Managing PCOS Over the Holidays

By, Chelsea Fechtner, MScN, CN

The holiday season is in full swing! Whether you’re traveling or staying local, holiday busyness can make it challenging to stick to your health and wellness routines.  Incorporating nourishment and self-care throughout the season is key for continuing to manage PCOS symptoms and feel your best. Below are some strategies to help you stay healthy throughout the rest of the holidays!

Balancing Blood Sugar

Learning how to build a balanced plate can feel empowering as you take part in dinners out, holiday parties and traveling. By no means does every meal need to be perfectly balanced, but pairing carbohydrate foods with protein, fat and fiber is key helpful for keeping your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. Learn more about this balanced approach here!

Avoid All-or-Nothing ThinkingHoliday busyness coupled with treats and indulgent meals can make it challenging to stick to your healthy habits and routines. This being said, you don’t have to put everything on pause until January. Instead, consider each day as a new day; each moment as a new moment; each meal as a new meal. By letting go of all-or-nothing thinking and perfectionism, you can find opportunities to nourish your body no matter what.


  • Nourishment as Self-Care: Take care of yourself by incorporating small acts of nourishment throughout the day. Even small actions can provide a nourishing break to holiday indulgences and travel stress. Start the day with a glass of water and a healthy breakfast, incorporate veggies into your plate, and pack balanced travel snacks.
  • Stay Active: Movement during the holidays will likely be different than your usual routine – but any movement counts! Aim to include at least a 20-minute walk every day and find ways to add movement to family time. Add in a family walk or hike, dance to holiday music, help a family member in the kitchen or go ice skating.
  • You’re in Charge of You: Take a moment to consider what your favorite holiday indulgences are and what aspects of the holidays you look forward to all year long. Enjoy those meals and moments mindfully and know that family comments are inevitable. Sharing food can be a way of expressing love, especially around the holidays. It’s perfectly acceptable to listen to your body’s needs and say no when you don’t actually want those holiday cookies.
  • Prioritize Veggies: Incorporating vegetables into your holiday parties and meals is another great way to bring in balance. Go for the veggie tray on the appetizer table, add a side salad to your dinner, or contribute a veggie side to the holiday meal.

Self-Care & Compassion

Chances are, giving giftings and showing support to friends, family and loved ones throughout the holidays is automatically happening this time of year. But what about caring for yourself? Practicing self-care and compassion often requires a mindset shift since it doesn’t always come automatically. Below are self-care and self-compassion ideas to help you get started! I recommend picking one practice from each category to start and adding on from there.

Self-Compassion Practices:

  • Check-in with yourself regularly by asking:
    • What am I feeling now?
    • What do I need now?
  • Remove judgement about food choices. Food is not “good” or “bad, and often times, the holiday indulgences we look forward to all year are the ones that bring the most guilt. Use your senses to savor your meals and move forward with the rest of your day.
  • Do one thing every day that’s just for you. The holidays are a time for giving and this shouldn’t stop with friends and family. Even five minutes of me-time can greatly impact your day!


Self-Care Practices:

  • Aim to keep a consistent bedtime routine to support quality sleep throughout the holidays. Sleep is essential for decreasing inflammation, balancing hormones and maintaining a strong immune system. Prioritize a bedtime that feels good for you and take time to wind down with a book or calming meditation. If you know your sleep quality is compromised when you’re traveling, consider adding in a sleep supportive supplement like melatonin or magnesium. Including 5mg of melatonin and 200-400mg of magnesium glycinate will help with falling asleep quickly and staying asleep throughout the night. Note that melatonin is not recommended during pregnancy.
  • Incorporate your favorite stress management techniques wherever possible! A few calming ideas are taking deep belly breaths, lying flat with your legs up a wall, walking outdoors with calming music or taking an Epsom salt bath.
  • Add in movement, ideally daily! Movement is a key component of PCOS management because it helps reduce stress, lowers inflammation, supports insulin sensitivity, and can help with cholesterol management.

Overall, these strategies are meant to support your well-being as you navigate the holiday season and whatever comes along with it. Pick a couple of ideas to incorporate into your routine and remember that it’s ok if your wellness practices don’t look perfect this time of year!

December 14, 2021

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