PCOS Cysters, let me tell you something important…
‘Snacking’ isn’t a forbidden word.
A quick Google search might lead you to believe that snacking is a no-no for women with PCOS, as it’s associated with succumbing to food cravings. But snacks aren’t the problem here; it’s the type of snacks that we need to watch out for, how many snacks, and what time we’re having them.
Women with PCOS who have insulin resistance tend to experience strong, urgent cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods. Insulin is an appetite stimulant, which explains why PCOS Cysters tend to be hungry a lot, even after meals. This can lead to overeating and weight gain, as having chronically high insulin blocks fat burning.
Let’s work with this, rather than against it. Eating 3 balanced meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) will set you up for snacking success, leading you to likely want a snack between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. Balanced meals keep your blood sugar stable for longer, and help prevent you from grazing on snacks throughout the day. This is ideal for PCOS because constantly snacking leads to constantly elevated insulin, which is not ideal for fat-burning or symptom management.
With the right nutritional properties, healthy snacks have numerous benefits for women with PCOS and can be very satisfying. They can decrease your cravings while giving you enough energy until your next meal and they can maintain blood sugar levels.
PCOS Snack Ideas
Many store-bought snacks can be filling in the short-term but ultimately unsatisfying, as they’re packed with added sugars. Let’s take a look at some healthy PCOS-friendly snack ideas you can add to your meal plan that will help you feel fuller for longer, no matter what you’re craving.
Please note this blog post is not a substitute for official medical advice. If you are concerned about your PCOS symptoms, suspect you have an underlying health condition or wish to make dietary/lifestyle changes, please consult your doctor first.
Trail mix is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. These nutrients can help you feel fuller for longer. Savory and slightly salty, I like to make it myself instead of buying it pre-packaged. That way, I can control how much-dried fruit (sugar) content there is in there. I even add cocoa nibs to my homemade trail mix to give a chocolatey touch without the sugar.
This pantry staple is a nutrient-dense gem. Almond butter boosts energy and keeps you full, thanks to its highly satiating protein and fat content. Two tablespoons pair nicely with a chopped apple or celery for a quick and filling snack.
Protein bars are a great on-the-go snack because the protein breaks down slowly and promotes a feeling of fullness. Look for protein bars that are high in fiber, less than 10g of sugar, and gluten and dairy free. I often opt for throwing a kind bar in my purse if I’m traveling or having a long day.
Let’s get bougie! I love pairing prosciutto with a peach or slice of melon. It’s the perfect combination of protein and carb, super refreshing and summery.
A Cup of Berries & Nuts
Berries are some of the healthiest foods out there. They’re low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Pair them with your favorite nuts to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Small but mighty, pumpkin seeds are a healthy PCOS snack that offers an array of nutritional benefits for a PCOS diet. You can eat them raw, but they’re especially delicious when roasted in olive oil or butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, or a seasoning of your choice. (you can also sprinkle them on a salad!)
Hummus and Carrots
Savory, crunchy, and oh-so-tasty! Carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals, while hummus is a great source of plant-based protein. A perfect snack for staving off cravings.
Chia seeds are rich in minerals, omega-3 fat, antioxidants, and fiber. Mix it with yogurt and leave it in the fridge to grab and top with your favorite gluten-free granola or berries.
Craving chocolate? A square or two of dark chocolate can be oh-so satisfying while providing key nutritional benefits. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants and health benefits it has. The flavanols in cocoa may improve insulin resistance by reducing oxidative stress and altering glucose metabolism.
Olives and olive oil are easy PCOS snacks that are rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. A serving of olives usually consists of between five and ten. I like to slather olive tapenade on a seed-based cracker, like Mary’s crackers.
Seed crackers are an excellent way to boost satiety. Seeds like chia, flax, and hemp offer an array of health benefits and nutrients that are satisfying and keep you full because they’re packed with fiber and healthy fats.
Make your own snack by mixing yogurt with peanut butter and berries and freezing it in a sheet pan. When you break it up, you’ll have lovely pieces of yogurt bark to enjoy. Check out our recipe here.
These are full of micronutrients, fiber, and protein. You can make your own at home with a can of chickpeas and your favorite seasoning. Just pop them in the oven!
Grapes are a fantastic source of protective antioxidants but they have a bit of sugar in them. I like to take grapes and dip them into a delicious seasoning, like tajin and freeze them. They’re a delicious, refreshing snack that goes well with a handful of nuts!
Packed with vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants, strawberries, especially when in season, are the sweet burst in your mouth you’re looking for. I like to drizzle them with almond butter and cocoa nibs for a delightful, well-balanced snack.
No-bake nut butter cookies
You don’t even have to pop them in the oven. Try making no-bake cookies and enjoy them for days, just put them in a ziplock and throw them in your purse. The best part of making them from scratch is that you can control how much or how little sugar goes into them.
Beef jerky is an excellent, high-protein portable snack. Look for jerky with as few added ingredients as possible. Although all jerky can be high in sodium, flavored jerky tends to have a higher sodium and sugar count, so check the nutritional details on the label to find an option that works for you.
If you’re in the mood to pick at your snack, air-popped, unflavored popcorn is a great option. It’s low in fat and high in fiber, you can season it with whatever you like (chipotle seasoning!) and mix it with seeds and nuts to make it extra filling.
Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, the sweet potato is as nutritious as it is delicious. A super filling and versatile food that can be eaten in so many ways, from wedges to chips, even dipped in almond butter…try it!
A nutritionally rich fruit that’s renowned for its ability to regulate appetite. The healthy fat and fiber content of avocados leads to feelings of fullness, which can prevent excessive snacking and aid sustainable weight loss. Smash one up and dip your seed cracker into it.
Salsa and Homemade Tortilla Chips
Cut corn tortillas into quarters, brush or spray with olive oil, dust with coarse salt, then bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve nice and warm with some salsa or guacamole and enjoy this healthier alternative to packaged tortilla chips.
Filling and refreshing, what more could you ask for? Blend up half a banana, berries and some protein powder with dairy-free milk, and voila!
Swap out potato chips with this delicious, crispy snack. Tear kale into bite-sized pieces, wash and dry with a salad spinner, drizzle the leaves with olive oil, then spread onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 20-30 minutes until the edges start to brown but aren’t burnt.
High in protein and great for blood sugar levels, edamame is a perfect snack to help PCOS Cysters keep the hunger pangs at bay.
Roasting veggies during meal prep is an easy way to grab a healthy option from the fridge when you’re feeling like you need a snack. Dip it in some hummus or eat it with your dried chickpeas!
Tangy, crunchy, and packed with vitamins. Pickles are great sources of vitamins A and K, two key antioxidants that are found in many fruits and vegetables. Anything pickled is delicious, IMO. Try pickling carrots! The probiotics are great for us PCOS cysters and it’s a delicious, refreshing snack.
The tropical flavor goes well with lime zest, a few toasted almonds, and some berries. Enjoy as a quick and healthy snack!
No- sugar- added, Dried Fruit
Sometimes you just want a sweet snack. I like to bite into a deliciously chewy dried mango, but when it comes to dried fruit, it’s easy to eat more than regular fruit because it doesn’t have as much water content. Look out for the ones made with added sugar and when you eat it, pair it with some nuts to make it more filling.
Walnuts are rich in ‘good’ fats, which may help to aid brain health and function. There’s also evidence to suggest that walnuts don’t contribute to weight gain, despite being energy-rich. A great snack alternative if you need to manage your weight!
There are an array of snacks for PCOS Cysters to enjoy that satiate hunger without piling on the pounds. Make sure you’re eating a combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep blood sugar (and insulin) from spiking.
Remember to assess your hunger levels before you reach for the snacks, so you’re giving your body what it needs rather than snacking out of habit.