How to Choose Your Foods Exchange Lists For Diabetes

How to Choose Your Foods Exchange Lists For Diabetes
Page content

Diabetes Exchange List

A food exchange list allows diabetics to switch out specific foods based on the nutrient content, calories and carbohydrates. A custom diet lists how much of each type of food a diabetic can have during a day. The diet helps control and regulate blood glucose levels, while addressing other health goals. The choose your foods exchange lists for diabetes gives the diabetic the option to select a different food with similar nutrients and affects on blood glucose levels. A dietician will help design an exchange list based on specific needs of each individual. Several factors are considered when making the list, including the amount of physical activity, weight loss goals, daily diabetes medications, blood pressure and cholesterol.

General Guidelines

The American Dietetic Association food exchange list is based on food groups: starch, milk, meat, fruit, vegetable, fat and free foods. Each group has a set number of servings that you can eat each day. For example, on a 1500-calorie diet, the list includes 8 starches, 5 meat, 3 vegetable, fruit and fat, and 2 milk. You have the option to switch foods within a list, but not between lists. The option to multiply servings of one food to reach the daily goal is allowed as well, except in the fruit group. The free foods category represents food under 20 calories, such as unsweetened coffee or tea, salad greens, herbs, spices, and water. You can have these throughout the day with few limits.

Groups & Portion Sizes

  • Vegetables

serving contains 5 g carbohydrates and 23 calories

portion sizes are 1 cup raw and 1/2 cup cooked or juiced

  • Fruits

serving contains 15 g carbohydrates and 60 calories

portions sizes vary and are approximate: 4oz, for apples, bananas, nectarines, pears, 6 oz for orange and peach, 1 cup for berries and melon, and 1/2 of a mango or grapefruit

  • Milk

serving contain 90 calories and 12 g carbs

portions sizes for nonfat milk is 1 cup, for nonfat yogurt 3/4 cup

  • Starches

serving contains 15 g carbs and 80 calories

portions sizes include reduced calorie bread at 2 slices, one 4” pancake, 1/2 hamburger bun, 1/3 cup cooked rice and pasta, 3/4 cup unsweetened cereal, and 1/2 cup mashed potatoes

  • Meat

lean meat serving contains 45 calories and >3 grams fat

portion sizes are I oz lean beef, skinless poultry and tuna, 2 egg whites, 1 oz low-fat cheese

medium fat meat serving contains 4 to 7 g fat and 75 calories

portion sizes are 1 oz beef, poultry and sausage, 1 egg

high fat meat serving contains 100 calories and <8 grams fat

portion sizes are 2 slices bacon, 1 hot dog, 1 oz high fat cheese such as chedder

  • Fats

serving contains 5 g fat and 45 calories

portions include 6 almonds or cashews, 1.5 tsp nut butters, 1 tsp oil, 10 peanuts, 1 tbsp salad dressing, 1 tsp butter, 1 tbsp cream and regular cream cheese

When you choose your foods exchange lists for diabetes with your dietician or nutritionist, you will have more options, and will be able to discuss substituting occasional desserts and scheduling meals.

References Your Diabetes Diet: Exchange Lists

UMMC: Diabetic Exchange Lists

Food Exchange Lists

Image from Wikimedia Commons, USDA, Public Domain