PCOS Dietitians and Nutritionists
Have you recently been diagnosed with PCOS but don’t know where to turn? Have you been getting mixed messages from the internet, social media and your healthcare providers?
At Courage to Nourish, we often work with individuals who have PCOS. We understand how confusing it can be to navigate through this diagnosis. Especially when there is a lot of misinformation and some of that information is steeped in diet culture. We also understand how long it might have taken you to wind up here – that you were likely misdiagnosed, invalidated or dismissed. Courage to Nourish is here to listen and support you while navigating this journey. We not only support clients in managing PCOS, but we often work with individuals who also struggle with disordered eating. Our goal is to help you improve your relationship with food while navigating the PCOS diagnosis.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or better known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that affects 1 in 10 cis-women (according to data). Symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person, but there are diagnostic criteria an individual needs to meet in order to receive a concrete diagnosis. These criteria are called the Rotterdam Criteria and include: androgen (male sex hormones) excess, ovulatory dysfunction (disruption of periods and ovulation), and cysts on the ovaries. An individual will need to meet 2 out of the 3 criteria to be diagnosed. So, interestingly enough, a person does not have to have cysts on their ovaries to be diagnosed with PCOS, despite its name.
PCOS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning other diagnoses need to be ruled out first by a medical provider before a diagnosis of PCOS can be made. Some of these other diagnoses that can have similar symptoms and presentations include thyroid dysfunction, adrenal diseases, androgen-secreting tumors, Cushing’s disease, etc.). For this reason, PCOS diagnosis can oftentimes take a while and include multiple tests and visits with one’s provider.
There is no cure for PCOS, however the main goal of treatment involves symptom management. Some symptoms that individuals may experience include but are not limited to: acne, excess hair growth on the face and body, fatigue, male pattern balding or hair thinning, weight gain, darkened skin patches (also called Acanthosis Nigricans), irregular periods or no periods at all, and difficulty w/ fertility. Individuals can live fulfilling lives with PCOS and the Courage to Nourish RDs have specialized training in supporting individuals with PCOS to find a better relationship with food and body.
Statistics show that those with PCOS are at a higher risk for developing or being diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression. Mental health struggles of any kind can exacerbate PCOS symptoms. For this reason, it is highly recommended that an individual be working with a treatment team that focuses on not just their physical health but their mental health as well.
How We Help Treat PCOS
At Courage to Nourish, our dietitians work one on one with our clients and their treatment team to improve PCOS and disordered thoughts, urges and behaviors. We value trusting and compassionate relationships between our dietitians and clients. We value safety and a non-judgmental space so our clients are able to process their relationship with food and body in a way that is met with understanding and empathy. Not only do we work with you or your loved one in individual sessions, but we also collaborate with various members of the treatment team. We provide text and email support and keep our caseloads small. This can assure you are getting the highest quality of care.
A huge part of our role when working with PCOS is to discuss nutrition facts vs. nutrition myths. For example, many people are told they should eliminate carbohydrates if they have PCOS. This couldn’t be further from the truth! We support our clients in incorporating all macronutrients, including carbs, so they are satisfied and so they enjoy their food intake. Additionally, we monitor lab work, depending on symptoms our clients may be experiencing (fertility, elevated lipids, elevated blood sugar, insulin resistance, etc.) as well as review supplements that might be beneficial for symptoms. Of course, we’ll work closely with their doctors. When working with PCOS, we want to make sure the behavior changes feel sustainable and that they align with our clients’ values. Last, we will also address any body image concerns with our clients. People with PCOS come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s important to address how our body image plays a role in eating behaviors We will work to help you identify disordered eating patterns that may be causing more harm than good to your body, and support you in making peace with food, especially those that are often demonized in PCOS, like carbohydrates.
Typical Clients We Work With
FAQs About PCOS
How do I know if I have PCOS?
How long does it take to treat PCOS?
Will I need to follow a meal plan?
How can I find support for PCOS?
Courage to Nourish is happy to help. Contact us for more information about working with us. We provide both virtual and in person services. If for some reason we are unable to support you, we would be glad to refer you to other resources. You can also read our blog and resources page for more ideas and support on eating disorder recovery.
Have more questions?
About Courage to Nourish
Courage to Nourish is a group of eating disorder specialized dietitians. We have in person locations in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland, and College Park, Maryland. We offer virtual services across the state of Maryland. Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. We offer individual nutrition therapy. As well as support groups. We would love to guide you in building a better relationship with food.
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