Making some lifestyle changes can prevent metabolic syndromethus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks, stroke) and type 2 diabetes. The goal of these lifestyle changes is to control the underlying metabolic disorders that are risk factors to developing metabolic syndrome.

Making even modest lifestyle changes can have a significant impact. For persons who are overweight or who have diabetes , moderately increasing physical activity, losing 10% of your weight or more, and changing your eating habits will all have a significant impact. For example, exercise may help to reduce insulin resistance.

It is important to set modest, attainable goals for yourself. Start by making small changes (eg, modest weight loss goals, small changes in eating habits) instead of trying to change everything all at once. You will be more successful and will continue to progress more easily.

Lifestyle changes you can make include:

Lower Your Weight

  • Find a weight loss program that is right for you.
  • Lose weight slowly and steadily and plan ways to maintain the weight loss. Aim to lose approximately 10% of the original weight in the next 6 to 12 months.
  • Monitor your weight.
  • Improve your eating habits.
    • Sit down at the table for your meals.
    • Focus on your food; don’t do other activities (drive, read, watch TV, talk on the phone, or work on the computer) while you eat.
    • Don’t wait until you are completely full before you stop eating.
    • Don’t eat because you are bored, tired, stressed, or sad.

Eat a Healthy Diet

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut down on drinking juice. Ask your doctor if the Mediterranean diet is right for you.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat.
  • Avoid fast foods.
  • Bake, broil, or grill your poultry, fish or meat rather than frying it.
  • Do not add salt to your food.
  • Cut down on saturated fats (fats usually found in animal products and that raise cholesterol).
  • Choose whole grain foods (whole wheat bread, brown rice) instead of refined or processed foods (white bread, white rice).
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods (beans, fruits, vegetables).
  • Eat less sugar.
  • Eat fewer carbohydrates and other starchy foods.
  • Limit or eliminate soda and other sugary drinks.

Increase Your Physical Activity

  • Exercise a little each day. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise.
  • Commit yourself to more physical activity. Join a health club or plan walks with friends.
  • Incorporate increased activity into your daily habits.
    • Park further away in the parking lot of the mall or supermarket.
    • Use the stairs rather than the elevator.
    • Get up to turn the TV channel rather than using the remote control.
    • Do small exercises such as leg lifts or stomach tucks while sitting around the house or when you can't sleep at night.

See Your Doctor

  • Get regular physical check-ups with and support from your physician.
  • You and your doctor should monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
  • Get counseling on a diet and exercise program that is right for you.

Stop Smoking

  • Ask your doctor to suggest programs and/or medications to help you quit .

Avoid Excess Alcohol Intake

  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
    • One or fewer alcoholic beverages per day for women
    • Two or fewer alcoholic beverages per day for men

Avoid Medications That Increase Lipids

  • Talk to your doctor about the medications that you are taking. Some can raise lipid levels, such as certain birth control pills and beta blockers.

Control Your Stress Level

Stress can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Learn relaxation and stress management techniques.