At Charlotte’s Book, we’re in awe of anyone who takes control of their life, health, and well-being—especially when the results are as dramatic as Nicole Granato‘s, a Charlotte’s Book Expert Holistic Nutritionist. She suffered severe hormone imbalances in her early twenties, and doctors weren’t helping: as a newly-trained nutritionist, she took matters into her own hands, determined to re-align her body. This is her story, plus tips on how you can re-balance your health and hormones.
Charlotte’s Book: How were you diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
Nicole Granato: I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 22, from what was supposed to be a general check up. I always had a problem menstruating properly but assumed it was the stress of being in my early 20s.
What is PCOS?
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome a disorder in which women generally have a hormonal imbalance, irregular periods, weight gain, cysts on one or both ovaries, and, because of hormonal imbalance, significant effects on appearance, including severe acne and accentuated body/facial hair.
How is it treated?
There are currently about 3.8 million women suffering from this disorder in the U.S. This means 1 in 5 women are diagnosed with PCOS. This is an issue affecting women as young as 15 years old. Most of these women are told to take drugs, eat healthy and given a prescription.
How did you treat it?
I decided to take a holistic health approach, and this is what happened: I have always been what I would call healthy. I grew up in a very health conscious house as a child and continued to live a very similar lifestyle throughout my teens and early 20s. I went though a hard time in my life around the age of 20 where I suffered from a lot of anxiety, depression and had started to notice weight gain and consistent pain in my pelvis. My periods were very irregular and came only three times a year. I just assumed it was my anxiety and stress that was throwing me off.
At age 21, I began my studies into Holistic Nutrition and quickly became fascinated with Infertility and Pregnancy. I have always wanted to have children and be a mom. I started my research young , and when I learned that infertility was something so many women suffer from, I began to research even further. I was even more shocked that there were different tiers of infertility ranging from unexplained infertility, Endometriosis, PCOS and so on. I started to dive a bit deeper into side effects, cures, and holistic remedies when I realized I had similar symptoms to PCOS.
I went to my gynecologist and asked for an ultrasound of my ovaries to check for cysts. Unfortunately it showed I had many. I broke into tears—I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I had 7 cysts on my ovaries, but I had healthy looking eggs.
I asked my doctor what this meant for me in terms of having children someday and the symptoms I had. He proceeded to tell me that my chances of having kids naturally was slim; there is always IVF, hormone therapy, and adoption. My heart broke again.
How did you react?
I wondered how this was even possible—I was healthy, young and willing to do anything. Hearing that there was nothing I could do but start to take birth control and come to him once a year before I wanted to get pregnant was really what made me so upset. I spent days dwelling in sadness and thoughts of what it would be like to never conceive naturally. I was never prepared for that and I still wasn’t.
What made it harder was that I didn’t know anybody going through the same thing. I couldn’t talk to anybody who knew what it felt like, who had the same worries or who could give me advice on what to do. Days went by and weeks where I thought to myself this cannot be. I refuse to accept this! I went into crunch mode. I decided I was going to fix this myself. I was not going to let someone tell me there is nothing I could do.
Could you describe your new regimen?
I focused first on balancing my hormones and then went to clearing any candida that may be lingering in my body. Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast. It’s not like a regular yeast infection, as candida can linger in the body without much notice. To clear any potential yeast I drank an apple cider vinegar tonic two times daily and cut out all processed and refined sugars. I changed my exercises to more nourishing exercises like Pilates, Yoga, light jogging and hour long walks. I made a routine and added new superfoods to my diet and remained positive.
I AVOIDED THESE FOODS:
- White Flour/Bread
- Most fruits
- Energy or flavored drinks
- Fried anything
- Any oil besides Coconut and Olive for cooking
- Cereal (Contains a lot of sugar)
I ATE THESE FOODS:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Wild Salmon
- Whole Grains
- Almond Milk (CB note: updated Almond Milk Smoothie recipe is great, too)
- Anything with Lemon
- Herbs and herbal blends for hormone balancing
What were the results?
After five months of these lifestyle changes, I actually cured myself of PCOS. I had no cysts on my ovaries, my hormones were balanced and I had my period for four months straight. I was officially undiagnosed with this disorder. Not only was I undiagnosed, but I also experienced more energy, clearer skin and a regular menstrual cycle.
I started helping women from all parts of the country. I want to help women not just clear their PCOS but feel confident, supported, understood and loved during their struggle with this disorder. I have now worked with women all over the world from the U.S to New Zealand, Australia, and London who all usually have one thing in common: they feel like nobody can relate or understand what they are going through.
Would you recommend this to other women?
While I am not a fertility doctor or fertility specialist, my personal story is proof that lifestyle and wellness habits can dramatically change your health. We all know that, but we don’t always implement it. Remember that health is a relationship between you and your mind, body, heart and soul. Using food as medicine and recognizing that everyone has their own individual dietary needs is what ultimately brings change.