Real life testimonial: Paleo for PCOS & infertility

This is part of an ongoing series of real life success stories from people all over the world who have been impacted by the Paleo lifestyle and The Paleo Solution. Read Danielle’s story below.

PCOS RecoveryThis was cross-posted from Danielle’s blog.
I’m a registered dietitian, most of you know that. Most of you also know that I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. Laugh all you want, it’s cool with me…I know my patients have over the years. Who’s going to take any diet and weight loss advice from a “professional” who can’t even keep her own scale in check, right? Right. It goes without saying that business was bad for a while and I was not surprised.

What was surprising was that I was following the same diet prescription that I would give to my clients. Low-fat. Whole grains. High fiber. Small portions. High-carb. Lean protein. Sugar substitutes. Diet soda. Moderate exercise. Blah, blah, blah…you know the drill. On paper, I was the perfect patient. On the scale, I was clinically obese. I didn’t understand it.

If you want to read about my epic weight loss journey, click here. If not, here’s the abbreviated version: I tore my ACL, had surgery, went through rehab, started salsa dancing, became obsessed with salsa dancing, started smoking, drank too much coffee, stopped eating, lost 458973875454 pounds, stopped smoking, took myself off of birth control, met a boy, started eating, drank too much coffee, gained 45638473 pounds and stopped menstruating. Phew.

Okay, “phew” probably didn’t cover up that bombshell I dropped at the end of my recap. Yes, I said I stopped menstruating (that means I stopped getting my period, boys) and no, you’re not going to catch me on an upcoming episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. I had never had this problem before. Then again, I had never been off birth control before either (it regulates a chick’s periods), so I just assumed I was knocked up (even though two pregnancy tests told me otherwise) and made an appointment with my OB/GYN. I gave him the run down of everything that had been going on with my little baby body over the last couple of months and he decided to give me an ultrasound. This is the conversation we had while he was checking out my lady bits…and the reason why he is no longer my OB/GYN.

Him: “Okay, we’re going to take a look at your uterus now. Are you ready?”

Me: ::indiscernible grunting noise::

Him: “Like we thought, no baby. Ah. But you see that right there? That stuff that looks like popcorn. Yeah, that’s your ovary. See that other patch of popcorn over there? That’s your other ovary. You only have PCOS, no biggie.”


Well, there you have it, people. Although he was a total jerk about doing so, in about 3 minutes and with only 54 words, this doctor gave the answer to every question I had ever asked concerning my blubbery body…PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I’m not going to write another 239875209 words about how not cool PCOS is because Wikipedia did it for us already. You just need these terms to follow where I’m going with this post:

  • Menstrual Disorders.
  • Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Central Obesity.
  • Acne.
  • Insulin Resistance.
  • Infertility.

Fun, right? Yeah, especially that last one! Ugh. Well, at least I had my answers and it all started to make sense! The weight gain. The inability to lose weight. The acne. The other stuff. It was all me and it had been me my entire life! I just want to throw in right here that my Love Cub was ridiculously supportive during this whole process. I was a hot mess when I came home from the doctor and told him that I was 239857309857325% sure I wasn’t going to be able to bear him babies. His reaction: “We’ll figure it out, babe.” See why I’m marrying him?

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that I was already familiar with PCOS when Dr. Jerky McJerkerson diagnosed me. Let me clarify my level of understanding of the disease by saying that I had read about it in a nutrition journal 239875 years earlier; that’s about all I knew. From that article, I remembered that women affected by it were unusually hairy and were shaped like football players (my mind holds onto the strangest information). I needed a little more than that to work with, so I started doing my own research.

I learned that a BIG issue for women with PCOS was disordered metabolism of glucose and insulin. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that my “popcorn” ovaries totally wack out the way that my body responds to sugar and its dietary sources (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.). Great, all the good stuff. All the yummy, delicious, fantastic beige stuff! All the low-fat, whole-grain, high-fiber, small portioned, high-carb stuff I had been stuffing my face with for 2353254987539857320574354 years and had been promoting to all my clients. Nice.

Needless to say, I was a little bummed. My $80,000 college education seemed a total waste of time and money considering that living by it’s main tenants was kinda killing both me and my hopes for a family. I kept digging around on the Internet and eventually found that there was a large group of women who were reporting success in controlling or even reversing the disease by adopting a Paleo Lifestyle. A lifestyle that significantly reduces dietary glucose intake and insulin production. Hmmm…

Wonderful, yet another thing I needed to research. I didn’t have to dig too deep to get information about Paleo though. This was Summer 2010 and a good girlfriend of mine was talking a ton about some guy named Robb Wolf and a book he was getting ready to release called The Paleo Solution. She also turned me on to Everyday Paleo, a website managed by wonder mom, Sarah Fragoso. I started playing around with some of the recipes I found on Sarah’s website and was surprised that I really liked them! I was surprised because the recipes are all completely devoid of beige.

No beige. No bread. No pasta. No rice. No WAY! I’m Cuban and Italian…I was raised on beige! I wasn’t completely sold on cutting the carbs until Robb’s book came out in September 2010. Fireworks. That’s the best way I can explain the action of the neurons in my little baby brain after reading The Paleo Solution.

The argument is this: We evolved to eat meat, not grains. When humans popped around 235423857203 years ago, we hunted and gathered our food and we were F-I-N-E, fine! No cancer. No food allergies. No high blood pressure. No obesity. No PCOS. No nothing! It wasn’t until the advent of agriculture and eventual processing of foods that the human race began to develop debilitating diseases.

I was sold even though eating Paleo went against everything I was taught in school. High-fat. High-cholesterol. High-calorie. Red meat. The American Dietetic Association’s nightmare. Oh well.

I’m not going to sit here and try to explain how much I learned from this one book because I will surely make a mess of the details. I’m no biochemist, Robb is. All I’ll say is that the way the government has suggested we eat for the past 50 years is ALL WRONG! Just buy the damn book and see for yourself. It’s the best $24.95 you’ll EVER spend on yourself, I promise! While you’re at it, pick up Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes or anything by Michael Pollan. Okay, enough with the plugs…back to me.

It’s a little more complicated than just eating meat, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds. First of all, it’s a commitment. Wil and I sat down and had a very long talk about our (specifically, my) health. If I was going to do this-to take this challenge and change my lifestyle-I needed his full support. No questions about my plate, no complaints about our dinners and definitely no sneaking beige goodies behind my back.

Second of all, it’s expensive. It’s a sad truth that it’s cheaper to eat unhealthy processed “food” than it is to eat real food. We needed to agree to devote more of our income to purchasing products that would promote our health. Products that were, themselves, healthy. You are what you eat…and what what you eat, eats.

I decided to make a sacrifice for me and my family. I decided to take the plunge and quit the beige cold turkey! I decided that spending money on my family’s health was more important than buying a new pair of shoes every month. I’ve been eating Paleo for over seven months now and honestly, I don’t view it as that much of a sacrifice anymore.

One. I lost 29875402398547 pounds without even trying!
Two. I don’t have violent drops in my blood sugar after every meal like I had in the past.
Three. My periods come every 28-days to the minute!
Four. I feel FANTASTIC!
Five. I can eat as much as I want!
Six. Do I really need to continue?

No, I don’t think so. I honestly didn’t think that it was possible to eat this way AND change my health condition AND convince Wil to eat brussels sprouts. Paleo is a miracle, believe dat! I’m experimenting with new foods and recipes every day and sharing everything I’ve learned about Paleo with my family, friends and clients. I will never go back to my old eating habits. True story: a co-worker of mine asked me if I was going to “stop dieting” after the wedding. My response, “This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” Unbelievable.

A special thanks to Robb Wolf and Sarah Fragoso for making this transition a little less scary and a little more palatable. I’m happy and healthy. Wil’s happy and healthy. Our future family (that I’m 239857309857325% sure will be on it’s way next year) will be happy and healthy, too.


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Categories: Paleo Testimonials


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. says

    Congrats and what a great, happy transformation. Love your style.
    And isnt scary all the crap we learn from out government. Paleo eating, 100% compliance has also changed my life!

    • says

      Thanks for all your positive feedback, Sarena! It is really discouraging to see what kind of crap our government puts out for the people to digest. I’m hoping my health care professionals jump learn about the remarkable benefits of Paleo!

  2. says

    Danielle, you look great! Good job pulling it together. Just think, now you have something of real value to offer your clients.

    I too was diagnosed with PCOS and suffered the gamut of symptoms all of my menstruating years – acne, rupturing cysts on my ovaries, amenorrhea, infertility, depression, to name a few.

    The doctors offered me another cocktail of drugs like they had for one illness after the other since I started my period at age 11. I had taken the pill before and had become mistrustful of hormonal drugs so I started searching for an alternative. Eventually I discovered the Paleo diet and recovered. I got pregnant within 3 months and ever since my periods are 28 days on the nose. All my symptoms have vanished.

    Modern foods are such a curse!

    • says

      Thank you, Peggy! It sucks spending $92385035 a month for real food, but the effects it has on my and my family’s health is priceless. :-)

    • says

      Congrats to you both! I’ve seen the same thing with dozens of clients… doctor diagnoses PCOS, gives no real advice or hope, client eventually changes nutrition and lifestyle and symptoms disappear! You both look great!

  3. says

    This is the first time I have heard about Paleo. Sounds like it has really helped you. But what’s the difference between Paleo and Atkins or other low carb programs?

    • omer says

      The biggest difference is food quality. Paleo emphasizes food quality over macronutrient ratios while Atkins is more about getting total carbs down significantly. There is significant overlap between the two but a difference in philosophy. Paleo could, conceivably, be moderate carb in comparison to Atkins, but those carbs would come from high quality sources.

      At least that’s my take on it.

  4. Kaleena says


    From one PCOS-er to another, I struggle with the same damn thing! I would love to know how long your turn around took? I must admit, most of my friends and family think that I am a odd ball with this whole change of “diet”. Personally, when I have tried the doctors orders of “Pills, Pill and more Pills”…its annoying because it doesn’t freaking work!

    Thanks for the post, help me see some sort of hope!

    • says

      Keep at it, Kaleena! You’ll get to your own level of amazing if you just keep your eyes on the prize, namely regular periods and children. :-)

    • Kim says

      Our friends never seem to have a problem with us taking meds for what ails us, but changes in dietary intake–they can’t stand it. When people try to force feed me foods that I don’t want I tell them I have an intolerence to them. Make it sound like a medical condition (which it is) and no one says anything.

    • Jules says

      I have PCOS and amenorrhea. I started eating Paleo in August and got my period this week (October). Good luck!

  5. Dana says

    Michelle: Before someone jumps on the bash-Atkins bandwagon with all sorts of weird mythology, the MAIN difference between Atkins and Paleo is that Atkins counts carbs. Because you can eat Paleo foods and follow an Atkins plan. People who eat Paleo, though, don’t necessarily count carbs. It all depends on the individual situation with carb tolerance and such.

    With Atkins you start at 20g a day of carbs, net of fiber (you don’t count fiber), for the first two weeks. Then you add in carbs by about 5g a week til you find your tolerance level.

    Some people can’t tolerate tubers or high-sugar fruit or most root veggies–their metabolism’s too broken. For them an approach that finds their tolerance level makes sense. In that case get any of the versions of the Atkins book that date prior to Dr. Atkins’s death (ignore the latest edition, I’ve read it, it’s pretty much crap) and just eat Paleo-approved foods as you go.

    • JoelG says

      Also, the Atkins folks sometimes miss the forest for the trees: They can be too focused on carbs-as-the-enemy, whereas the real emphasis w’ Robb’s approach to paleo is on food quality.
      That’s whole foods, the way nature made them. But it’s also important to understand what makes a food wholesome. The absence of food toxins like gluten, soy, industrial seed oils and the like–that’s a big deal. Sometimes Atkins folks miss this and will eat packaged junk food, so long as it’s low-carb junk food.

  6. Stephanie Greunke says

    Awesome to hear another registered dietitian is soaking this up and making logical choices based on truly evidenced based practice :) Good for you!!! We’ve got to do our best to promote this within our practice and stories like these help solidify our case!

    • says

      You have no idea how much it pains me to prescribe high-carb, low-fat diets to patients in my acute care hospital because the physicians refuse to do anything against the AMA. I need to move into the outpatient setting PRONTO! I just don’t know how to go about doing it in NYC.

      • Christine says

        Here’s another RD responding to the Paleo call! Well done Danielle and Stephanie. Maybe ADA will hear the call at some point, once we get past the pyramid, then the other pyramid, and then a plate.

          • Steph Greunke says

            We will absolutely get the message out there with or without the help of the AMA, ADA, FDA, USDA and other agencies. Will any of you ladies be attending the ADA conference this year in San Diego? We might be able to set up a Paleo Booth and the more support the better!

      • says

        I have the opposite problem. I don’t want to send my patients to the hospital because none of the dieticians have any idea what they are talking about there (at my hospital). I suppose I need to formulate my OWN paleo-friendly diet for my patients who are admitted. I have looked and looked for a dietician/nutritionist in my area that I can send patients to and have not been successful. I guess I have to wait until my wife finishes her Masters in Nutrition (currently a BSN).

  7. Nicole says

    Having polycystic ovaries does not mean someone has PCOS. Most obese have polycystic ovaries, without having the full spectrum of the actual syndrome. I have been able to maintain weight by running and keeping my carbs low. Paleo is one way…but there are many. Natasha, from raw radiant health, reversed polycystic ovaries on the raw food diet (no meat).

      • Nicole says

        I’m not saying raw food is perfect…but there are many, many ways. High raw, with fish and eggs is an awesome way to manage PCOS too. Rigorous exercise, 5 days a week together with *almost* any diet works too.

          • Megs says

            Nicole, my experience with PCOS is that rigorous exercise 6 days a week with almost any diet doesn’t work. Try working out 6 days a week at least 2 hours a day (very rigorously I might add!) and gaining 5 pounds in a month. Yeah, PCOS rocks. But, that is my experience.

    • says

      Raw vegan is paleo without the meat and animal products – that is why it works – FOR A WHILE.

      So while it fixes health problems (for some not all) in the same way as a conventional animal product paleo works, eventually the nutrient deficiencies happen 6 months, even years down the track. (B12, iron, protein, selected amino acids, vitamin A, K2,) I heard a raw foodist talk recently that after 4 years she no longer felt the incredible energy she had when she started, she added a combo of 6 egg yolks and raw cottage cheese to her diet – and she started buzzing again.

      I did a post on vegan diet issues here:

      • Nicole says

        I’m not a proponent of raw vegan, nor am I raw vegan…I’m just noting that Paleo is not the *only* way to cope with PCOS. South Beach works for many women with PCOS too. High raw, high veggies with a little fish and egg can work too. Everything in moderation, plus exercise works too. I’m talking *specifically* about PCOS, which…we don’t even know if Danielle had PCOS or *just* poycystic appearing ovaries from obesity. I’m so happy that Danielle was able to lose the weight and regulate her menstrual cycles! She is joining a whole herd of women who have been able to do the same through various methods. I eat a small amount of lentils and ancient grains…I eat potatoes occasionally…I eat greek yogurt almost every day…I even eat ice cream sometimes. I run 10-15 miles a week. I have lost the weight, regulated my menstrual cycles and restored ovlulation.

        • says

          The deal with Paleo in all of this is it addresses both nutrient deficiencies common to other approaches and autoimmune complications of grains, while also hitting the hyperinsulin piece. Undoubtedly there are many ways to do this, which is why I encourage folks to tinker.

          No disrespect, but the “moderation” position is just a ridiculous slippery slope. We SHOULD have standards for all things in life.

          • Natalie says

            Couldn’t agree more!

            “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice” (Thomas Paine)

          • says

            I agree so much Robb!! Whenever I have talked myself into trying a “moderate” diet, I ALWAYS ended up eating “moderate” amounts of things that were making me sick. For me, moderation leaves me with an option of including foods that I know are unhealthy into my diet.
            Now that I am Paleo, there are certain foods that I will NOT allow in my diet… even when I am relaxing a bit, such as grains.

  8. says

    Thank you so much for this inspirational story! I’ve always had difficulties keeping a healthy weight because of PCOS…I’ve tried so many diets… The one I’m doing now is The Belly Fat Cure Diet, low in carbs and sugar but it does include grains and dairy; I just feel it’s not working so well for me because of my hormonal imbalance.
    I’ve tried the Paleo Diet before, it gave me great results but I keep craving grains (specially being Latin). I was wondering if there are any foods to avoid (besides grains) having PCOS? And what about the food quantities? Unlimited amount of veggies and protein? There are so many women with PCOS and so reduced information about it.

    Thanks and keep the good work! :)

    • says

      I know what you mean about craving grains…I’m Cuban and Italian. ‘Nuff said! I’ve just been strict about following the Paleo lifestyle (and I mean REALLY strict) and have had success with it. I will admit though…I made some Cuban black beans this weekend and I just HAD to have a couple of bites. My recipe is bangin’ and it was killing me to see everyone else plowing through the pot. Back on the wagon today. :-)

  9. Star says

    I’m having a hard time getting off the beige foods and candy.
    I have ovarian cysts (but not PCOS…maybe I’m on my way there) and a “small” uterine fibroid.
    This post has renewed my resolve to eat Paleo.
    I think the ideas of spending your money on healthful food vice living diseased (and spending your money on doctors, hospitals, etc…) is the more appealing way to spend money and spend my time/life.

    You go girl!

    • Alexandra says

      I can really relate to the cravings.. For me the issue was solved by going very low on the carbs…only fresh things like spinach, red peppers, other leafy greens, etc. and really upping the animal fat…it was hard to reprogram my brain after a lifetime of hearing from my parents that fat and meat are from the devil but now I will dip my home raised, locally butchered bacon in the drippings before I eat it. I’ve come a very long way and could not be happier, healthier or more energetic. Not to mention over 100 lbs lighter!

      Carbs are not worth it.

  10. says

    Danielle- First of all, you look great! I really appreciate reading stories where women realize that the “health of our family” comes first.
    You will have a kid very soon and he/she will be so lucky to have someone like you, is a very humble thing to accept “we were doing wrong” and I very much admire you for that.

    All i can add is that throughout history much of our money went to “housing” and our second biggest expense was ” food” (where few cultures still do it this way) i hope we come to realize that our health is more important than wearing the lastest fashion. If we drop all those unneccesary expenses we have in our life and start investing in our well being, we can resolve this “slow-poisoning” advices from the media that are clearly killing us.

    Good luck with the future! and fortunate clients!

    • says

      HAHAHA, I know! The crazy numbers are part of an on going joke over at my blog. Since it was reposted from my website, they carried over here were out of context, it makes no sense whatsoever. :-)

  11. says

    Thank you all for your kind words! It’s a constant battle and I won’t believe I have won the war until I have my very own screaming infant lying in my arms. If you have any additional questions or comments, please visit me at (you can follow that blog, too, if you’d like) or email me at danfredorivera{at}

  12. Steph says

    So much of this is so damn familiar, right down to the doctor tossing out the PCOS diagnosis.

    “So what can I do to fix it?” I asked.


    “I already exercise 4-5 times a week.”

    “Well, you could watch your calorie intake.”

    “I eat 1200 calories a day.”

    Doctor gives me a skeptical look and shrugs. “Diet and exercise.”

    Thanks, Doc!

  13. Amy says

    I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago and continued to struggle with my weight and all the other symptoms of PCOS. I read Robb Wolfe’s book in January and days later started the 30-day challenge. My periods had been very irregular in the past, I had been on medication for insulin resistance and acne. Within a month of eating paleo my acne began to clear, I started losing weight, and for the first time since I started my period as a teenager, had a regular period without meds. This lifestyle has changed the way I think about food and I’ve never felt better!!! It’s great to see that other women are finding answers to infertility issues with Paleo!!!!

  14. says

    Wow. I am floored, and I don’t know what to say. You are a RD? You know what a person is told when they are diagnosed with Diabetes then. Clinically, it is a sad state to see what diabetics (especially the elderly) are fed. Diabetic Resource (which is another way of saying canned nutrition – IF you can call it that!)

    I am sorry to hear about your PCOS. I can totally relate to the confusion you had when you were told. I went through that same set of emotions as well.

    As a diabetic, I am still unsure on what to do. I can’t seem to drop the weight, but then again I am not strict Paleo either. I just guess I need to shit or get off the pot. You have inspired me in that way!

    Here’s to your new addition. My wife and I are currently experiencing yet another setback – but she WONT give up the beige.

    • Cindy says

      I was a gestational diabetic with my last baby. The advice I got included eating only 2-3 tortillas with lunch instead of white bread! The doc told me that because I was diagnosed so early in the pregnancy that I would end up in the hospital on insulin before the end. Fat chance! I went to the library and found a book by Dr. Bernstein called “The Diabetes Solution”. Long story short, I finished the pregnancy with no drugs, no hospital and a very healthy 7lb baby girl! The doctors could not believe it.

      A few years later my Dad was diagnosed with diabetes and called me to find out what to do. He follows the book like a doctor’s prescription and in 3 years has lost 50lbs and still does not use any medication to control his blood sugar, just diet and exercise. The Diabetes Solution is very similar to Paleo (that is why I was attracted to paleo in the first place) but helps you manage your carbs to track your blood sugar. Get the book and just try it. I hope that this helps.

    • says

      Yep to being an RD and double yep to the crap they serve to the elderly. I actually work in geriatric psychiatry and have to deal with do-do doctors prescribing that crap all. the. time. It’s ridiculous!

      I have a girlfriend (also an RD) who’s a type-1 diabetic. Her weight has been creeping up over the past couple of years and her dependence on insulin is at an all-time high. I challenged her to follow Paleo for a month because I was tired of hearing her bitching about her weight. She followed it quasi-strictly and managed to drop 7 pounds in 2 weeks. She was happy, but also not ready to commit because. The weight is back…and then some. She actually guest posted on my blog a couple weeks back if you’re interested (

      Good luck to you, my friend!

    • says

      Hi Jason,
      A few years back, I was considering a new career, and becoming an RD was at the top of the list. I researched it and spoke with a some RD’s who were working in the field. Many, many of them expressed that they felt “gagged” when it came to giving correct nutritional advice, and HATED having to sit in front of an obese diabetic and tell them to “eat their carbs and take their insulin”. I am from Canada, but the same nutritional dogma exists here.

      I just KNEW that I would be miserable if I was forced by the CMA and Dieticians of Canada (our registering body) to give people bad advice. So…

      I chose instead to become an RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist). In this way, I am able to give what I passionately believe is the right advice to people, without fear of retribution from my registering body.

      Now, that does come with limitations… I do not qualify for jobs in mainstream healthcare (which suits me just fine), and some people, not only medical professionals… but some lay people too do not consider my education to be “valid”. But… lay or professional… these people are ASTOUNDED by the results that I get with both weight loss and improvement (sometimes dramatic) in biomarkers, such as triglycerides, cholesterol (if it really even means anything), blood pressure and others.

      My clients have been able to dramatically decrease or discontinue meds by using a Paleo type diet, while their doctors shake their heads and say “What are you doing??”

      • Amy Kubal says

        As a “Paleo RD”, I would like to say that there are absolutely NO rules saying that we MUST tell people to eat grains, sugar, etc. Real food is a solid recommendation – carbs come from vegetables, roots and tubers, and fruit – there is no reason to HAVE to recommend bread, pasta, etc. Feeling ‘gagged’ is a choice. If you are employed at a school district that relies on government funding to feed kids are you going to have to follow USDA guidelines, yep – but that is the path you decided to go down.

        Also, what is Paleo? It’s real food – you cannot argue against unprocessed, high quality foods. And if it is acceptable to be a vegetarian or vegan, in which meats, dairy, and/or eggs are not present in the diet; how can a diet that takes out grains be ridiculed? A food group is a food group… Don’t be discouraged – credentials and licensing go a LONG WAY – and the science (biochem, physiology, advanced metabolism, etc.) that you learn while pursuing your degree are invaluable. Not all RD’s and medical professionals are evil – and the tides are slowly turning. So be part of the revolution! That’s what Robb’s RD’s are doing!

  15. Janeen says

    Great success story. I am also having success beating PCOS with Paleo and strength training. I am trying to conceive child#2 and hoping to do so without any fertility drugs this time around.

  16. Matt says

    The majority of women that have PCOS are overweight and are not eating healthy. What about the lean form of PCOS? My wife currently has been diagnosed with this and she is not the typical PCOS patient. For the most part we/she eats pretty much paleo (80/20). Any ideas?

    • Nicole says

      Matt, has your wife been able to confirm that she is ovulating? If she is ovulating, you might consider additional testing. I have PCOS, but also have a form of Thrombosis (which is not that uncommon). Don’t waste time. I have “thin” PCOS, TTC for 10 years, 4 miscarriages, one stillbirth…one live birth too…but the additional testing didn’t happen until I had suffered through all of that.

  17. Shannon says

    @Matt–have her go 100 %. I was diagnosed way back in 1994 and strict is the best bet. I was lucky to find a very progressive dr about 10 yrs ago who put me on a basically paleo diet. When I veer off it I gain weight every. Single. Time. Have her pay close attention to how her body responds to non-paleo food. I can cheat with cheese, but not ice cream, for example.

    @Danielle–you are well on your way to that baby! I was so lucky to find a dr who did all this in time to preserve my fertility. Get your insulin levels under control and your periods will come back. Monitoring basal body temp is a good way to tell if you’re ovulating. I’ve got two boys to prove this works! Good luck!!

  18. Jen says

    @Matt – I know plenty of overweight PCOS women who eat healthy, myself included. I hate the assumption that because you are overweight, you must be eating poorly and never exercise. Spend 90 seconds Googling PCOS and you’ll learn it is a medical condition and not something we brought upon ourselves by stuffing our face with chocolate cake. After baby #2, I found that 1200 calories/day and 45 min/day exercise had NO affect on my weight. ZERO. Of course, that 1200 calories included dairy and grain products.

    I tried Paleo for 10 days and lost 7 lbs (which is ridiculous and amazing if you suffer from PCOS), but my entire house came down with a violent stomach flu and we never got back on the bandwagon. After reading Danielle’s story, I’m inspired to give it another go for atleast 30 days. Thanks to Danielle for sharing her story!

      • says

        I’ll test it for 30 days and get back to you! I’ve had PCOS for my entire life. I’ve been up to 220 and currently at 150 by working out way m ore than the average human! Anyway, I’m going to give Paleo a shot and I’ll report back. PS IS RAW PROTEIN FROM GARDEN OF LIFE paleo?

      • Britt says

        I was diagnosed last year with PCOS. I am 18, 5’4 inches tall. In September of last year I weighed 120 lbs..very fit and healthy to the naked eye. I had some extreme carb cravings and would binge on muffins, cereal, etc…I also went through a period of purging as well to keep my weight in check after binges. I had developed weird food sensitivities, so I had already weaned myself off of many things on my own by the time I was diagnosed. I still had spelt flakes in the morning because my doctor and nutrionists kept saying I didn’t eat enough carbs or fiber. I have always exercised a lot…2-3 hours most days to maintain weight.
        In October I began to gain weight rapidly, which sent me back to the doctors where I got my pcos diagnosis. At that point I did research and found out about paleo eating and made the switch fully, which was at the beginning of March. Carb cravings are gone and I have no desire to go back, but my weight is still increasing. I have gained another 12 since I started and am now up to 149 pounds. But I am barely hungry so probably not even eating 1000 cals a days… I have to force myself to eat sometimes. It makes no sense. Am I doing something wrong or could there be something else wrong with me causing this problem? Doctors are no help.

  19. says

    This is all interesting to me. Is there any information regarding FIBROIDS and the paleo diet? I thought raw vegan, juicing and detoxing were the way but I know I also know I am a protein type. I have no energy and my cramps are horrific. When I was protein and on Atkins years ago I dont recall the problems I am having as vegan. Fibroids specifically recovery info would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Heather says

    I have been battling PCOS, and my up and down weight, for about 10 years. I recently just got into crossfit, and paleo eating. Thank you for the inspirational post. It gives me hope.

  21. Allison says

    I am very intrigued by this diet. I also have PCOS, and am lucky enough to have 2 beautiful daughters. I worked hard to have them, went through many fertility treatments and 4 miscarriages. I need to get healthier for them. I’d like to give this a go but my main question is whether or not to continue taking metformin while on this diet. If anyone knows I would appreciate it!

  22. says

    Hello! So I am a Celiac who just started Paleo yesterday. This post has just given me another reason to join up. I have PCOS and it has affected my moods for a huge majority of my life. I’ve been GF for 1 year since I was diagnosed and (along with therapy) I’ve been able to take control of my life. No more depression, very low anxiety. I also run and work out a lot but I believe that my diet and life style compliment each other. I had no idea that my PCOS could go away or be improved with Paleo. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  23. Cat Alberts says

    Hi Danielle, great post! I was wondering if you have had another scan, now that your periods have normalised. Are the cycsts gone? I have a friend who is having a lot of trouble with PCOS and I forwarded her this post.

  24. Becky says

    I have struggled with my weight my entire life and was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 21 and recently, hypothyroidism. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over 5 years. We have gone through 6 rounds of Clomid (horrid!) and a round on injectibles (which all just added 65484321684 pounds!). I have just recently gone cold turkey paleo after a friend of mine told me about her success. In only a week, I feel like a different person. I have lost 6 lbs. (unheard of in PCOS land) in a week and just FEEL better. The recipes I’ve found are fun to make and delicious, and I finally feel like I’m on the right track. I am hoping that I can get down to a healthy weight and maybe even get pregnant without pumping myself full of chemicals. This was just the change I needed to make.

  25. Cindy says

    Totally had the doc tell me that my PCOS wasn’t causing my out-of-no-where-15lbs-in-2-months weight gain, even though I am eating impeccably and exercising pretty intensely. Thanks for sharing your story – I needed to hear that I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll try this Paleo-stuff after all!

  26. khadija says

    Hello I am a 21 year old who was diagnosed with pcos last year. I had been to multiple doctors in my teens due to my irregular periods but it wasn’t until last year they found what it actually was. My question is that i am quite thin weighing 113 lbs with a 5’4″ height. I have managed my mild acne, slight unwanted hair growth and mild hair loss symptoms with a low glycemic diet. I have cut down on all the sugar and white carbs. I have started to exercise recently since I wasn’t very active. I have weight around my midsection mostly and that is about it. I am not sure what I should do since I am not a typical pcos with overweight issues. My doctor put me on birthcontrol and I tried it for 3 months and hoped that my periods would become regular but they didn’t. Know i have just been watching my diet but I am not sure what exactly to do. My mom and sister do not have pcos. My sister has to beautiful daughters and she had no issues getting pregnant. Though I am not trying to conceive, I really want to get regular periods since I haven’t had one in the past 3 months. Do you think the paleo diet will help me? I am a indian woman and we eat home cooked meals at home. Please send me any suggestions of information you have about thin pcos.

  27. Dawn says

    Interesting thing is that 2 years ago I started eating fullgrain, less and running three times a week. About 1 year ago I started doing more and more paleo.
    Almost 1,5 year ago I got PCOS. Only got it diagnosed a few months back. I read that when women have been bigger when they got their period, the body will respond to losing weight with alarm, thinking “shit, starvation!” and stop the cycle. I wonder if this is what happened to me.
    Anyway, I’m a thin PCOS-girl and I’ve read that we should generally eat about 50% carbs to keep hypothyroidisme at bay.

    I’m getting tired of all of the carb-restriction. When i shortly tried raw vegan (1,5 weeks) I felt amazing and my stomach disappeared. Now, I know the problematics of that lifestyle and am all for paleo, but I just think this confirms that carbs aren’t necessarily the enemy. I also seem to feel fine when using basmati rice as a stable.

    Also, does anybody know the rate of pcos-hit women in china/japan where they eat a lot of rice?

    Just throwing this out there. I think Paleo can definitely be the solution for a lot of women. I’m going to try it again, probably, though I don’t really have the budget. I need potatoes or rice as a stable to make the budget work.

  28. Phoebe says

    I was diagnosed with PCOS at 13, put on the contraceptive pill and told to come back when i wanted to have children – by the time i did, nearly 20 years later, my body was in a nearly irreparable state – obese, metabolism at a near standstill, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Because i was so young when i was diagnosed, PCOS was always just a part of who I was, and for a long time I didn’t question it.

    No doctor i saw in those 20 years gave me any advice on how to manage my PCOS, just refilled my prescription for the pill and told me to lose weight – they also never believed that i ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly (and because i was always my own harshest critic, and in the face of their constant negative reinforcement, I would always walk away thinking that “I guess i could do better” and every little slip up became the source of much pain and self-loathing).

    Over the years I came to accept that it was never going to be thin, and tried to accept myself as I was. When my confidence and self-esteem grew, I finally realized that there was literally no more i could do to improve my diet & exercise regime (within the parameters of what i knew at the time).

    But my doctors still wouldn’t believe me, so then I simply stopped eating. It seemed at the time to be the only way to convince them that my weight wasn’t because of what i was eating! Obviously a bad plan, but i was desperate for some real help (I still didn’t get it, of course, because then they just told me that I’d sent my body into ‘starvation mode’).

    Well, that was the final nail in the coffin of my metabolism, and then came the chronic fatigue, thyroid problems, depression/anxiety, and memory/cognitive impairments. I had to stop work because i literally either couldn’t get out of bed and/or concentrate for long enough to make it through the day. And of course, I had no energy at all for exercise by then… Rock bottom…

    That was 2 years ago, and unbeknownst to be, I’ve actually been finding my own path to Paleo in my quest for holistic wellness – with still no help from my doctors, i might add. I eat hardly any processed foods, no chocolate/sweets, lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and only good oils. I experimented with supplements as well, and found that i can’t function without my magnesium, Vit D and B-Complex.

    The only thing left for me to give up is my breads and pastas – which is gonna be the tough one – but I’ve come to realize that I’m nearly there, and what I have been doing is probably the only reason that I’m back to being semi-functional (though i can still only work part-time as my energy levels have remained low and I’m still easily fatigued), but my periods are regular and my weight is steady (no, i haven’t lost any, but i haven’t put any on in the last 2 years either, which I’m counting as an achievement considering where I’ve come from!).

    I’ve always resisted giving up grains because I’ve always believed that i was eating a balanced diet by following the food pyramid – anything else was a ‘fad’ diet and not something i wanted to try (mind you, i was willing to try starvation – but a fad diet was a step too far!). But after reading this post on how even the medically trained have been mislead by the commonly accept wisdom, it’s time for me to give it a go.

    So bye-bye grains, and hello Paleo! Fingers crossed.

  29. Phoebe says

    Sorry, i somehow added that before i was finished… I would appreciate if you could edit these two posts into one!

    My thought about PCOS and Paleo – one of the reasons that i have read that PCOS is now so common nowadays, apart from the obvious fact that it is now medically possible to properly diagnose it, is that from an evolutionary perspective, women whose bodies allowed them to hold onto nutrients longer, were better able to survive and reproduce in times of famine, etc. and hence the trait survived to be handed down to current generations.

    This speaks volumes to me about the benefits of Paleo for PCOS, as this inherited ability is now a curse rather than a blessing. This accepted medical fact seems to fit right in with Paleo’s claims about agriculture changing our eating patterns, while our DNA hasn’t had a chance to catch up.

    Paleo might not be for everyone, but if it’s true that we have PCOS because we’re genetically coded that way (to be insulin-resistant), then it makes logical sense to me that Paleo should work to address PCOS.

  30. Sara says

    Just had to add a note for anyone reading all the comments (like I did!) to say that I was first diagnosed with PCOS about 10 years ago and, like many of the people above me, failed to ever find a way to control my weight. Long story short, I started a primarily paleo/primal diet a WEEK ago and have lost 10 pounds. I still have many more pounds to lose, but my body has never responded so well to anything before in my life. Not to mention, I’ve felt phenomenal since about day 3. Anxiety is significantly diminished, I have energy, need less sleep, hardly ever hungry – I could continue indefinitely. Yay!

  31. Maria says

    I had PCOS for years and was never offered advice on how to control it. Only birth control pills and metformin. I started reducing carbs and replacing with veggies and already lost 5 pounds in 10 days. The 1st week was hard. I was getting really tired and dizzy but now I feel great. It’s hard to believe how addicted I was to wheat. I plan on going on Paleo completely eventually.

  32. Sonnet says

    Your story was my wake up call. To say that I’ve been suffering from PCOS is an understatement. I’m currently at my heaviest (5ft 3in, 263 lbs, 31 years old), shaving my face and stomach every day (waaaay beyond plucking), two periods in the last year, absolutely no energy, headaches, sleeplessness, terrible memory (matter of fact, I found my old LiveJoural account, and I know exactly when that started – 2006. I started transposing numbers and words. Did the necessary tests, docs say there’s nothing unusual neurologically going on.), depression, moodiness, skin tags, dark patches of skin, acne, hair loss. I have every single symptom. I purchased an elliptical and a treadmill this past summer while my husband was deployed, and I couldn’t even muster the energy. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 8 years (well, we really gave up hope of that about 3 years ago.), but the military doctors won’t send you for fertility treatments if you’re over a certain BMI (and, they don’t care about PCOS.). Anyway – you know it’s terrible. I know my case is extreme, but I’m hoping to have some success. Between your story and the sweet woman over at – I made a decision, purchased books by Mr. Sisson and Mr. Wolf, some recommended Paleo/Primal cookbooks, and… Well, by this weekend – my life is going to take a turn for the better. This is really a last ditch effort for me. I’m fat, tired, and out of options. The doctors have written me off, and they’re combative when I tell them I don’t want to take certain meds. They don’t like that I don’t blindly trust them (I’m sure my records have been noted because I seem to get the same attitude from different doctors.). So, I feel like I’ve been isolated from the people who are supposed to help – and my weight, headaches and general self-image have isolated me from everyone else. There’s a Rosetta Stone commercial where a gentleman says that he loves it when he dreams in French. I dream in healthy. When I dream, I’m thinner – I can run and move. So, I’m using that as my motivation. I hope that a year from now, I have my own success story to share. So, thank you for sharing. You have inspired me. And, thank you to Mr. Wolf… for, well… Everything :)

  33. Seven7 says

    Sonnet (and everyone else who commented that they were just starting on Paleo) — how’s the new lifestyle going?

    I was finally diagnosed with PCOS last fall, after years and years of knowing I had it but PCPs and endocrinologists denying it. An ultrasound finally solved things. I am not overweight, but have struggled with eating issues (binge eating disorder) for 10+ yrs! EXCESSIVE amounts of exercise have kept me in the healthy weight range. In all that time I’ve been following standard “healthy” eating habits — whole grains, protein, fiber, lean meats, yogurt, etc. etc. and also had a ton of therapy from nutritionists, eating disorder specialists, psychologists, the list goes on and on! Nothing helped.

    I talked to a new doctor about four weeks ago who believes the severity of PCOS symptoms are largely determined by stress. The more stress (mental–job related for example, or physical–excessive working out! for example), the worse the symptoms. She recommended trying to significantly reduce the stress in my life as well as birth control and a low-carb diet.

    In my subsequent research I discovered Mark Sisson’s Primal diet and started on that about three weeks ago. Cravings and binge episodes are way down and my acne is beginning to clear up. Binges still occur on occasion though. I started off really strictly, trying to keep carbs <100g, reducing dairy to almost zero and hardly any fruits.

    I am considering now adding back a little full fat dairy (e.g. goat's milk yogurt, raw cheese) and a little fruit (mainly berries and grapefruit). I think having fewer 'NO foods' might help. Wondering what experience others with PCOS have had with this? Relief only at super strict elimination of these foods, or…?

    Also I am experiencing some low energy but I'm not sure if it's the elimination of carbs, my suddenly lower level of exercise (I was exercising ~18-20hrs a week previously, now around 4-5 hrs), or something else. What is your experience with this? I thought the 'carb flu' issue would have resolved by now.

    Sorry for the super long post! Thanks all and good luck to you!

  34. says

    Hey there
    Completely loved your article and I have sent this to my friend who is struggling with PCOS and obesity. I hope she can be inspired by your story.
    Thanks for sharing

  35. says

    question….. most pcos folks have a problem with not having their period…… however I will have one for EVER …. like 6 months or longer with maybe a few days off here and there in between. Will this diet work for folks like me? My hubby and I have been trying for a little one for almost nine years and just found out that i had pcos about a year ago. The metformin makes me soooo sick. Should I stick with the met while on this diet or should I drop the meds all together?

    • says

      Clearly you need to run medication tinkering by your doc, but the basics of this approach should help pcos. The metformin is to counter insulin resistance. Nothing helps insulin resistance like paleo.

      • Savannah says

        I was just diagnosed with PCOS and I have been paleo for one year. I also have hashimotos/hypothyroid. My doctor might be giving me metformin, shes checking my hormones one more time but my ultrasound says it all. Is it bad to take metformin? Should I be going lower carb with this despite how active I am? Found out I am sensitive to sweet potatoes too so I’m real nervous about how I am going to get my starchy carb sources.

    • Dani says

      Hi Kristina,

      This diet will definitely help you! Since eating 80% Paleo, my periods went from being up to a month-long to being a manageable week-long. I’m getting back to eating 100% Paleo (I started Whole30 last week) because I have issues getting the rest of my PCOS symptoms under control and I find myself eating too much sugar. Both my chiropractor and my naturopath have wholeheartedly recommended a 100% Paleo diet for me; they say they always recommend this diet for any woman who has any sort of hormonal imbalance, and especially women with PCOS.

      While Paleo will help your body counter your insulin resistance, there is also a supplement you could look into. My chiropractor recommends Myo-Inositol instead of Metformin. I’ve started taking it and am weaning myself off Metformin (with my OBGYN’s permission and help). I’m not trying to conceive at this point in my life, but my chiropractor says her patients have increased ovarian function when they are taking Myo-Inositol. Also, their insulin levels are better controlled with Myo-Inositol. I can personally say I have noticed no negative side effects from Myo-Inositol, but the first few months on Metformin were difficult.

      She also recommends FemmenessencePro, a Maca supplement. I notice I have much more energy when taking FemmenessencePro. Again, as I’m not trying to conceive I can’t really tell you that these items work to restore your fertility, but I would definitely advise asking a chiropractor or a naturopath about them.

      Sorry this is getting so lengthy, but I would also advise you to ask your doctor/naturopath/chiropractor about hormonal testing (if you haven’t already). My hormones were way out of balance and making me miserable. To combat this, I take a naturally derived progesterone pill most days. Your medical doctor or naturopath should be able to test your hormones and help you to get your hormones where they need to be.

      Again, I’m sorry this is so long, but in summary eating Paleo, taking Myo-Inositol (if your medical professional recommends it), and taking a hormone (if needed) should help you get your hormones and insulin back on track and restore your fertility. I’m so sorry you’ve been trying for a child for nine years and I sincerely hope you get the family you and your partner want!

  36. Leslie says

    Kristina the metformin would make me sick too. I’ve been following the Paleo diet for a few weeks and have seen great results. I also take inositiol and N-acetyl-cystine. I took the NAC for asthmatic bronchitis never realizing a higher dose has been showing good results for women with PCOS. A lot of women also report amazing results from taking the myo-inositiol. In fact my friend took it, and after years of trying finally got pregnant. Of course you should always talk to your Dr., but I recommend finding research on the supplements and taking it to your Dr. Many times doctors don’t know about these results. I know mine was surprised by the research. Most importantly follow the paleo diet eating the right foods, and the right kind of carbs will help you. Good luck! I hope it helps.

  37. happy says

    So just found your story. It excited me as I have same story. I thought maybe there is hope! But, looking at you today (4 years later) looks like it didn’t work after all : ( Where’s all da babies?

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