Food exchange facts

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
A food exchange program can be helpful for diabetics, or anyone who needs to follow a special diet. In this system, foods are grouped under one of the following categories: starches and breads; meats; vegetables; fruit; milk; or fats. The amount considered a 'serving' will vary by food. However, each serving within a group has roughly the same fat, protein, carbohydrate, and calorie content. Every day, you're allowed a certain number of servings from each group. As long as you stay within recommended amounts, you can exchange or substitute one food for another, within the same group. For example, under vegetables, you might choose broccoli, instead of spinach. Your daily allowances under each food group should be determined by a dietician. Though there are certain foods diabetics should limit or avoid, there's no one, single 'diabetic diet.' The dietician may consider factors like your weight, your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, food preferences, medications, and lifestyle. From this information, a series of customized menus will be developed, with room for exchanges. The food exchange approach has the advantage of ensuring balanced nutrition, while giving you more flexibility than a set menu plan. To find out more, speak with a doctor or dietician in your area.

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