Changing your diet is a great way to manage both your PCOS and hypothyroidism symptoms. Both conditions respond well to similar diets.

A spinach omelette, which is a healthy breakfast for those with POCS and hypothyroidism.Share on Pinterest
Darren Muir/Stocksy United

Hormones are essential to human health, regulating growth, metabolism, mood, and more. But when our bodies produce too little or too many of certain hormones, we can develop conditions and disorders that negatively affect our health.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism are two conditions characterized by different hormonal imbalances that can occur together. When it comes to treating these conditions, there are certain foods that are beneficial — or not so beneficial — for both.

Below, we share everything you need to know about diets for PCOS and hypothyroidism, including which foods to avoid and which you may want to add to your plate instead.

PCOS is a condition that can develop when there’s an imbalance in reproductive hormones, like androgens and estrogens. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include menstrual irregularities, ovarian cysts, and excess hair growth, among others.

Hypothyroidism develops when the thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating functions like energy, metabolism, and mood, to name a few.

Research shows a strong association between PCOS and subclinical hypothyroidism, an early stage of hypothyroidism. In fact, anywhere from 10–25% of people with PCOS have subclinical hypothyroidism.

Treatment for both conditions typically involves medications and lifestyle changes. But dietary changes can also help people with these conditions manage their symptoms.

Foods to avoid with PCOS

One of the most common features of PCOS is a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance develops when your cells don’t respond to insulin, which causes high levels of insulin and glucose to circulate in the blood.

Because of this, the recommended dietary approach for PCOS involves eating less refined carbohydrates and more foods that help keep blood sugar levels stable. People with PCOS also benefit from limiting foods that contribute to inflammation.

Some of the foods to avoid that can potentially make PCOS symptoms worse include:

  • white bread
  • white rice
  • bagels, muffins, and breakfast pastries
  • sugary cereals
  • sodas and sports drinks
  • cakes and cookies
  • sugary and processed snacks
  • deep fried foods
  • red meat
  • processed meats

Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms like constipation, weight gain, decreased metabolism, and more. Research also suggests that people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a leading cause of hypothyroidism, have higher levels of inflammation.

While there aren’t many foods that are off-limits to people with hypothyroidism, certain dietary changes can still help support overall health. One change that can be beneficial is limiting processed and inflammatory foods, like those mentioned above, for PCOS.

People with hypothyroidism should also avoid eating too many goitrogenic foods. Goitrogenic foods are foods that contain goitrogens, or compounds that can interfere with thyroid function, especially in high amounts. Broccoli, peanuts, and soy are examples of these foods.

Note that it’s OK to eat goitrogenic foods in moderation, and cooking decreases goitrogenic activity in foods.

If you live with PCOS and hypothyroidism, even starting with a few small dietary changes can make a difference in your symptoms.

Foods containing lean protein, healthy fats, fiber, and anti-inflammatory compounds can help combat insulin resistance and inflammation in PCOS. Almost all of these foods can also benefit people with hypothyroidism.

So, here are a few breakfast ideas to add to your weekly meal plan if you live with PCOS and hypothyroidism.

Fiesta Egg Omelet

Omelets are an easy breakfast recipe with plenty of protein, and adding nutrient-rich vegetables and heart-healthy fats can help keep you full and satisfied.

  • eggs
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • green peppers

Berry and Nut Parfait

Yogurt parfaits are a great breakfast idea to take on the go, and adding fresh berries and heart-healthy nuts can offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

  • low fat Greek yogurt
  • fresh berries
  • chopped almonds
  • chopped walnuts

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

Sweet potatoes and kale are both high in fiber and antioxidants, and choosing turkey sausage can help cut back on the high saturated fats that other breakfast meats usually contain. If you need a lower sodium version, you can use ground turkey and then add your favorite spices.

  • eggs
  • sweet potatoes
  • ground turkey sausage
  • chopped kale
  • green peppers

Everyone can benefit from eating a balanced diet, but for people with PCOS and hypothyroidism, eating more nutrient-rich foods can help manage symptoms in the long run.

If you’re looking for ways to get more of these foods on your plate, here are some lunch and dinner ideas you can try:

  • spinach salad with roasted salmon
  • kale salad with berries, nuts, and chicken
  • quinoa bowls with roasted vegetables
  • brown rice bowls with ground turkey
  • grilled chicken and summer vegetables
  • chicken and kale soup with wild rice

By the way, if you already have a list of your favorite proteins, grains, and vegetables, you can also search for recipes using those ingredients for more ideas.

PCOS and hypothyroidism can both cause weight gain, and it’s not uncommon for people with these conditions to find that losing weight can be hard. However, even though weight loss can be difficult, it’s not impossible — medication and lifestyle changes can help.

If you have PCOS or hypothyroidism and find it difficult to lose weight, consider talking with your doctor. By exploring different treatment options and working closely with a nutrition specialist, you can find the approach that works best for you.

Research has shown that there’s a relationship between PCOS and hypothyroidism — and a significant percentage of people with PCOS also have hypothyroidism.

Medication can help manage both conditions, but dietary changes are another step you can take to help manage your symptoms.

Talk with your doctor about the best diet for you.