Top tips for managing Christmas with PCOS

8 min
Updated Oct 31st, 2023

Here we go again; it’s the season of festivities, parties and over-indulgence! Hallmark Christmas movies have us imagining twinkling fairy lights, powdery snow and Dickensian-style streets, while friends and family gather round for Christmas cheer. 

But for many with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Christmas can be far from idyllic. It can actually be a tricky time to navigate and can result in worsening symptoms. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips on how you can manage Christmas with PCOS.

Why is Christmas difficult for those with PCOS?

Many who are living with PCOS manage it day-to-day by maintaining a supportive diet and exercise routine. Christmas throws a candy cane in the works. Social engagements mean meals at different times of the day or skipped entirely. There are late nights, less sleep, party food (the temptation of sugary treats and alcohol), different hosts, days filled with busyness and no time to exercise. All these changes can wreak havoc with your hormones. 

The festive season can also make you feel more self-conscious, with many feeling under pressure to look perfect for a Christmas party when trying to hide insecurities about facial hair or weight gain. Then there are the prying questions about fertility and future family plans from family members who should know better…  

How can you stay healthy at Christmas with PCOS?

It’s vital to put your mental and physical health first or you risk worsening your PCOS symptoms. For a PCOS-friendly Christmas, you need to allow yourself to be flexible, communicate your limitations, and adjust your expectations. What’s more, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle without missing out on all the fun! 

Stay physically active

There are ways to get in some exercise within the Christmas period. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to be on an exercise bike after every mince pie, but there are lots of Christmas-related physical activities. A brisk Christmas morning walk will get your metabolism going. And if you fancy some company on a larger scale, many Park Runs are open on Christmas Day and throughout the festive season – and you can walk, jog or run. An organised event like this can really boost your spirits too. You can also arrange to meet a group of friends for a walk or exercise session. It’s typical at this time of year to catch up with friends over pub drinks, but how about you swap it to a fun gym class with a post-workout brunch? 

Walking helps with PCOS symptoms as it increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Try Christmassy walks through stately homes and botanic gardens and you can also get in plenty of steps while Christmas shopping, walking around a Christmas market or on a city break. If you want some more ideas on PCOS-specific exercise, take a look at our blog post on the best exercises for PCOS

Plan out your meals for the festive period

Christmas fare is full of sugary food and drinks which spike insulin levels and therefore increase the levels of androgens in the blood. Excess androgens result in weight gain around the middle, oily skin, acne and facial hair growth. You want to be able to enjoy some Christmas treats, but alternate them with some healthy snacks. For example, vegetable crudités with a hummus dip makes a delicious pre-Christmas dinner snack. And before you go to a Christmas party, eat a protein-rich snack. If you’re on the move, many supermarket chains sell protein pots with things like avocado, boiled egg, chicken and sliced apples to dip in peanut butter. Pop some fruit and nuts in your handbag in case you need a boost on your way home. 

Also ensure that you never skip breakfast, even if you’re getting up later than usual in the Christmas holidays. Going without breakfast can upset your blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling tired and more likely to reach for unhealthy food later in the day! Make sure you eat well at breakfast, something substantial like an omelette or some porridge. If you need some inspiration for meals over the festive period, take a look at our PCOS diet recipes.

Have alcohol-free days

You need to drink in moderation with PCOS; PCOS and alcohol aren’t the best of friends. This is because alcohol = sugar, which again will trigger PCOS symptoms. Not to mention that feeling hungover the next day will make you crave unhealthy foods and feel low. 

Don’t drink on an empty stomach as this will spike your insulin levels and upset your hormones. Here’s where the ‘carry a healthy snack’ tip comes in again. If you are caught out at work drinks, reach for the fruit and nuts in your handbag or keep some in your desk drawer in the office. Also, drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have. And avoid overly sugary drinks like sweet cocktails and syrupy liqueurs. 

To drink less alcohol over the festive season, plan ahead and incorporate alcohol-free days. Even if they coincide with a party, you’ll be surprised at how many others at the party won’t be drinking alcohol for varying reasons. Just be careful not to substitute alcohol for a sugary non-alcoholic drink! 

Get plenty of sleep

For a healthy hormone balance, you need regular, high-quality sleep, which helps to reduce insulin resistance. This can be difficult to achieve over the Christmas period, but if you’re aware of it, you can maintain a balance. Take an early night when and where you can. Banish devices such as smartphones at least an hour before you go to sleep as the blue light emitting from the screen can disrupt your sleep

If you’re staying the night in a noisy household, plan ahead and take earplugs and a white noise machine. And involve others in helping you to get to bed on time! If they know and understand, they can suggest waiting until the following night for that next episode on Netflix. 

Don’t forget to take your PCOS supplements

If you have PCOS, managing your symptoms with the right supplements is vital. Myo-inositol supports the activity of a number of hormones in your body and reduces insulin resistance (which in turn reduces testosterone and other androgen levels). It is likely to already be in your diet, but those with PCOS need to supplement this important nutrient. However, taking myo-inositol alone can be a problem as almost 40% of those with PCOS do not absorb myo-inositol very well. The solution is to take it with another supplement called alpha-lactalbumin, an active ingredient in Inofolic Alpha.

Over Christmas your usual routine may be a bit out of whack so set a reminder on your phone if you think you might be liable to forget with a change in daily routine. 

For the best results, myo-inositol should be taken for at least three months and continued for as long as necessary.

Be mindful of your stress levels

Managing your stress effectively helps to keep your hormones in balance. Stress triggers an increase in circulating androgens in the blood and this, together with increased cortisol, will leave you feeling exhausted and low. Christmas can be a very stressful time for many and there are so many instances where you could feel more anxious than usual. Perhaps you’re hosting and feel overwhelmed by the number of household jobs. Or perhaps you’re feeling lonely or you’re grieving and Christmas makes you feel worse. Even just going from one social engagement to another can add to your stress. Then there are financial concerns which might be adding to your seasonal burden. 

You need to be aware of the way stress can affect your PCOS symptoms and plan accordingly to avoid situations you will find stressful. Factor in time to rest within your diary and don’t plan too many events close together. Perhaps limit festive activities to one day over a weekend and have the other day to rest. 

Enjoy yourself!

Finally, enjoy yourself! Christmas brings plenty of fun and this is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. Taking part in rituals such as Christmas Day can make you feel good. Happy childhood memories are powerful and hearing an old, familiar carol or taking part in a family tradition can help you to relax. Gratitude is also an important part of feeling good about yourself. Take the time to connect and reconnect with your friends and family and consider all that you’re thankful for. 

Christmas is a time of year which can be fraught with potential issues for those with PCOS. But simply by thinking ahead and planning, you can avoid any disruption and enjoy the festive season as much as possible. 


Shechter, Ari et al. 2017 Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 96, January 2018, Pages 196-202

Giallauria, F et al. 2007. Beneficial Effects of a Three-Month Structured Exercise Training Program on Cardiopulmonary Functional Capacity in Young Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 92, Issue 4. 1 April 2007. Pages 1,379–1,384

Sunita M.C. et al. 2016. Metabolic syndrome, diet and exercise. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Volume 37. November 2016. Pages 140-151

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