The exchange diet is a method of eating that provide diabetic with a set of guidelines necessary to eat healthy. A dietician will help prepare and educate you on the exchange diet – the food groups and what substitutions you can make.
On the exchange diet all foods are divided into six food groups:
- Breads and other Starches
- Dairy Foods
- Meat and Meat Substitutes
Your dietician will provide you with the number of servings you should have from each group daily and at individual meal or snack times. Within each of the categories there are many food options. Each food has a specific serving size that equals one serving, in cases such as fruits and vegetables you probably will not have to measure your foods but for meats and other groups a food scale and measuring cup is recommended.
The exchange part of the diet refers to being able to swap a food in one food group for another in the same group as long as you adhere to the serving suggestion. For instance ½ cup of cooked pasta can be exchanged for 2 rice cakes in one meal. The list your dietician gives you will be pretty complete but there are bound to be items not listed. In that case, you can call your dietician for advice or keep a list of items that you need to know the proper serving size for.
At the beginning the exchange diet may seem like a lot of work, but as time goes on and you become accustomed to the serving sizes of your favorite foods it will become less so. Proper eating habits are crucial to managing diabetes and the exchange diet is a way to eat a healthy balanced diet full of variety.
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