PCOS Awareness Month: Navigating Nutrition

Here at Love Luna HQ we draw our attention this September to PCOS Awareness Month.

PCOS | Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

For those who aren't familiar, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS is a complex hormonal condition. PCOS can manifest in a variety of ways, most commonly through irregular cycles, facial and body hair growth or loss, weight gain, and infertility.

Studies show that PCOS affects 1 in 10 people.

Whilst we are unsure what causes PCOS, experts believe its linked to genetics as well as high levels of androgens and insulin. Androgens are often referred to as “male dominating hormones” and whilst women also produce these hormones, those with PCOS create a higher level than normal. Which is believed to cause disturbances with menstrual cycles, excess hair growth and acne.

Insulin is a hormone that works to change the food you consume into energy. Those with PCOS are often insulin resistant which causes insulin blood levels to rise, which can make it incredibly difficult to lose or maintain a healthy weight.

With all of this in mind, we decided it would be great to sit down with someone who understands the ins and outs of PCOS and its symptoms. This month, we spoke with The PCOS Nutritionist Shahzeen Baig.

We discussed all things PCOS: from how to be diagnosed, presenting symptoms, all the way through to her success story helping a Dr and client of hers fall pregnant with twins after years of trying!

As always, grab a tea, kick back and relax and let’s chat PCOS.


Luna: Hi Shahzeen, we are so excited to be chatting with you today! To start can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is you do as a PCOS Nutritionist?

Shahzeen: Basically, I help those with PCOS improve their symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes, depending on what symptoms they have. I work primarily with online programs that focus on specific areas alongside offering 1:1 coaching depending on what the patient needs.

Luna: What made you gravitate towards working in the PCOS field? How does your practice differ to that of a generalise nutritionist?

Shahzeen: It all came from my personal experiences with PCOS. I had a really bad experience with PCOS as a teenager and the medical treatment I was offered was very minimal. I initially wanted to focus on a research pathway, studying medical science, but after working to improve my own symptoms I chose to complete my Masters Degree in Nutritional Science. Which lead me to realise there was a huge online community of people with PCOS that didn‘t have access to adequate help and were in a similar position as me. It‘s pretty standard for most nutritionists now to specialise in one specific area, hence why I decided to focus on PCOS.

Luna: We‘re so sorry to hear of your experience suffering with PCOS. It seems to be pretty common within the community that the condition is often overlooked or misdiagnosed.

Shahzeen: I completely agree, women's health in general is being dismissed even in a country like Australia. That’s why moments like this are so important to offer education to those who are suffering from conditions like PCOS because the information and research is just no as accessible as it should be.

Luna: Absolutely, its interesting, we’ve spoken to a couple of other industry professionals here at The Monthly and there seems to be a reoccurring theme that like yourself they suffer with a condition like PCOS and received inadequate medical treatment. Focusing on the side effects of PCOS, one of the most discussed is the hormonal weight gain, why is it that diet and nutrition is so important when it comes to managing PCOS?

Shahzeen: Quite often when someone is diagnosed with PCOS they are often prescribed the contraceptive pill, patients are told to lose weight, to reduce carb intake, but more often than not they fail to educate patients on how to go about this. Diet and lifestyle changes help patients understand that you can improve your symptoms naturally. Recommended dietary changes are specific to each individual, but the foundation of how to best combat PCOS symptoms comes down to managing blood sugar levels and minimising insulin resistance.

Luna: Absolutely, its so common with conditions like PCOS that patients are offered a blanket solution like the contraceptive pill but aren't given the opportunity to understand the condition itself. In your experience, how have you seen PCOS symptoms change or reduce in your patients after accessing nutritional and dietary guidance?

Shahzeen: There have been big differences. Most woman typically focus on the weight gain aspect of PCOS. To combat this I‘ve seen patients who are skipping meals to reduce food intake, thinking this will help, but they are not educated on how to actually monitor their food intake in a way that is beneficial for PCOS. A lot of people are not educated on how to actually monitor their food intake in a way that is beneficial for PCOS. Once a patient comes to me I help them improve their protein intake and balance their blood sugar levels, which makes a huge difference. Its not about skipping meals, but actually fuelling your body with the right nutrition to help reduce symptoms. By doing this I‘ve seen a huge improvement in patients energy levels, the return of regular cycles. One patient who came to me had been struggling to conceive for years on end, and after working with me she was successful in conceiving and went on to have two beautiful twins. For those who struggle with PCOS the correct diet and nutrition can be a huge help when combatting PCOS.

Luna: That’s incredible, what an amazing outcome for that one patient!
For our Luna Lovers that suffer from PCOS, are there any foods you would recommend to help combat PCOS symptoms?

Shahzeen: The specific dietary changes I would focus on would be to manage your blood sugar levels throughout the day. To do this you must ensure you are getting at least 20-30 grams of protein per meal. Alongside that adding in gut friendly foods that are high in probiotics as well as anti-inflammatory foods. If you can focus around these three pillars you will be on your way to improving your symptoms.

Luna: It’s so complex because with weight relating symptoms and the on going struggle for those with PCOS to lose weight, patients often end up with a really fragile relationship with food. Do you have any advice for someone struggling PCOS who is trying to rebuild that relationship with their body and with food?

Shahzeen: My first approach would be to not focus on weight loss. Even when patients are successful with weight loss, they are still left with the other symptoms of PCOS like hair loss. The way we are taught to lose weight can actually cause more damage to someone with PCOS as it can increase inflammation in the body. If you are healing your relationship with food, my advice would be to focus on one simple thing at the time. Something that is easy to follow. If that‘s just breakfast, do that. Instead of trying to overhaul everything at once, just focus on your protein intake for one meal, manage that for a month and then move onto the next meal which could be lunch. By taking small steps it allows the body and the mind time to adjust.

Luna: One step at a time. That’s great advice. Shahzeen, when it comes to those who perhaps think they may be suffering from PCOS, what are the signs and symptoms you’re looking for that help determine whether that is the case?

Shahzeen: Women generally come to me post diagnosis. But signs and symptoms can really vary case by case. Some suffer with irregular cycles, others excess hair loss or growth, some have really heavy periods. A big misunderstanding with PCOS is that you don’t have to have cysts on your ovaries to be diagnosed. Often times clients have never experienced cysts, but still show other symptoms that are associated with the condition. Its important to keep in mind that PCOS is presenting so differently in everyone, some may only experience one or two symptoms, whilst for others it can manifest completely differently.

Luna: For sure, its so important to keep in mind just how little the medical industry actually understands about this condition, we really are learning as we go. Shahzeen what is the process like to be diagnosed with PCOS?

Shahzeen: Currently, we use the Rotterdam criteria. This looks at cycle length, high levels of male androgens or symptoms of these hormones such as acne, excessive hair growth and whether the patient suffers from ovarian cysts. You only need display 2 of the 3 symptomatic categories to be diagnosed. This however is currently being reviewed to include the other symptoms we know to be associated with PCOS. for those looking to be diagnosed, you can do so with your General Practitioner, you will be asked to do an ultrasound to check for any presenting cysts and a blood test to look at your blood sugar levels and male androgen levels.

Luna: That‘s great thank you Shahzeen! Our last question is for our Luna Lovers at home, do you have any tips or tricks for those suffering with PCOS?

Shahzeen: Firstly, I would say instead of trying to find remedies online, do your research and don‘t rely on social media to give you advice. My biggest tip would be to try proven supplements like inositol to improve symptoms. Secondly would be to look at dietary changes, increasing protein intake and adding in anti-inflammatory nutrients. Focus on what kind of exercise you enjoy doing, whatever it is that you enjoy do it and get moving in the simplest way.

Luna: Thank you so much Shahzeen, its been such a pleasure talking with you. We truly appreciate the opportunity to openly discuss PCOS with you.

Shahzeen: Thank you so much its been so nice chatting with you!


For those suffering with PCOS that want to explore nutritional based care you can book in with Shahzeen via Instagram @the.pcos.nutritionist or alternatively you can book in with Shahzeen here.

Disclaimer: We are not doctors. The information in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. If you or someone you know is suffering with PCOS we urge you to consult your health care professional.

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