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PCOS Xmas Survival Guide

December 12, 2017

The season for being jolly may be upon us, but for anyone with PCOS negotiating the indulgences of the festive period can be a minefield. All the extra commitments and seemingly endless supply of treats and post-work bubbles can play havoc with our hormone balance. Throw in shorter days, stressful gift buying trips, Christmas parties and entertaining the relatives and it’s easy to see why even the best health habits tend to falter at this time of year.
So how do you survive the rigours of this month without the painful consequences of falling off the proverbial wagon? The good news is that with a bit of forward planning it is possible to enjoy the festive traditions and look after your body, without feeling like a social pariah. Below are our top tips for getting the best out of this month while keeping your hormones happy:

Plan ahead
Eating well may seem like a challenge at this time of year with so many tempting treats on offer. Planning ahead can make life a lot easier however. Keep healthy snacks handy – making sensible choices is very difficult when you are starving hungry! Carry a packet of unroasted nuts in your bag for emergencies, or aim to have a snack before you leave the house. Hummus with some carrot or sweet pepper sticks or a boiled egg with half an avocado are nourishing go-to snacks.

Always eat breakfast
It may be tempting to think about skipping breakfast, especially if you feel you have over-indulged the night before or have a big dinner planned that evening. However skipping breakfast sends your blood sugar on a roller coaster which makes those sweet treats even harder to resist later on. Eating a protein-rich breakfast helps to regulate your blood sugar and balance your hormones. Try an omelette with sautéed spinach, peppers and tomatoes, or smoked salmon with poached eggs, avocado and pumpkin seeds. If you are in a rush toasted millet or buckwheat bread with almond butter and a handful of berries works well too.

Stay hydrated
Colder weather, arid central heating and one too many glasses of wine can all increase our hydration requirements at this time of year. Sip on still (and ideally filtered) water throughout the day to keep hydrated. A good way to make sure you are drinking enough is to check your urine, which should be clear or the colour of pale straw – any darker and you need to up your water intake. It is easy to confuse thirst with hunger, especially when you are tired, so before heading out for the evening drink a large glass of water to avoid any mixed messages.

Choose your tipple
Alcohol is often an inevitable part of the festive season, however it pays to be savvy in your choices. It is worth remembering alcohol is a form of sugar which can lead to insulin spikes and a hormone roller coaster that plays havoc with PCOS symptoms. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach by eating a protein-rich meal or snack to help keep blood sugar balanced and match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Stay clear of sugary mixers and focus on quality rather than quantity. It is better to have a glass or two of a tipple you genuinely enjoy, rather than knocking back drinks mindlessly. Chose the best you can afford and really savour it if you are going to indulge.

Watch your stress levels
Easier said than done perhaps, but keeping your stress levels in check is particularly important when you have PCOS. Overworked adrenals can cause the level of androgen hormones to rise, potentially
worsening symptoms such as acne, oily skin, mood swings, anxiety and depression. Androgen excess can also make it harder to lose excess weight, which is especially bad news at this time of year. Try incorporating mindfulness practice, yoga, walking or any other activity you find relaxing into each day to soothe your adrenals. You don’t have to devote hours to this – just 15-20 minutes every day can have a positive effect. If you only have five minutes that’s fine too. Do what you can and remember little and often is the key.

Eat your vegetables
The phytoestrogens in plant foods like chickpeas, flaxseeds, oats, lentils, alfalfa and apples can help keep androgen hormones in balance. While these may not be party foods (!) it is a good idea to base your daily diet around these and other nutrient-rich plant foods to support you during those times when you are not able to make such healthy choices. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and the humble Brussel sprout are nutrient powerhouses and are easy to find at this time of year. Swap traditional roast potatoes for sweet potatoes which are rich in important vitamins. Try sprinkling with cinnamon before cooking for a sweet hit that actually helps to balance blood sugar.

Keep your gut happy
Looking after the health of your gut is particularly important if you have PCOS. Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and traditional red cabbage can make a great addition to the leftover turkey and help feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Swapping ice cream for natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt can also give the friendly bacteria a boost and cut the sugar content.

Get your beauty sleep
Ensuring you get enough sleep helps to reduce insulin resistance – great news for women with PCOS. Maintaining a regular sleep cycle can be tough at this time of year, but aiming for eight hours a night can be vital for maintaining a healthy hormone balance. Limit smartphone and TV use at least an hour before bed to reduce your exposure to the blue light that is so disruptive to sleep. Ear plugs and eye masks can also be helpful if you have a noisy household!

Be kind to yourself
Perhaps most importantly, the best way of staying on track with your health goals over the festive season is to look after yourself. This means treating yourself with kindness and not beating yourself up if you deviate from your healthy eating plans. If you indulge one day, savour the moment then endeavour to start the next day afresh. Rather than putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or feeling guilty, make the choices that are best for you. Spend time with loved ones and people that make you smile, and enjoy the festivities! Your hormones will thank you for it in the long run.

Author: Katie Edwards

Pay day for weightloss

June 19, 2014

I am sure that many of you will have seen the recent debate about a scheme that suggests that companies pay an extra bonus to encourage overweight staff to shed the pounds.

Obesity and all the related issues connected with expanding waistlines is a serious problem in companies.  Studies show that more time is taken off work by employees who are obese, is just the tip of the iceberg of other related health problems. The direct health cost in terms of diabetes, heart problems, cancer and other degenerative disease is a big issue facing companies today. Whilst we can shift the responsibility back to the individual, it can fast become the problem of the employer.  More serious “death in service” is of course tragic, but more “minor”problems such as energy problems (staff tiredness), mood swings, digestive issues, low self esteem, knee and back problems, blood sugar issues (including Factor X, insulin resistance etc)  can all effect the performance of the individual but start to have an impact on company morale and performance.  Long hours, more demands, make it difficult for employees to prepare and cook healthier food and find a balance in their lives, despite the lip service to ” Life/work balance” as if this thing called “life” is different to this thing called “work”.  Therefore if staff are overweight, it does become a mutual responsibility between individual and employer.

The problem with such a pay as you shed scheme is that individuals who are overweight are made to feel it is their fault by implication.  In my clinical career, I have observed an obsession with weight loss but its almost like someone stuck in quick sand, the more someone struggles to lose weight the more they seem to be suck in the mire.  This is because so few people understand the basic principals of eating let alone weight loss.  Most weight loss schemes are based on calorie reduction point counting principles, but this ignores the fact that some pretty horrible, unhealthy (and metabolically “damaging”) foods can be very low calorie.

The individual gets stuck in a game they can’t win (because they don’t know the basic rules) self esteem, and even mental illness (depression) could be the result.

On a low calorie scheme you will lose the weight, (at first) but as soon as you start eating “normally” back go on the pounds, as anyone will know who has ever tried to lose weight this way.

The actual answer is partly the food, what to eat and how but also partly the structure of people’s lives and how they are living  it.  How to eat, and finding a structure, and how to implement that structure.  Making the right choices, not because you have to but because you want to, knowing that great choices lead to great energy (so not a healthy eating message which people rebel against) and then being able to have the time, energy, and enthusiasm to plan, shop, cook, exercise, i.e. the structure that is going to make it happen!   If companies could see that it isn’t about people being at the “coal face” being inefficient and tired, but with more productive hours where people are energised, and vibrant a lot can be achieved.

TIME is the gift that companies can give back not money. Do you agree?

What you should be eating to reduce cancer risk

April 3, 2014

Food as medicine is not a new concept and what we choose to eat really can have a significant impact on our health. Read on to find out what foods to eat to cut your cancer risk.

10 Foods To Give You Amazing Hair

March 19, 2014

Hayley was recently interviewed by MyDaily for her advice on 10 Foods To Give You Amazing Hair. Click on the link to read how your food can promote the growth of luscious, long tressess.

As women our hair often forms a large part of our feminine identity and contributes to our self esteem, sensuality and confidence. If your hair is lack-lustre then emphasising the foods on the list will be a great place to start. However if your hair is thining or falling out then there may be something more going on behind the scenes and further clinical investigations may be helpful in preventing further loss and encouraging regrowth and restoration of your hair.  If this is the case don’t delay! Get in touch with Hayley and halt hair loss today!

Chocolate and Hazlenut Mousse Recipe

March 5, 2014

This is a delicious, nutty chocolate mousse which tastes indulgent yet contains no sugar. The hazelnuts provide extra protein which helps to balance blood sugar, as well as providing valuable nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins. Make sure you use really good quality dark chocolate for this recipe. Please note that this mousse is not suitable for pregnant women as it contains raw eggs.



(Serves 2)

75g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

50g hazelnuts, ground

2 organic, free-range eggs, separated



Being by gently melting the chocolate. To do this, half fill a saucepan with water and let it simmer. Place the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl that fits into the rim of the saucepan without actually touching the water. Leave the chocolate to melt over the heat. Once it has melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Stir in the ground hazelnuts followed by the egg yolks (one at a time).

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Using a metal spoon to prevent air escaping from the beaten egg, take one spoonful and fold gently into the chocolate mixture. Gradually fold the rest of the egg white into the mixture, taking care not to lose the air.

Spoon the mousse into two ramekins or into a bowl and place in the fridge to set (this will take at least an hour).

Taken from ‘The Holford Low-GL Diet Cookbook’ by Patrick Holford

Chinese Broccoli Receipe

February 5, 2014

If you’re tired of the same old broccoli, then why not try spicing up your broccoli with this spicy tasty recipe inspired by the recent Chinese New Year celebrations?

Oyster sauce nicely complements the slightly bittersweet taste of Chinese broccoli (gai lan). Blanching turns Chinese broccoli a beautiful jade green, but you can use regular broccoli if it’s not available. Serves 3 to 4.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


·         10 ounces Chinese broccoli (gai lan)

·         1 teaspoon salt

·         1 teaspoon baking soda

·         1 slice ginger (about 1/2-inch thick)

·         Sauce:

·         3 tablespoons chicken broth or water

·         2 tablespoons oyster sauce

·         1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

·         1/2 teaspoon sugar


Wash the Chinese broccoli. Cut off the ends if not already trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 inches long).
In a large saucepan, add enough water to cover the broccoli. Add the salt, baking soda and ginger. Bring to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. Combine the chicken broth or water, oyster sauce or rice wine or dry sherry and sugar. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn the heat down and keep warm while blanching the broccoli.
Add the Chinese broccoli to the boiling water. Cook until the stalks are tender but crisp (3 – 4 minutes). Rinse in cold running water. Drain.
Pour the sauce over the broccoli. Serve immediately.


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