ayurveda and magnet acutherapy. What’s more, expert consults via phone and WhatsApp help you always stay on track in your journey to overcome PCOD. Click here to know more.


  1. Weight management practices associated with PCOS and their relationships with diet and physical activity.
  2. Comparison of Dietary Intake between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Women and Controls.
  3. Evaluating compliance to a low glycaemic index (GI) diet in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  4. Role of changes in dietary habits in polycystic ovary syndrome.
  5. Glycemic index and disease
  6. Weight management practices associated with PCOS and their relationships with diet and physical activity
  7. Relation of nutrients and hormones in polycystic ovary syndrome
  8. The Relationship between Intake of Dairy Products and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Women Who Referred to Isfahan University of Medical Science Clinics in 2013.

Sharda Agarwal

Sharda Agarwal

Co-founder, Sepalika. Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (Cert Awaited), Nutritional Therapy Association, USA
Sharda Agarwal is a qualified Functional Nutrition Therapy Practitioner. She first used dietary supplements to overcome a debilitating migraine she suffered for years. Since then she has studied the subjects of nutrition and nutrients extensively. She uses this to manage the health of her family at home and with Sepalika.
Sharda Agarwal

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Medical And General Disclaimer for
This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. strongly recommends that you consult a medical practitioner for implementing any of the above. Results may vary from person to person.

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