Diabetic Exchange Diet

If you have diabetes, your doctor may put you on a diabetic exchange diet to help control both your weight and the amount of sugar and cholesterol in your blood. You will need to measure your food while on this diet, and you will probably need to eat 3 meals and 1 to 3 snacks daily. This diet divides the foods you can eat into 6 groups and measures each food by exact serving size. That way you can be sure to eat the right amount from each food group daily.

Your dietitian will give you a meal plan that lists the number of servings you may eat from each food group shown below. The plan will give examples of a typical selection from each group. You can exchange any food in a group for any other from the same group, always limiting yourself to the specified serving sizes. For example, 1 slice of bread can be exchanged for 3/4 cup dry cereal. Or you can exchange 1/2 cup fruit juice for 1/2 of a 9-inch banana. Ask your dietitian for the correct serving size if a food you want is not listed below. At first, weigh or measure all of your foods and beverages so that you eat only the specified amounts. Do not use sugar and avoid foods on the "Do Not Eat" list.

Breads and Starches for Diabetics

  • 1/2 of a 3-inch bagel
  • 1 slice bread (4-inch square)
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal
  • 1/2 cup corn or 1 medium corn on the cob
  • 6 saltine crackers or three 2-1/2-inch square graham crackers
  • 1 small (2-inch square) dinner roll
  • 1/2 cup cooked dried beans (such as kidney, pinto, lentils, chick peas, white, or navy)
  • 1/2 of an English muffin
  • 1/2 cup cooked green peas
  • 1/2 of a hamburger or hot dog bun
  • 1/2 cup cooked lima beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
  • 1/2 of a 6-inch piece of pita bread
  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes or a 3-inch baked potato
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice
  • 2 rice cakes
  • One 6-inch round tortilla
  • 1/2 cup cooked winter squash

Fruits for People with Diabetes

  • 1 medium (3-inch) apple
  • 1 small (5-inch) banana or 1/2 of a 9-inch banana
  • 17 small or 12 large grapes (any kind)
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 1 cup cubed melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, or others)
  • 1 small (3-inch) orange
  • 1 medium (3-inch) peach
  • 1/2 of a large (4 1/2-inch) pear
  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple
  • 2 small plums
  • 3 dried prunes
  • 2 Tbs. raisins (any kind)
  • 1-1/4 cup whole strawberries
  • 1-1/4 cup cubed watermelon

Vegetables for People with Diabetes

You can have 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked portion of most vegetables. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, winter squash, peas, and dried beans are on the bread and starch list.

  • Asparagus
  • Green or wax beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Mixed vegetables (without corn or peas)
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions (all kinds)
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers (all kinds)
  • Radishes
  • Salad greens (lettuce, romaine, spinach)
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • Turnip greens
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini squash

Dairy for Diabetes

  • 1 cup skim, 1-percent, or 2-percent milk
  • 1 cup nonfat plain or sugar-free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup dry nonfat milk 1 cup skim or low-fat buttermilk

Meat and Meat Substitutes for Diabetes

The amounts listed below refer to cooked serving sizes.

  • 1/4 cup canned tuna or salmon
  • 1 ounce chicken without skin
  • 1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute (no more than 3 each week)
  • 1 ounce fish (not breaded or fried)
  • 1 ounce lean beef or pork
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • One 1-inch cube or 1 ounce low-fat solid cheese
  • 1/2 cup tofu
  • 1 ounce turkey without skin

Fats for Diabetes

  • 1/8 of a medium avocado
  • 1 Tbs. regular cream cheese or 2 Tbs. low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. regular margarine or 2 tsp. low-fat margarine
  • 1 tsp. regular mayonnaise or 1 Tbs. low-fat mayonnaise
  • 6 almond or cashew nuts, 10 peanuts, or 4 pecan halves
  • 1 tsp. oil, such as safflower, canola, corn, or olive
  • 2 tsp. peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. regular salad dressing or 2 Tbs. low-fat salad dressing

Foods that People with Diabetes Should Avoid

  • Cake
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Frosting
  • Granola bars
  • Ice cream
  • Jelly and jam
  • Pastries
  • Pie
  • Regular sodas and colas
  • Sugar covered cereals
  • Sweet rolls
  • Products containing:
    • Corn syrup
    • Dextrose
    • Fructose
    • Glucose
    • High fructose corn syrup
    • Honey
    • Maltose
    • Molasses
    • Sucrose
    • Sugar (brown, corn, or powdered)
    • Syrup

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