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Dining Out The Smart Way With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Let’s be honest.

When you have dietary restrictions of any kind, dining out has the potential to suck.

It’s way too easy to forget what you aren’t supposed to be eating when you’re with a group full of people who are chowing down on sugary, fried deliciousness. Before you know it, you’ve ‘sampled’ a bit of what they have, then flagged down the waiter to order your own dish.

It tastes great in the moment of course but has the potential to cause some pretty nasty after-effects. As you probably know, us ladies with PCOS are prone to symptom flare-ups in general, but the food we eat heavily plays a part as well.

Great news: with a bit of preparation and willpower, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Before your next restaurant outing, jot down these tips to prepare you. They’ve been a big help to me no matter where I go.

NOTE: These are great tips because they apply to any dietary guideline — Keto, Paleo, whatever!

Check The Restaurant’s Nutrition Guide Online.

This is always, ALWAYS the first go-to. Most restaurants have printable PDF nutrition guides on their websites.

Print off the guide or view it in your browser and study. the. heck. out of it.  If it’s a restaurant you frequent on a regular basis, you can circle dishes that fall into your dietary guidelines on a hard copy of the guide.

You’ll walk into the restaurant already knowing what you’re going to order, which is half the battle and will help you stick to your guns a little better than going in blind.

Be Mindful Of Portion Sizes.

Alright, so you’ve found meals that fit into your diet. Awesome!

But there’s still one aspect you’ve got to be aware of when dining out: portion sizes.

At a lot of chain restaurants, the portions are huge. A meal meant for one person can easily feed two (or even three!) people. Unfortunately, this also applies to meals that are otherwise considered ‘healthy’. I’ve chosen what were supposed to be lighter meals from restaurants to later find out that I’d gone over my caloric limit because the portion was way too big.

There’s no great way to judge your portion sizes besides eyeballing your plate. If it looks like too much for you to handle, either split it with a friend or eat half and take the remainder to-go.


Eat A Snack Before You Go.

This piggybacks on the last tip. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’ve been starving before I’ve gone out to eat. You know what I said about eyeballing your portions? Well, that goes right out of the window when you’re really hungry.

The best defense for this?  Eat a small snack before you leave out. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Some nuts, string cheese, a piece of fruit… you get the idea. It’ll curb your appetite so you’ve not ravenous, but still hungry enough for a full meal.

Drink Water.

Another no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how much some of us forget to do this at restaurants. When I’m drinking pop, wine or a cocktail, I’m prone to be way more lax with what I’m eating than if I have a big glass of water in front of me. It also suppresses my appetite and helps me feel pretty full as I’m eating my meal.

Plain or lemon water is also typically free at most restaurants. Bonus!

You Can’t Go Wrong With A Salad (Usually).

Nightmare scenario incoming:

You’ve just gone out to a restaurant with a group of people. You aren’t familiar with the menu. When you get there, you realize that most of the offerings aren’t acceptable for your dietary guidelines. What do you do?

I know this is cliche, but it’s true: you can’t go wrong with a salad.*

The most basic of side salads come with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, olives and a packet or cup of dressing. You can request that some items be removed, or add others on, like grilled chicken or steak. Trust me: it’s not ideal, but better than giving in to something that’s guaranteed to be much worse.

*I’ve seen some salads so dense in calories and fat from chain restaurants that you’d be better off getting a double bacon cheeseburger with large fries! Watch out for salads that have breaded meat, a lot of croutons or copious amounts of salad dressing.

Have any tips for dining out that you don’t see here? Share them in the comments!


Stay Positive,


The Most Popular PCOS Diets

PCOS and nutrition is a very popular and sometimes controversial topic amongst nutritionists, doctors and women with PCOS.

Some women swear by certain diets. Others who have tried the same dietary guidelines found that their symptoms worsened and opted to follow another diet.

No matter the diet, women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome have the same common goal — avoid insulin spikes. Since most women with PCOS battle with insulin resistance, they opt for diets that are low in sugar, carbs and are absent of preservatives and other hormone-disrupting chemicals.

In the four years since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve done extensive research on PCOS compatible diets. Ketogenic, Paleo, Low-Carb and Low GI are, by far, the most discussed and suggested diets for women with PCOS.

Keep reading for a breakdown of all four diets and my thoughts on them at the end of the post.


Ketogenic Diet

What is it?: The Ketogenic diet, also known as Keto, is a unique high-fat, low carbohydrate diet that has extremely strict daily allowances for carbs (typically 20g or lower) and a goal of literally no sugar consumption.

When the body goes without sugar or carbs for a time (length varies by person, but typically a week or two), it enters a state of Ketosis, believed to be a “fat-burning” state. Since women with PCOS often have trouble shedding weight, it’s thought to be doubly helpful by encouraging weight loss and minimizing symptoms.

What’s a typical meal on Keto?: With all grains and most carbs and sugars cut out, you’re limited to any meat, non-starchy vegetable and most fats.

For example, dinner might be a steak with broccoli for dinner, with a salad paired with high-fat dressing on the side.

Why is it popular with PCOS Women?: Since the diet greatly reduces the carb and sugar intake (the primary causes of insulin spikes), many women report a reduction in symptom inflammation and an easier time losing weight.


Paleolithic Diet

What is it?:  The Paleo diet has become wildly popular in the past decade. It’s modeled after what’s thought to be the diet of cavemen, e.g. only things that could be hunted, fished and harvested. In other words, it’s a grain-free diet consisting of a wide variety of  meats, fruits and vegetables. Some who follow the diet exclude dairy products like milk, eggs and cheese.

What’s a typical meal on Paleo?:  Paleo meals provide a bit more wiggle room than Keto in that starchy vegetables are allowed sometimes.

An example of a Paleo dinner would be pork chops, mashed sweet potato and kale.

Why is it popular with PCOS women?: The paleo diet seems to borrow from the low-glycemic index list of foods, which offers a lot more wiggle room in what can and can’t be eaten when compared to keto.

Low-Carbohydrate Diet

What is it?:  The low-carb diet is one of the most popular diets of the last three decades. The goal is to keep carb intake much lower than that of the Standard American Diet (about 300g carbs a day). Atkins, probably the most well-known low-carb diet, limits newcomers to about 25g. After a short length of time (it was a week last time I was on it), the carbs are increased to 50g, then 75g and so on. In other words, it’s a pretty dramatic removal of carbs from the diet, followed by gradually increasing them to a reasonable amount.

What’s a typical Low-Carb meal?:  Low-carb diets are extremely flexible in what can be had and want can’t. Unlike Keto or Paleo, grains are not excluded.

A low-carb dinner may consist of a low-carb tortilla wrap filled with taco-seasoned ground turkey and lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, etc.

Why is it popular with PCOS women?: It’s about one of the only diets that doesn’t seek to cut out particular food groups so much as it promotes carb intake in moderation. You can still enjoy the occasional snack or treat so long as you’re mindful of your intake.

Low Glycemic Index Diet

What is it?: The Low Glycemic Index Diet (or Low GI for short) is a list of foods ranked by how much the blood glucose level is raised upon consumption. It’s a go-to for people who are diabetic and pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant. The typical rule of thumb is that the starchier the food, the higher the blood glucose level.

What’s a typical Low GI meal?: Again, one of the positives about the Low GI diet is the variety of foods available.

A dinner on the Low GI diet could be grilled chicken breasts, brown rice and lima beans.

Why is it popular with PCOS women?: With the flexibility it offers and a very easy list of foods to remember at the grocery store, it’s a diet that aims to make managing insulin levels as easy as possible.


So What’s The BEST One?

There isn’t one.

But only because there’s no such thing as a one size fits all diet or nutrition plan.

I’ve tried all four of these diets with varying results. I do have preferences leaning towards a couple (which I’ll cover down the road in separate reviews). You really need to try them individually before you can make a definitive decision.

I wouldn’t suggest, say, sweeping your kitchen of all low-GI items to try Paleo. But next time you’re at the grocery store, write a small list with items from the diets you want to try. Make meals following those plans and see how you feel. If you like it, stick to it!  If not, you can always move on and try something else.

Did I miss one?  Please share it with me in the comments!  (Honestly, I thought really long and hard about this topic and could only come up with the diets listed above).

Stay Positive!


– Elle