A calorie diabetic diet means keeping a balance of calorie intake throughout the day. The exchange system is a way of diet planning in which you can control the amounts of nutrients throughout the day. Also you can have variety and flexibility in your meal plans with the help of exchange system. This system gives you calorie count in the foods. Based on the amounts of calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates present in foods all foods are divided into six groups. Depending upon calorie requirements you have to choose exchanges from each group. A serving of food within each group is approximately equal (not necessarily identical) in calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, because of this you can exchange the foods within the group. But exchanging the foods from one group to another group is not allowed.
The exchange groups are starch and bread, vegetable, milk, fruit, meat and fat. While exchanging vegetables always remember that you cannot exchange starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables because starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes etc. are included in starch and bread group while vegetables group contains all non-starchy vegetables. This is little bit confusing but once you are familiar with the exchange system it is very easy to plan calorie diets. While planning a diet one more thing you should follow and that is never eliminate a complete exchange group from your daily meal plan. By including foods from all groups into your daily meal plan you will get essential vitamins, minerals, and calories. The exchange calorie diet is also useful for weight reduction.
You can plan a perfect calorie diet with exchange system only when you know your calorie requirements. First calculate your calorific needs with the help of registered dietitian or doctor then choose the foods from exchange lists to fulfill those calorie requirements. The calorie need depends upon individual health, age and nature of diabetes; it may be 1200, 1800, or 2500 calories per day.
A 2500 calorie exchange diet contains 12 exchanges from starch and bread group, four exchanges from vegetable group, three exchanges from milk group, seven from fruit group, eight exchanges from meat group and eight from fat group. Since exchange group contains all the information about which food in what quantity contains how much calories, it is easy to plan any calorie diabetic diet.
There are two more categories in exchange food system; free foods and combination foods. Free foods contain less than 20 calories or 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving. If you select three or less servings per day from these food lists, you do not need to count these foods. Free foods are diet soft drinks, spices, sugar-free gelatin, soy sauce etc. There is one more food list which contains mixed (combination) foods. The exchange system provides the information about combination foods but your dietitian can help you to figure out how to count exchanges for such foods. Some examples are; 1/4 of a 10 inch pizza contains two carbohydrates, two medium-fat meats and one fat exchange, one cup macaroni and cheese contain two carb exchanges and two medium-fat meat exchanges.
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