If you have diabetes, managing your diet in accordance with medically accepted nutritional guidelines can literally mean the difference between life and death. Learning the diabetic exchanges, which are used to create a livable plan of eating, is essential to promote your wellness. Even if you’re not diabetic, using the food exchanges associated with the diabetic diet can help you regulate your blood sugar. If you’ve noticed ups and downs in your energy and mood throughout the day, chances are you’re suffering from associated spikes and lows in your blood sugar. Sometimes mothers, especially working moms, rush to the nearest fast food outlet to “fuel up” for the day. If you’re a diabetic, this can cause a serious medical problem, so reviewing the recommended exchanges is especially important before dining out.
A critical component of the diabetic exchange list is starches, according to the Mayo Clinic. Remember that not all carbohydrates are “bad” even if you have diabetes. One serving usually contains about 80 calories, 15 carbohydrate grams, up to 3 protein grams and up to 1 fat gram. You could eat one-third cup of cooked barley or cooked pasta with your meals.
While eating whole-wheat starches is a good idea for diabetics or others watching their blood sugar, the exchanges don’t necessarily mean the end of all food-related fun. If you’re planning on a special occasion, consider choosing one of the other recommended starches on the diabetic diet; these options include one-quarter of a 4-ounce bagel or a half of a hamburger or hot dog bun.
Meat and Meat Substitutes
Even if you’re a vegetarian, getting plenty of protein is important for your body. The diabetic exchanges enable you to safely enjoy most proteins, though some should be consumed in moderation whether or not you’re a diabetic.
Each meat serving usually consists of 7 protein grams, according to the Mayo Clinic. Each exchange consists of about an ounce of meat, including fish, chicken, poultry, beef, pork and soy-based products such as vegetarian bacon.
Yes, even with diabetes you can enjoy unlimited quantities of “free foods.” On a traditional diabetic diet, such options usually contain less than 20 calories and less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Your choices can include tea or coffee sweetened with sugar substitute, broth, sugar-free gelatin, chewing gum or salad greens. If you’re in doubt about whether a “sugar-free” free food is right for your medical condition, speak with your doctor before indulging in the questioned treat.
- Pasta image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com