The 1,800-Calorie Exchange Diet: A Healthy Diabetes Plan

A healthy diabetes plan is essential in keeping low blood sugar levels, but it can be a struggle to manage. However, following the diabetes exchange diet can be a good way to help you stay on track with a healthier diet plan.

What Is the 1,800-Calorie Exchange Diet?

The American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association developed the diabetic exchange diet to help those who struggle with diabetes manage their weight and blood sugar levels. In this diet, foods are divided into three main groups based on the three major nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Foods are also divided into subgroups: starches, fruits, milk, meat, sweets, fats and free foods. These subgroups fall into one of the three major groups as well. Within each subgroup, you can exchange foods within a major group because they are similar in nutrient content and the manner in which they affect blood sugar levels.

Subgroups and Exchanges

Starches
Starches are a major source of carbohydrates, so diabetics need to keep a close eye on the amount of starch that they have in their diet. While on the 1,800-calorie exchange diet, 10 starch exchanges per day are allowed. Some examples of possible exchanges are one oz. bagel, half of an English muffin, one slice of bread, 3/4 cup of cold cereal, half a cup of corn, half a cup of sweet or white potato, five crackers, and 1/3 cup of rice or pasta.

Fruits
Fruits are another source of carbohydrates, and on the exchange diet you are able to have three fruit exchanges a day. It is recommend that diabetics choose whole fruits over juice, as the added fiber in fruit also helps to control hunger and prevents blood sugar levels from rising. Some examples of food exchanges are: one small apple or orange, 4 oz. banana, 12 cherries, 17 grapes, half cup of unsweetened canned fruit, two tablespoons of dried fruit, one cup of melon, or half cup of orange juice.

Milk and Yogurt
For diabetics, low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are recommended in order to limit the intake of saturated fats and to reduce the risk of heart disease. Within the exchange diet, two milk and yogurt exchanges are recommended per day. Example exchanges are: one cup of milk or 6 oz. of plain or diet yogurt.

Meat and Meat Substitutes
Meat is another source of saturated fats, and it is recommended that you opt for lean meats in order to limit both your fat and calorie intake. In the exchange diet plan, seven exchanges are allowed per day. Some examples of exchanges are: 1 oz. of beef, pork, poultry or fish, 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or egg substitute, and/or two egg whites.

Non-Starch Vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrition. The exchange diet allows for three vegetable exchanges a day. Exchange examples are: one cup of raw or a half cup of cooked vegetables. Some examples of non-starchy vegetables are: artichokes, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, eggplant and spinach.

Fats
The exchange diet allows for three fat exchanges per day. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in natural oils and nuts, are highly recommended as better choices for a healthier heart. Fat exchange examples are: one teaspoon of margarine, butter, oil or mayonnaise; 10 peanuts, 6 cashews, one tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, two tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing, or one bacon strip.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, Livestrong
Photo: Pexels

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