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What to Know About Diabetic Food Exchange Lists

Using Food Exchanges for Good Blood Sugar Control

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Updated May 19, 2009

What to Know About Diabetic Food Exchange Lists Jodie Coston/Getty Images

What are diabetic food exchange lists? How can they help you control your blood sugar? Eating the right amount of carbohydrate, protein and calories can help you keep your blood sugar in a good range. Your doctor, diabetes educator, or nutritionist can help you figure out how many carbohydrates you should eat everyday, for optimal blood sugar control. Diabetic food exchange lists can be a big help when planning your meals.

Diabetic food exchanges are an easy way to create a meal plan that has a variety of choices, while making sure that consumption of carbohydrates is controlled. Use measuring cups and a food scale to help you keep exchange portions correct.

Similar foods are grouped into categories -- or "exchanges" -- that have the same amounts of carbohydrates, protein, calories and/or fat. Meal plans, which are usually devised by you and a nutritionist, specify the number of servings you can have from each exchange list. Foods on the same list can be exchanged for each other, to give variety and choice to an otherwise structured meal plan. For even more options and variety, there is a list of "free" foods that can be consumed without counting.

Some people find the exchange lists too rigid, especially if they're eating foods that are combinations of foods that don't really fit into one group. Cake and cookies are an example of these kinds of foods. There are some lists that incorporate special occasion foods.

The food exchange method is an uncomplicated way to help you keep your carbohydrate consumption consistent. Work with a nutritionist and follow the exchange lists for optimum blood sugar control.

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