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Exchanges Key to Diabetes Management



Most people with diabetes work closely with their care team to create
a meal plan that helps guide them in selecting the right kinds of food in
the proper amounts. But knowing how those foods affect your body is an
important part of controlling blood sugar levels.

For some people, keeping their blood sugar in check is as simple as
eating three regular meals a day and avoiding too many sweets. For others,
a more rigid food plan including the recommended number of servings
from each food group is the only way they can stay on track.

No matter which approach is right for you, the dietary exchange
system is a useful tool for managing your diabetes.

The dietary exchange system features three groups of foods. Each
group includes a list of foods. Each group includes a list of foods that are
similar in carbohydrate, calorie, protein and/or fat content to all other
foods on the same list. Each day you make up meal plans by selecting
the recommended number of servings from each group.

The groups include:

• Carbohydrates: includes starches, fruits, milk, vegetables

• Meats: including meat substitutes and featuring lists of very lean,
lean, medium fat and high fat meats

• Fats: including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated
fat lists

Foods guidelines are portioned to measure and control calories, carbohydrates

and other nutrients. An exchange equals one portion of any
food type. You can exchange or trade foods within a group because they
are similar in nutrient content and how they affect blood sugar.

A dietitian can help you learn to use the exchange list to guide your
daily meal plan. They can recommend the proper number of servings from
each food group based on your individual needs.

The exchange list can also be a helpful tool in discovering how your
favorite recipes fit into the meal plan. By using the following steps, you
can find out the number of exchanges each serving of a recipe provides:

• List all of the ingredients and their amounts in the recipe

• For each ingredient, write down the number of exchanges it provides.
Most diabetes cookbooks contain a list of exchange values of commonly
used ingredients. Patients can also ask their dietitian for the list

• Total each exchange group

• Divide the total number of exchanges for each group by the number
of servings in the recipe and round off to the nearest 1/2 exchange

Whether you use the exchange list to help adhere to a strict diet or to
see how a certain recipe will fit into your plan, it is an important tool for
controlling your blood sugar levels. Ask you doctor, dietitian or Diabetes
Shoppe pharmacist about the exchange list and how to use it to make
your meal planning simple.

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