Ria is a 24-year-old woman working with an MNC in Mumbai. A native of Surat, she spends over 10 hours at work crunching complex data and presenting it to important people, and another two in commute. Most days she brings a lot of her work home. A product of the sedentary digital age, Ria has Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD).
It was after she had missed her periods for three consecutive months and gained a couple of kilos that she consulted a gynecologist. Now armed with expert advice and internet research, she knows what to do — eat healthy and exercise regularly — but considering her lifestyle, she fails at it most days despite earnest attempts.
Ria is not the only one. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that PCOD, an endocrine disorder, impacted 116 million women worldwide. A study conducted the same year by Metropolis Healthcare, a global chain of pathology laboratories, claimed that over 18% of women in India had the syndrome (PCOS).
The leading cause of ovulatory infertility, PCOD is commonly marked by irregular periods, hair fall, weight gain, facial hair and acne. Prevalent among women of childbearing age, the disorder makes them vulnerable to diabetes, sleep apnea and complications in conceiving and delivering a child.
Need for awareness
Though the US spends over $4 billion every year in identifying and managing PCOS, there is no such initiative in India yet. In fact, most women still remain unaware of the problem and how it can be tackled.
“Women take erratic menstruation lightly. Most think it is okay to miss periods for two-three months. It is not. It’s dangerous to let the lining of uterus build up. You need to see a gynecologist if your periods are delayed by over two weeks,” says Dr Shivani Gour, gynecologist and IVF expert at the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, Delhi.
What you can do
So how can working women living away from their homes — those who cannot religiously follow a balanced diet or go to a gym — prevent and manage PCOD?
Gynecologists and fertility experts in the Capital say managing the disorder is an achievable feat with a few tweaks in lifestyle, food habits and a health-first approach.
Tricks to quick and healthy eating: It may not be possible for you to have home-cooked meals every time but try to have a nutritious breakfast and one healthy meal through the day, advises Dr Anita Gupta, unit head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at Max Smart Superspeciality Hospital, Saket.
Here’s a low-down on easy ways to make your diet greener and wholesome:
• Cut your carbohydrate intake and consume more proteins. Make milk, cereals, soya and pulses a regular on your dining table.
• Try to eat egg white every day.
• Make sprouts (moong, beans, chana) and salad a staple. Divide your fruits and greens in five servings and eat through the day.
• Have milk preferably with a cereal (cornflakes, muesli and oats are great options).
• Replace fried with roasted.
• Avoid packaged, processed and fast foods like the plague.
• Cut down on white sugar, white bread and maida consumption.
• Though fruits are healthy but leave out mangoes, bananas, grapes and chickoos. They have high sugar content.
• You’ve got to limit your alcohol intake. Quit drinking if you can. The idea is to maintain a healthy weight and liquor doesn’t help the cause.
Fitness hacks: Considering your time constraints, you may not be able to work out in a gym daily but that should be no excuse. You need to exercise for at least 40 minutes every day, says Dr Birbala Rai, gynecologist at Pushpawati Singhania Hospital & Research Institute, Sheikh Sarai II.
Here’s how you can do it. Though there is nothing novel about the ways mentioned below, but they are as effective as ever.
• Pick stairs over elevators and escalators.
• Take tea/coffee breaks or brief strolls every hour or so.
• Buy a treadmill if possible. That way you can jog/run in your own space and time.
• Walk as much as you can — to your nearest bus stop, metro station, departmental store or when you are on a call.
• There are several yoga tutorials available online. Pick one that suits you best and practise as per your convenience. All you need is a laptop/smartphone/tablet, a floor mat and a decent internet connection.
Bonus tip: Women with PCOD need vitamin D a little more than others. Though it is found in limited quantities in certain foods (fatty fish, dairy products, orange juice, cereals, egg yolk), sunlight is still its biggest source. Morning walks and certain vitamin D supplements can help, says Dr Gour.
PCOD can be controlled or managed but never treated. The only way to fight the disorder is by making these conscious choices everyday habits.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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