In honor of National Nutrition Month, EALM reviews: “PCOS: The Dietitian’s Guide“
Specializing in both eating disorders and endocrine disorders, I often encounter women with an ambiguous diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Some of these clients have struggled with weight issues for years and doctors have mentioned PCOS, but they do not have an official or clear diagnosis. When looking for resources to help these clients, I came across Angela Grassi’s The PCOS- Workbook and PCOS- The Dietitian’s Guide. Whether you are a woman with a potential diagnosis of PCOS or a dietitian looking to brush up on the condition, these books are much needed additions to your bookshelf.
Having been diagnosed with PCOS herself, Angela Grassi understands just how difficult it is to receive the correct diagnosis, as well as the complexities of living with the syndrome. Her first-hand experiences and knowledge as a registered dietitian help to offer a mind, body, and soul perspective to her readers.
It is estimated that PCOS affects between 6-10% of women worldwide, but getting diagnosed may be difficult. Many more women may be living without a diagnosis. A diagnosis typically requires two of the following criteria: Irregular or absent menstrual cycles, clinical or biochemical signs of increased androgen production, and polycystic ovaries (Rotterdam, 2003). Women may struggle for years before these symptoms are recognized. As dietitians, a client may present with weight struggles, disordered eating, or glucose abnormalities even before she knows she has PCOS.
What most women don’t know is that a lot of the symptoms of PCOS, such as hunger and weight gain are a result of their condition. For example, did you know “women with PCOS have pre- and post-meal ghrelin impairments” (Page 31)? Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. Complications of PCOS, such as infertility, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, can be reduced with lifestyle changes, making nutrition critical to the treatment of PCOS. However, “despite the benefits of weight loss, losing weight and maintaining weight loss is difficult in the general population and especially for women with PCOS (Page 31).”
Grassi reviews common diet trends and offers information on supplements that may be useful in this population. Did you know 1 tsp (3g) of cinnamon has been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose and improve long-term glycemic control (Page 52)? Pick up a copy of Grassi’s book to find more information about supplements that may help with the insulin resistance commonly found in women with PCOS.
The book goes on to describe challenges women may face throughout their lifetime. It also touches on the psychological aspects of PCOS, including eating disorders. Because individuals with PCOS are at a higher risk for disordered eating and body image disturbances, dietitians must be aware of the signs and symptoms of disordered eating. Grassi offers dietitians and professionals various ways to screen for eating disturbances and tips for working with these clients.
This book summarizes current research, making it a great tool for any one looking to learn more about PCOS. It provides context to the disorder, offers practical advice, and reviews evidenced-based nutrition therapy in order to address treatment for the “entire” person. This particular book is intended for dietitians and health care professionals, but Grassi also offers a workbook for women with PCOS.
||For more information on both Angela Grassi and her books click here.