Grocery Shopping for a Healthy PCOS Diet
What if there was something so powerful that it could transform your health, nourish your body, and even help you manage PCOS?
Well, it exists – right in your local grocery store. It’s food. A healthy, balanced diet plays an integral role in PCOS management. So, use these five grocery shopping tips to help you fill your cart with healthy, wholesome options to create a well-balanced PCOS diet.
1. Start with a plan.
Taking some time to meal plan before you gather your reusable grocery bags and trek to the grocery store can make your shopping trip (and your entire week) a whole lot easier. Meal planning may sound daunting, but you’ll be a pro in no time with these tips.
- Choose recipes with overlapping ingredients. This helps reduce food waste and maximize your grocery budget.
- Repeat your recipes. It’s okay to have the same thing for breakfast or lunch every day for a week (or longer!) if that’s what works best for you.
- Plan for leftovers. If you don’t want to cook every night, make a few extra servings so you have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Not a fan of leftovers? That’s okay. Give your leftovers new life by repurposing them into another dish. For example, if you made grilled chicken and asparagus for dinner one night, toss the extra chicken and vegetables into pasta the next evening.
- Focus on the familiar. New recipes are an exciting addition to your meal plan, but make sure you include a few recipes that are familiar and easy for you to prepare to cut down on weeknight dinner chaos.
- Take inventory. Check out your pantry and refrigerator before you make your grocery list so you don’t end up purchasing ingredients you already have.
2. Shop the perimeter.
There’s no universal grocery store layout. You won’t always find pasta in aisle 3 or beans in aisle 12 (but wouldn’t that be nice?). Each grocery store is organized a little differently. But still, they all tend to have one thing in common.
Whole and minimally processed foods, like fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean meat, poultry, and fish, line the perimeter of the store. Here’s why you should emphasize these options.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that keep your body running efficiently. They’re also full of fiber, which helps support gut health, a healthy weight, healthy cholesterol levels, and even healthy blood sugar levels.
Lean Meat, Poultry, and Fish
Lean meat, poultry, and fish are excellent sources of protein. Protein helps you feel full and satisfied at a meal – but it has some pretty big responsibilities within your body. Proteins are like building blocks – they work in every cell of your body to maintain healthy muscles and tissues. Plus, protein helps support immune function, too.
Dairy gets a bad rap in the PCOS community. But, unless you don’t tolerate dairy well or simply don’t enjoy dairy foods, there’s no solid, evidence-based reason to completely avoid dairy. It’s an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. But research does suggest that full-fat dairy may benefit fertility more than low-fat or nonfat dairy products. So, if you include dairy in your diet, consider skipping the low-fat versions and opting for 1-2 servings of full-fat cheese, yogurt, or milk instead.
If you don’t include dairy, be sure to include other calcium-rich foods in your diet to support bone health.
Nuts and Seeds
Many grocery stores have a bulk foods section where you’ll find a variety of nuts and seeds. The best part? You don’t have to purchase a certain amount – you can buy only what you need. Nuts and seeds are a great way to add healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber to your diet, and they’re a crunchy addition to salads, oatmeal, and more.
What about the middle aisles?
Although you should aim to fill most of your cart with foods from the perimeter of the store, don’t forget about the goodies in the middle aisles. This is where you’ll often find whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta), plant-based proteins like beans and lentils, and frozen and canned fruits and vegetables – all staples in a healthy, balanced PCOS diet.
Of course, you’ll also find an abundance of processed foods in the middle section, too – cookies, candy, chips, and other sweets and snacks. While you don’t have to completely avoid these foods, they’re typically higher in added sugar and saturated fat, so make sure you enjoy them mindfully.
3. Read the Nutrition Facts label.
While you won’t find a Nutrition Facts label on fresh produce or meat, they’re required on all packaged foods made in the U.S. and imported from other countries. The Nutrition Facts label provides all the information you need to make healthy, informed decisions about your food, and it’s also a great tool to help you compare the nutritional value of different products.
Need a refresher on how to read the Nutrition Facts label? Check out this blog: “How to Read a Food Label.”
4. Try not to shop when you’re hungry.
You’ve probably heard this tip before. When your body is well-nourished, you’re better able to focus on making healthy decisions to set you up for a week of success. But when your stomach is rumbling, it’s so much more difficult – everything looks good.
Think about having a snack before you stroll through the grocery store to help you stick to your grocery list. But remember, there’s nothing wrong with having a few treats on your list. All foods can fit in a healthy, balanced diet. Just be sure you focus on filling your plate with foods that nourish your body most of the time.
5. Utilize curbside pickup.
The grocery store is overwhelming for many. It’s crowded and hectic, and sometimes you find yourself wishing you were literally anywhere else. If this sounds like you, curbside pickup is your best friend. You can grocery shop from the comfort of your couch and sit in your car while a kind grocery store employee delivers your grocery bag right to your trunk. Technology is amazing.
A healthy PCOS diet starts at the grocery store. It’s where you can stock up on foods that help you create nourishing meals, fuel your body, and help you manage your PCOS. With these tips, you’re ready to walk into the grocery store with confidence – and a well-planned grocery list.