A Dietary Approach to Syndrome X


Staff member
A Dietary Approach to Syndrome X

Katherine Chauncey, Ph.D., R.D.

Associate Professor/Nutritionist
Department of Family & Community Medicine



The Whole Foods Weight Loss Eating Plan

What is Syndrome X?

  • Syndrome X (or the Metabolic Syndrome) refers to a cluster of health-related problems common to persons at risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes
What are the characteristics of the Metabolic Syndrome?

  • Abdominal Obesity: Waist circumference greater than 35" in women and 40" in men
  • Fasting glucose: > 110 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides: > 150 mg/dl
  • HDL Cholesterol: < 50 mg/dl in women; and < 40 mg/dl in men
  • Blood pressure: >130/>85 mmHg
  • Presence of 3 or more characteristics determine metabolic syndrome
What is the Glycemic Index of foods?

  • The Glycemic Index is a system of classifying foods according to the degree to which they raise blood glucose levels
  • It compares the level of glycemia following consumption of equal portions & ranks the foods relative to a standard (usually glucose or white bread)
  • The body's insulin responses tend to follow the rank order of the glycemic response
  • Highest glycemic foods include many starchy foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, and potatoes
  • Lowest glycemic index foods include pasta, relatively unprocessed grains, baked beans, dairy products, most fruits and vegetables
What are the specific benefits of a Low Glycemic Index diet?

  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • The body feels fuller sooner
  • Improved lipid profile
  • Weight loss
  • The body is better able to handle small amounts of high glycemic foods
Why is the modern diet full of high Glycemic Index foods?

  • High consumption of soft drinks, regular and diet
  • Too many salty snacks
  • Too many cookies, both sugary and fat-free
  • Reliance on fast foods, especially that have been "super-sized"
  • A trend toward convenience with microwaveable and processed foods
What is the Whole Foods Weight Loss eating plan?

A diet that
  • Emphasizes low glycemic index foods
  • Encourages phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Emphasizes protective fats and quality protein
  • Encourages decrease in junk foods
  • Allows appetite to be met naturally
What are the principles of the Whole Foods Diet?

  • Lean protein, vegetables, whole fruits
  • Moderate amounts of fat, especially monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats
  • Fish, nuts & cold-pressed unrefined oils such as flaxseed, olive & sesame
  • Carbohydrates should not be from sugar, white flour or other refined grains
  • Minimized fried foods & junk foods
  • Use of a Green Light - Yellow Light - Red Light system to help with food choices
Green Light - "GO"

Unlimited consumption of the following:
  • All non-starchy vegetables
  • All fruits except bananas
  • Lean or low-fat meats, poultry and fish
  • Low-fat or non-fat cheeses
  • Most condiments, sour pickles, consommes, tea, coffee, diet colas
Yellow Light - "CAUTION"

  • 2 cups of skim, 1/2%, or 1% milk
  • 6 servings monounsaturated fat choices
  • Only five carbohydrate (CHO) choices per day:
    • 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup cereals, pasta, rice
    • 1/2 c. starchy veggies; e.g. potatoes, corn, beans
    • 1 small (6”) banana
    • One drink equivalent of beer, wine, or liquor
    • 15 g. total cholesterol from chips, cookies, cake, candy,etc.
Red Light - "STOP"

  • No additional bread or cereals
  • No additional cookies, cake, or pastry (or drop 2 CHO choices)
  • No additional cream gravy or cream soups (or drop 1 CHO choice)
  • No additional sugar, syrup, chocolate, sweets, honey, or jam (or drop 1 CHO choice)
  • No additional alcohol or sugar-sweetened fruit drinks or carbonated beverages
Patient Guidelines

  • Weigh at the beginning of the diet, then once a week or so.
  • Eat three or four meals a day, with only “green light” foods between meals.
  • Drink an 8-oz glass of water 8 times each day.
  • Increase exercise.
  • Achieve a feeling of fullness with "green light" foods rather than targeting a specific calorie level
  • Read food labels carefully.
  • Address your current eating habits--the frequency of eating chips, crackers, cookies, fast foods, soft drinks, snack foods, cakes or desserts
  • Concentrate on the quality of the food rather than the number of calories. Eat whole grains (not just grains), raw or lightly cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, low or nonfat dairy products, and lean cuts of protein foods.
  • Follow the Whole Foods eating plan 90% of the time, with a special treat of a favorite food 10% of the time
  • Be realistic about your weight-loss expectations. Don't expect a "quick fix".
  • The Whole Foods Diet focuses on healthy eating and not deprivation. Healthy eating results in more energy, more restful sleep and a better mood.
  • Look for improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and energy.