diabetes food exchange system

The management of diabetes with diet has been well understood for a long time. As a result, diabetic nutrition education has been standardized and refined so that it is easily understood by patients, and their families as well as the medical community. This is the basis for the diabetic Food Exchange System.

As a dietitic assistant working in a hospital during college, I was required to be extremely precise in the serving for the diabetic patients. All meat portions were weighted to ensure that they conformed to the theraputic diet requirements.

I was introduced to the system of food exchanges. Unlike the USDA and Health Canada food guidelines, the exchange system is very precise. An exchange for each of the food groups – milk, fruit, vegetable, bread, meat (lean, medium-fat, high-fat), fat has specific values for macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories. For example a bread exchange is 15 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein, 0 grams fat and 68 calories.

This changes the notion of “counting” servings. The quatity of a particular food is measured to determine the number of exchanges. While a single serving of “bread” can contain 80-180 calories as determined from product package nutrition data, the diabetic exchanges would count that as 1 to 3 bread exchanges respectively.

For a diabetic receiving insulin, it is essential to control food intake at this level. For the rest of us trying to do the right thing and follow the USDA recommendations, we can be mislead into consuming too much food in an effort meet the suggested number of serviing for all food groups. By adopting the diabetic food exchange system, following a much healthier diet is likely to result. You don’t have to be a diabetic to take advantage of this clear and precise system for managing healthy eating.

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder, specifically affecting carbohydrate metabolism. It is a disease characterized by persistent hyperglycemia (high glucose blood sugar). It is a metabolic disease that requires medical diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes.

The World Health Organization recognizes three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes (or type 3, occurring during pregnancy), although these three “types” of diabetes are more accurately considered patterns of pancreatic failure rather than single diseases. Type 1 is generally due to autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells, while type 2 and gestational diabetes are due to insulin resistance by tissues. Type 2 may progress to destruction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, but is still considered Type 2, even though insulin administration may be required.

American Diabetes Association

Canadian Diabetes Association

Diabetes UK

Learn more…

Diabetes Resources in Alternative Medicine
– If you have Type II diabetes, this site may help you overcome it. (It is not for those with Type I diabetes.)