Many of my clients are a student with PCOS, and I’ve been asked a few times to put together some tips and tricks on how to manage PCOS whilst at uni and how to not let your symptoms get out of control.
I was at the University of Leeds from 2009-2013, and wow what a few years they were. Believe it or not I actually went to do Theatre studies!
2 days in and I had a small epiphany, realising my heart and passion lied with nutrition. This definitely came from my PCOS diagnosis, as I was determined to fully understand it and not let it define me.
I remember running to the science department and praying there would still be space. Luck was on my side and I started my Nutrition degree the next day!
Being a student with PCOS, there were many tricks of the trade I figured out along the way, and how to control my symptoms whilst still having fun.
Going from 8 hours to 28 hours was quick a shock, spending quite a bit of my time in lab coats and big goggles. However I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m now doing exactly what I love, helping all you lovely ladies!
Uni life unfortunately can be quite an unhealthy lifestyle.
Big nights out at least 3 times a week, no energy to do any exercise, cheap takeaways, poor sleep and just feeling pretty gross are all things I definitely went through. I was only at the beginning of my PCOS journey, so I still had a lot to figure out.
I’ve put together a few tips below on how a student with PCOS can control your symptoms but equally live your best life – as that’s what Uni is all about!
- Stick to clear liquors
I know everyone is on a budget but stay away from the Jacobs Creek and Blossom Hills I beg you. Wine that looks like Ribena will be PACKED with sugar and calories. Necking one of these not only costs you 700 calories, but sends your insulin souring and provides one savage hangover.
My go to drink was always vodka, Robinsons squash and water. Keeps you hydrated but also gets you a happy drunk and doesn’t hit the calorie bank quite so hard. Tequila and Gin will suffice too, however Gin made me cry like a pathetic toddler. So I avoided it like the plague!
- Do a weekly shop and fill your fridge with healthy snacks
On a hangover all we want is snacks snacks snacks. If you’re prepared with healthy versions in the fridge, it will stop you ordering processed crap. Chicken pieces, carrots and hummus, ham, Crudites, Berries, Nuts and gluten free crisps I would recommend for sure.
- Intermittent Fasting
This is just another word for ‘skipping breakfast’ and although there has been some evidence that it can help with insulin sensitivity for PCOS, you’re providing a smaller window to consume calories.
If I had a big night and ate the world after, I would try to ‘fast’ on the following day. I would stick to low calorie foods and keep my protein high. Being a student with PCOS, it’s much easier to put on weight so we need to watch the calories when we can!
If you are going out a lot, try and have two 500 calorie days through the week to make sure you don’t pile on the pounds. Trust me, I put on about 2 stone over Uni so I’m telling you – it does happen!
Try cauliflower rice (whole bag is 50 calories!), asparagus and chicken. Mix it up in a pan, add some garlic salt and pepper and you’re good to go!
- NEAT UP 24/7
Did you know just by walking for an hour a day you can burn more calories than one gym session? People don’t realise just by getting your steps up, you’re actually consuming a lot of energy. Everyone is different, but you can honestly burn up to 500 calories per 10,000 steps.
If you don’t have the energy to gym, grab a friend and get outside. Get walking, go and explore. Make sure your Heart app on your phone is active so you can track how many steps you get. Not only this but it’s amazing what some fresh air and movement can do for the mind. You might even enjoy your uni work afterwards!
I know this might be hard, but you really don’t need to go to every student night out. Let’s be honest they all roll into one and you probably won’t remember what happened.
Look after yourself and be kind. Don’t put your body under so much stress. Take a night off sometimes and treat yourself to a pamper evening.
Face masks, herbal teas, Netflix and a Poke bowl.
Your PCOS symptoms will really thank you.
Remember, women with PCOS are likely to have up to 40% less BMR than someone without PCOS. If you feel you are putting on weight, it’s because you are in a calorie surplus and your body just doesn’t need all that food.
Yes it’s unfair and annoying when your mate can eat the entire fridge and not put on a pound, but its life and something we need to eventually accept.
I’m just giving you some tough love so you don’t come home after 3 years as a spotty, overweight girl.
University is there to help you grow. I want you to come out a confident Claire, not an anxious Annie ready to take on the world.
Your body is your home and the only thing you can solely rely on.
Enjoy yourself sure, but take care of yourself too.
You’ll thank me in years to come!
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