What can I do with diet to treat my metabolic syndrome?

Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D.
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Metabolic syndrome is a side effect of many antipsychotic medicines which makes it very difficult to control with diet alone. However, what you eat can make a difference. Choose foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables. Canned fruit in water or its own juice can provide some sweetness without adding a lot of calories. It can also be frozen by just putting in plastic containers and making juice pops. Popcorn without added fat and salt is another good snack choice. Also watch what you drink. Beverages can add a lot of extra calories. Carry a water bottle around with you. For a sweet drink add just a little juice to water. Be careful when shopping. Do not buy high fat, high sugar foods. If they are not in the house, you can't eat them.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Metabolic syndrome is treated with medications, weight loss, and physical activity guided by a multidisciplinary healthcare team. Reducing calories in your diet is an effective way for most people to lose weight to treat metabolic syndrome. Choose nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy and reduced saturated fat, sodium and sugar in processed and packaged snack foods. A registered dietitian can estimate your energy needs and plan meals for weight loss.

If you have metabolic syndrome, you should follow a low-carbohydrate diet. People with metabolic syndrome also have high risk for coronary disease.

The goal of treatment is to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Your health care provider will recommend lifestyle changes and/or medicines to help reduce your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar. Dietary Recommendations include: Lose weight. The initial goal is to lose between 7 to 10 percent of your current weight. This generally means that you need to eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories per day; Lower your cholesterol by limiting saturated fat in the diet, and replacing processed grain products with whole grains (whole wheat flours, whole grain cereals, etc.); Lower your blood pressure by limiting salt and alcohol, and adding lots of fruits and vegetables. To learn the basics of eating with metabolic syndrome, and become a pro at planning healthy meals for yourself or family members, ask your health care provider for a referral to a registered dietitian.

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Some people seem to believe the metabolic syndrome is the result of modern lifestyle choices. So, let's talk about some healthy lifestyle choices I learned from my mother years ago.

a). Eat a diet with plenty of fiber (beans, fruit, legumes, vegetables and whole grains):

  • Male 14-50 years: 38 grams a day
  • 51 years and over: 30 grams a day
  • Female 14-18 years: 26 grams a day
  • 19-50 years: 25 gams a day
  • 51 years and over: 21 grams a day

b). Drink plenty of water (30 cc's per kilogram of body weight for healthy Americans).

c). Limit or avoid alcohol intake (moderation is one drink for a female or two drinks for a male per day).

d). Limit saturated fat intake (Food products from animals or coconut), between 7 to 10 percent of daily caloric needs.

e). Identify the serving size of all foods you select and learn to gradually limit consumption to that amount.

f). Limit intake of processed food and foods containing added sugar.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.