how to use the exchange list for diabetes diets

Diet plays an important role in the management of diabetes. Exchange list is used to plan a balanced diabetic diet. The main goal of the exchange lists is to maintain the proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet. So, how to maintain this balance? Well, a diabetes doctor or nutrition expert can guide you in this.

Before developing diet menus for a patient, the doctor first studies his/her dietary requirements. The dietary requirement means the number of calories a person needs per day. It may be 1200 calories, 1500 calories, or 1800 calories per day. It varies from person to person and depends upon many factors such as age, weight, exercise capacity and nature of diabetes. Once you determine your calorific needs you can design a meal plan for each day that will fulfill your calorific requirements.

There are some general rules that help when you use exchange lists for your meal planning, these are as follows:

The exchange lists are group of six different lists of foods grouped according to similar calorie content. These are starch/bread, fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and fats. From each food list you can select a certain number of exchanges.

The amount and type of these exchanges depends on daily exercise, timing of insulin injections, your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level.

In this system foods can be exchanged within an exchange list but not between the lists even though they carry the same calorie count. In all lists except the fruit list choices can be doubled or tripled to supply a serving of certain foods.

In this exchange lists some foods are “free”. Free foods contain less than 20 calories per serving and you can eat it in any amount unless a serving size is specified.

The six categories of exchange system are:

Starches/Breads: Under this list each exchange of food contains 15 grams of carbohydrates; 3 grams of proteins and a trace of fat, the total amount of calories are 80. The rule is a half cup of cooked cereal, pasta, or grain equals to one exchange and one ounce of a bread product equals to one serving.

Fruits: In this list each exchange contains 15 grams of carbohydrates means 60 calories. All fruits contain sugar and sugar should not be more than 10% of daily carbohydrates.

Vegetables: Under this list exchanges for vegetables are 1/2 cup juice, 1/2 cup cooked and one cup raw vegetables. Each exchange contains 5 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of proteins and fibers. Fresh vegetables are always better than canned vegetables because canned vegetables are high in sodium.

Milk and substitutes: A milk exchange is usually one cup or 8 ounces. This group contains low-fat and skim milk products, while whole milk group is avoided.

Meat: Exchange sizes of the meat list are one ounce and it is based on cooked or raw meat. 3 ounces of cooked meat equals to 4 ounces of raw meat. This group is further categorized as lean meat, low fat, medium fat and high fat meat.

Fats: A fat exchange equals to one teaspoon. Saturated and Trans fatty acids should be avoided and instead of that choose poly-saturated or mono-saturated fats.

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