PCOS & Hostel Life

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Independence, Fun time with friends and Excitement to make priceless memories for life- this is what one looks forward to in their Hostel Life. For women moving to different cities could mean experiencing different cultures, change in food habits, significant routine changes in life if moving out of their parents’ house , and all of this could require some significant time to adjust which one might only realise after a few months. Let’s accept, we are too excited to plan for our new lives, who would want to think about PCOS or hormonal imbalance!

Now the fact is that, PCOS has started to affect girls as young as 13 years of age, yes you read that right. Infact girls of age between 16 to 22 years are most susceptible to develop PCOS which could be due to the dependence on junk food, processed or canned foods, unhealthy greasy canteen food, sedentary lifestyle, and of-course dealing with unspoken social pressure!

Have you ever wondered how our mothers and grandmothers never had PCOS, some of them haven’t even heard about this disorder; they also went to college or hostels!!

‘Their lives’ back then were not as busy as ‘Ours’! Even when they used to go to hostel but without mobile phones and Netflix, they had more time in hand to spend on themselves, had much more sound sleep, spent quality time with friends, and hence there were able to manage stress well. They used to walk more and had comparatively more active lifestyle than us. And therefore, they could easily digest the gluten and dairy based products. You can watch our video on how dairy affects our hormones here.

Now in our case, we are living more sedentary lifestyle with some added stress we don’t realise but the food we eat is still is the same as what are parents ate. With our lifestyle gluten based, meat based  and dairy based products , can get very hard on our stomach to digest. Its important to know that the food we eat if not digested well can turn into toxins in our bodies and could lead to so called ‘Lifestyle disorder’ such as PCOS. And note that Gut health has a major role to play. If your gut isn’t supplied with food it can easily digest, it can mess up your hormones big time!

Long story short – bad food choices could result in poor gut health leading to hormonal imbalances, and with no active physical movement, social pressure and other stress factors, could result in hormonal imbalances!

Coming to the problem that what can you do if you have PCOS or you want to take active measures to have healthy periods? For most of you who have been following me would have understood by now that a symptomatic treatment for PCOS i.e. focused treatment only for acne , or for hairfall, or for missing periods or fatigue ,might NOT be very sustainable because it is very important to address the ROOT CAUSE which could be either ‘bad diet’ or ‘no exercise’ or too much stress or it could be combination of either of these which are causing these symptoms for you.

Below are a few lifestyle tips which you could follow if you live in a hostel or away from family!

I. Diet:

a. Make smart choices on how you put that canteen/ mess food on your plate. While selecting food pick more raw salad and water rich foods on your plate from the buffet. More salad means more nutrients, more fibre to aid digestion and better gut health. Have a small bowl of salad for lunch & dinner before your main meal. Have more sabji option on plate. If you are ordering food in canteen try to look for Gluten free options such as Dosa or idli, snacks such as dry bhel or dhokla!

b. Start your mornings with hot water with lemon. You can also have 1 tablespoon Apple cider Vinegar with warm water. Apple cider vinegar can be easily stored in hostel or PG Shelf!

c. For Mid meals- Store a big box of nuts in your room, you can also mix some makhanas, some seeds and make a trail mix. You don’t want that chips packet to mess up your gut! Before you get Hangry between the meals, keep your stash ready! You can also carry a seasonal fruit in your bag for easy access instead of hogging on that canteen samosa and feeling guilty later on! No harm stocking 1 or 2 fresh fruit in your room regularly.

d. A great tip could be investing in a personal size, portable hand blender ( sooo many options on amazon) to make a smoothie breakfast ( read recipe here) which you can make it in your own room and could start your day with a bang! Also, overnight oats breakfast could work great, which doesn’t even require cooking. Please avoid that packaged, sugary corn flakes!

e. You can carry your spearmint tea brewed in a Steel flask to sip through your lectures. Will help reduce the cravings, increase your water intake as well! Stock some natural herbs such as lavender, chamomile, jasmine which you can brew and have before you hit the pillow at night!

f. Sugar cravings: Avoid sugar based sweet snacks and instead stock up on homemade gluten free laddoos or you can have some jaggery in moderation. You can also stock up on some Dark chocolate (above 70%) can be great for your cravings, it’s an amazing source of antioxidants. you could find our quick guide on ‘how to read healthy product labels’ useful as well while shopping for your essentials.

II. Exercise: You don’t need a gym to reverse PCOS. Yoga can be your best bet, all you need is a mat and can be easily done paired up with some strength based workouts. If you have sometime before you hit your hostel this summer, do think about investing time to learn yoga from a professional which you could practice while you are away from home. If there is no option to take up a sport then you must consider taking light walks for a few minutes after your meals to ensure your muscles get some movement. These exercises can be easily implemented during the ‘Exam Times’ too to reduce that added stress!

III. Stress Management: Living away from the family and friends in hostel or PG can get depressing sometime. Ensure to make a support system around you with regular connect with family and friends. Use that video call more often. Include some ‘me time‘ to read a book , listen to music or things which help you connect with yourself! If you feel that the stress is major cause of your PCOS and you are not able to manage on your own, do consider professional help seeking consultations from a therapist or a coach.! We recently interviewed a renowned psychotherapist to get some tips to manage stress which you can watch here.

IV. Regular tests: Mostimportantly, get yourself checked atleast twice a year to see if your PCOS hasn’t advanced. Check for nutritional deficiencies, consult a nutritionist to check if you require any immediate supplements to correct deficiencies in case your daily food will not be able to cover for those missing nutrients.

Lastly, be happy and don’t stress if you have PCOS. Hostel life is temporary so enjoy it while implementing the above quick tips, practice more and more self -love and surround yourself with positive vibes! Hope you find these tips useful and applicable in your daily hostel life!

Share your thoughts and advice with this PCOS community on how you are able to manage PCOS in your hostels and colleges!