My relationship with food hasn’t always been straight forward. Growing up my mum cooked health meals, but when I moved out and became in charge of my own diet that changed. Sometimes I’d eat well, but other times I’d eat an entire Pizza Hut pizza to myself or binge on unhealthy foods. I’d have ‘punishment lunches’ of dry crackers if I felt I’d overindulged. I could happily have a fruit salad for lunch or 2 chocolate bars. I have never dieted and don’t believe in diet culture, but I could have done with looking at what I ate a little more closely.
Being diagnosed with PCOS wasn’t exactly a shock because of the irregular periods that plagued my life, but learning about some of the health issues it can cause has been. Reading things like I have a higher chance of developing cancer or diabetes is scary, so I want to make changes to look after myself better.
The problem is that there is so much information out there about what to do and not all of it goes hand in hand. If anything, some things are contradictory. Some pages say to go completely gluten and dairy free, others say to just cut down or you will develop intolerances which can cause other illnesses. Some nutritionists advise people to cut out carbohydrates, others say that carbs are vital for managing PCOS. I started going gluten and dairy free, then my doctor told me not to do that.
Like with all people who turn to Google to learn how to manage a condition, I became overwhelmed with information. I struggled to find foods I was ‘allowed’ to eat and felt guilty if I ordered the only vegetarian option on a menu if it happened to have cheese in.
My relationship with food was becoming consuming and it got to a point where I was left wondering ‘what can I eat?’
Something had to give. The guilt and worry was getting to be too much. I stepped away from Instagram and Google and listened to my body instead.
Now I’m at a point where I have limited my dairy intake. I’ve cut down on sweet treats and drink herbal teas full of hormone balancing ingredients. I’ve done some of the steps that some PCOS nutritionists say and some that others say. I’m figuring it out day by day, but I’m also enjoying life.
The fact of the matter is that life is to be lived and whether or not you eat the doughnut doesn’t really matter. You can punish yourself for consuming the calories, miss out on it then regret it later or you can skip it and be happy with your choice, either way it doesn’t matter – my point is that if we worry about the calories then we miss seeing the bigger picture.
I try to live my life the best I can and that includes the food I eat. For me, that doesn’t mean calorie counting, avoiding food and missing out on the thing I want to eat for the sake of having a salad (unless a salad is the thing I want, which admittedly it rarely is). It’s cheesy, but life is for living. Part of that is enjoying what you put into your body and making sure you fuel yourself with the things you want and need. Sydney’s best burger? Let me be the judge of that. A hot day? I’ll take ice cream and a slice of watermelon, thanks.
This mindset shift has improved the way that I look at food in general. Food is not longer something to binge on or restrict for my PCOS now. Where there were once punishment lunches, now there’s just lunch. Where I once starved myself and ate one meal a day, I now eat regularly. Food is an enhancement of my life, one to enjoy and one that should make me happy.