PCOS, as we know, affects millions of women worldwide, and recent research presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference has shed light on a seriously concerning issue that no one is speaking about.
Women with PCOS are found to be six times more likely to suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Shockingly, as many as one-third of women dealing with PCOS also grapple with binge eating disorder (BED).
Unraveling the Roots of Binge Eating
So why are we much more likely to experience eating disorders? Let’s take a look…
One significant factor contributing to the development of eating disorders in women with PCOS is the hormonal imbalances we suffer with. We tend to have elevated insulin levels due to insulin resistance, a condition where the body fails to respond effectively to insulin. Insulin, besides regulating blood sugar, acts as an appetite stimulant. Consequently, elevated insulin levels can lead to weight gain, often occurring rapidly and seemingly inexplicably. High insulin levels may also result in low blood sugar, triggering intense cravings for carbohydrates. The body craves carbs as a physiological response to raise blood sugar levels to normal. Delaying meals and inadequate protein intake can exacerbate these cravings, intensifying the urge to overeat.
Emotional Toll of PCOS:
Apart from physiological factors, the emotional toll of PCOS plays a pivotal role in the development of eating disorders. Many women with PCOS have suffered with weight-related issues for most of their lives, fostering dissatisfaction with their bodies. PCOS symptoms, such as acne, hair loss, and excessive hair growth, often feel uncontrollable and negatively impact self-esteem and body image. In response to this emotional turmoil, many women with PCOS turn to food as a coping mechanism where they lose complete control.
Understanding Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is not merely excessive eating; it’s a recognized medical condition. It ranks as the most common eating disorder in the United States, surpassing both anorexia and bulimia combined.
BED, as per the American Psychiatric Association, is characterized by regularly consuming significantly more food than an average person would in a similar timeframe. Binge episodes occur at least weekly for three months, with individuals feeling a loss of control over their eating and experiencing post-binge guilt.
I personally suffered from many eating disorders over my PCOS journey. I went through periods of bulimia, making myself sick after family roasts or nights out as I just wanted to be skinny like my other friends.
I then hit the restrict, binge cycle which I was stuck in for years – restricting literally every food group for the week, to then hit the weekend and dive deep into the ‘fuck it’ mode – drinking and eating everything in site, ordering several deliveroo orders and just chucking it all down my throat – sometimes to the point where I was sick.
I felt completely lost and out of sync with my body. My face was red and puffy from inflammation and the pressure from being sick so much, my energy was on the floor, my sleep was disturbed and I generally hated myself. But I felt so stuck and almost slightly addicted to the cycle which I could never understand why.
After years I knew I couldn’t go on much more and had to start healing my relationship with food and myself.
My advice right now if you are still stuck in the cycle – do not keep it to yourself any longer and confide in someone close to you. You can’t live in fear or shame for the rest of your life, and I promise you, a true friend will listen, understand and be there for you.
Or I will listen, because I do care and I can totally relate. And I am here to tell you – you can end the cycle, heal and live a balanced, happy life! Book a call with me here and let me help.
Strategies to Combat Binge Eating
For individuals struggling with binge eating, there is hope for recovery. Implementing certain strategies can help regain control over eating habits:
Regular Meal Times:
Establishing regular eating intervals of 3-5 hours, consisting of three main meals and 2-3 snacks, can help stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels throughout the day. Including protein and healthy fats in each meal and snack can enhance satiety and prevent rapid blood sugar fluctuations. Build each meal around protein and I promise you’ll feel fuller for longer and will stop the cravings!
Some women with PCOS may find that incorporating carbohydrates into their meals and snacks improves their well-being. Opt for unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrate sources such as quinoa, slow-cooked oats (GF), sweet potato, or buckwheat. These choices promote stable insulin and blood sugar levels while aiding in appetite control.
Managing Carb Cravings:
For those battling intense cravings for sweets and carb-rich foods, regular eating and balanced meals can be beneficial. Pairing your carbs with protein and fats can also reduce the insulin spikes. Additionally, some individuals have found relief from cravings by using insulin-sensitizing supplements like Ovasitol. You can get a discount with the code PCOSPARTY here with the number one supplement I only use
Create a Coping Mechanism List:
Develop a list of alternative activities to engage in when the urge to binge arises due to emotional triggers. These activities can include reading, taking a bath, reaching out to a friend or family member, watching a movie, practicing good oral hygiene, taking a leisurely stroll, journaling, or engaging in creative pursuits like knitting or coloring.
Healing Your Relationship with Food
If you’re dealing with PCOS and struggling with disordered eating patterns, it’s essential to realize that change is possible. Here are some steps to foster a healthier relationship with food:
Ditch the Diet Mentality:
Abandon restrictive diets and unfollow social media pages promoting weight loss for PCOS. Instead, focus on sustainable lifestyle changes and build habits that enhance overall health and fertility. This includes prioritizing nutrition, incorporating regular exercise, managing stress, and improving sleep quality.
Practice Mindful Eating:
Begin your journey towards a healthier relationship with food by becoming a more mindful eater. Maintain a journal to monitor eating habits, paying attention to instances of eating when not hungry or overeating beyond satiety. Try to identify any emotional triggers associated with these behaviors.
In conclusion, understanding the link between PCOS and eating disorders is crucial for effective management and support. By addressing the physiological and emotional factors contributing to disordered eating patterns, you can take steps toward healing your relationship with food and improving your overall well-being!
It isn’t an overnight fix, but it can be done and I promise – it’s worth it!
I would be delighted to assist you in restoring your connection with food and gaining lasting control over PCOS
Grateful to serve you <3
Love as ever,
PS If you found this interesting, please let me know and share it on socials! Let’s raise the bar in educating females about their health.