Women and teens with PCOS often feel isolated, even within their own family. Unless they’ve got a mother or sister who also has PCOS, they’re the only ones dealing with the embarrassing physical symptoms, and especially, struggling with developing a healthy and active lifestyle.
As parents, it’s your job to support your children and launch them into life as healthily as possible, with good life skills for staying healthy. Take the lead on healthy family activities, and your child will follow (and likewise, if you’re the one with PCOS, and worried that your daughter might have it, set the best example you can). Here’s how:
This is critical because of the more television your family watches, and the more time they spend glued to their phones, the less time they spend interacting and developing social skills. And, the less time they spend outside doing healthy activities. The later you watch television, the more likely you are to experience sleep disruption. That’s true for adults as well as children. Teens with PCOS especially need a solid eight to nine hours of sleep per night. Ban the electronics after 9:00 p.m.!
Lower Vitamin D levels contribute to depression and sleep disruptions. Anyone with PCOS is likely to have sub-par Vitamin D levels. The easiest way to combat this is by getting outside for 20 – 30 minutes a day. Even better: engage in a family activity, like a game of pickup basketball, a bike ride, or a walk around the neighborhood. Even if you can only consistently manage a full-scale activity on the weekends, it’s better than nothing. And a little walk around the neighborhood after dinner is a great time to relax and debrief on the day.
It’s not as woo-woo as it sounds. There’s solid evidence backing up the efficacy of meditation for reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, and regulating hormones. Check out some of the research at the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Resources Center, and download some of their free meditations as well. But be forewarned: your family could start liking each other a whole lot more once they get into the swing of it.
Even when you do everything right, family life can be stressful. Having a parent or child with PCOS adds more complications. You or your teen may be moody, irritable, or downright depressed. It’s important not to make the one with PCOS feel like the problem; you all need to learn to deal with it more effectively.
We lose our sense of childlike delight in play so easily. But teens and adults need play too. Exercise doesn’t have to happen alone, and it doesn’t have to be just running on a treadmill or lifting weights. Get the whole family involved in hiking, horseback riding, volleyball, golf, folk dancing, or playing hopscotch. It’s a good bonding experience, as well as good exercise.
One of the most essential things someone with PCOS can do is cook most of their own food. I’m talking about food that’s healthy for everyone, not just the PCOS patient. Protein and produce, nuts and seeds, fresh baked goods made out of almond flour – all of these things are delicious and healthy – but you have to make active choices to include them in your diet.
Start by taking the whole family to your local farmers’ market to select fresh produce, free-range eggs and meats, and other healthy foods. The fruits are particularly gorgeous at this time of year. If you don’t know how to prepare it, ask the farmer for suggestions. Then go home and make a family project of cooking all your new treasures into a healthy meal. Use tree-ripened fruit as dessert, and see how you all feel later in the day (I’ll bet “pretty good” is your answer.).
Don’t forget to join my PCOS Wellness mailing list so you can get my monthly newsletter, announcements about The PCOS Mood Cure: The PCOS Psychologist’s Guide to Ending the Emotional Roller Coaster, and more.
Also check out my new Facebook group PCOS Wellness for Teens!
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