Diabetic Diet Exchanges – Add Variety to Your Diabetic Diet

Using diabetic diet exchanges gives you the assurance that you are getting the proper mix of calories, carbohydrates, and other important nutrients.

Meeting with a registered dietician will help you follow proper diabetic diet guidelines and using the diabetic diet exchanges you better control your blood sugar levels.

A brief history of diabetic diet exchanges

"In the 1950s, the American Diabetes Association, in conjunction with the U.S. Public Health Service, brought forth the "exchange scheme". This was a scheme that allowed people to swap foods of similar nutritional value (e.g. carbohydrate) for another, so, for example, if wishing to have more than normal carbohydrates for dessert, one could cut back on potatoes in one's first course."(1)

Today diabetic exchange lists are better developed with foods grouped in main types, which include starches, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, milk, meats, sweets, fats and free foods.

In each group, you will find various foods that you can exchange or trade while keeping calorie and carbohydrate amounts about the same. Food items found within a group have similar nutritional value and affect your blood sugar levels in similar ways.

Summary of diabetic diet exchanges

Diabetic exchange lists are broken down into food groups. Below is a summary of the different groups:

  • Starchy food exchanges include breads, cereals and grains, starchy vegetables, crackers and snacks; beans, peas and lentils.
  • Fruit exchanges include fresh, dried, and canned (unsweetened) fruit, or fruit juice.
  • Milk exchanges include fat-free and low-fat milk and yogurt products, reduced-fat milk and yogurt products, and whole milk and yogurt products.
  • Meat exchanges include lean meat and meat substitutes, medium-fat and high-fat meats and meat substitutes. A variety of plant based foods are also found in this food group.
  • Sweets exchanges include sugary beverages, brownies, cakes, cookies, pie, pudding, doughnuts, muffins, sweet breads, ice cream, frozen desserts, candy, spreads and syrups.
  • Fat exchanges include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats.
  • Nonstarchy vegetables include a variety of green, leafy and non-starchy vegetables typically found on salads or as side dishes.
  • Free food exchanges include beverages, condiments, seasonings, and other non-categorized foods.

Following diabetic diet exchanges allows you to add variety to your diet while at the same time assuring you that you are consuming the right amounts of calories, carbohydrates and other important nutrients.

(1) Wikipedia (2010). Diabetic diet. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetic_diet

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