Don’t Let Diabetes Haunt Your Halloween

diabetes halloween

This is guest post from Beth Kelly.

Individuals with diabetes must exercise caution on all major holidays, when an abundance of sugary treats and alcoholic beverages present constant waves of temptation. On no other night of the year is this more evident than on Halloween, a celebration traditionally centered on the consumption of candy.

While most trick-or-treaters go from house to house collecting goodies, diabetic children (and adults!) must watch their intake closely. But even so, diabetes doesn’t have to preclude enjoyment of the festivities as long as a few simple steps are taken. (These are, of course, in addition to the recommended safety precautions for everyone to follow).

diabetes halloweenBy preparing beforehand and indulging in moderation, it’s possible to enjoy tasty Halloween treats alongside friends and family. It’s safe for diabetics to eat some candy, but it’s important to keep the carbohydrate count in check — which can be tough to manage during all the excitement.

In consultation with your doctor, you can establish limits on how much candy can be consumed and how frequently it would be safe to do so. It may be possible to combine candy with extra insulin doses to allow the patient to have fun without sending his or her blood glucose levels skyrocketing. If you’re going to be handing out treats to the little ghouls who stop by your door, consider buying small inedible items (stickers, bouncy balls, glow sticks, etc) instead. If you’re working to manage your own diabetes, it won’t be a struggle to resist the urge to appropriate pieces from the stash, and every child can enjoy the hand out.

For parents, effective candy deployment strategies are crucial. If you’re the parent of a small child, try to organize the candy stash, and exchange less preferable sweets for something non-food related. Dole out favorite savory delights according to the schedule you’ve established in advance, and don’t leave the goodies lying around where they’ll pose a temptation to even the most strong-willed youngster.

For older children, one way of dealing with a large collection of accumulated sweets is by offering to “buy” them back, making the entire exercise a combination of a sweepstakes and a collectible trading game. Other rewards could include a day at the movies, a trip to the zoo or a new toy for trading in a large volume of candy. Whatever strategies you employ to deal with your Halloween candy situation, be sure to clearly communicate them with the other members of your household ahead of time. That way, there won’t be any confusion or accusations of unfairness when you enforce the candy rules.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festive spirit that have nothing to do with sugar-filled snacks. Haunted houses and hayrides, costume contests, and trips to the pumpkin patch are all creative alternatives that don’t put the focus on food. Scary movie marathons leading up to All Hallows Eve last all month long (DirecTV’s “Horrorfest” and Syfy’s “31 Days of Halloween Spook-a-Thon” are two to try), giving you plenty of opportunities to sit through all the Scream sequels you missed as a teenager.

Hosting a Halloween party is another great way to participate in diverting activities, such as fall-themed crafts and pumpkin carving, without having to cram down mindless sugars and carbs. Because you’ll be in charge of these events, you can arrange to have healthier foods present for the merrymakers to dine upon. Parties are a great way of passing a pleasant time with friends and family, and you can adjust the tone and ambiance of the event based upon the ages of the participants. Whether your guests are barely out of diapers or about to begin their retirements, a spooky-themed gathering is a good time for everyone.

Just as with other holidays throughout the year, Halloween is flexible enough to accommodate most of the challenges faced by diabetics. It might be the most candy-heavy day on the calendar, but you can make this night a treat without the sweets by including costumes, scary movies and jack-o-lanterns in the mix. Use your best judgment to find out what works for you and your loved ones and have a happy, safe, and healthy Halloween!

5 Easy (And Tasty!) Food Swaps For Diabetics

diabetes food swaps

This is a guest post from Dr. Shinde, owner and physician at Aayu Clinics Lakeview Immediate Care.

diabetes food swapsType 1 diabetes often develops before adulthood, but Type 2 diabetes usually manifests itself later in life, once the patient has long been set in his/her own eating and lifestyle habits. This can make bad habits really hard to let go. Holidays can become overwhelming as you try to keep track of your carbohydrate intake and deftly avoid making direct eye contact with the dessert table. But diabetes doesn’t have to put a damper on your diet. Start slowly replacing unhealthy snacks with these healthier morsels, which help lower your blood sugar, and promote health without getting in the way of what you love to eat.

1. Fork it
Burgers are a big part of barbecue season, and a popular item on most restaurant menus, but the buns are loaded with refined sugars. If you eat a burger, wrap it in a large slice of romaine lettuce, or opt for low-carb buns and bread. You can also avoid carb overload by simply using a fork and a knife to eat hamburgers and hot dogs. Decrease fat and cholesterol consumption while you’re at it by subbing a vegan or vegetarian alternative for the meat.

2. Try baking instead of frying
If french fries are your favorite go-to snack, you don’t need to give up hope just because you’re restricting carb and fat content. Baked sweet potato fries are a tasty alternative, especially when drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cinnamon, a spice that’s been shown to decrease blood glucose.

3. Brown is better
White bread is considered almost as harmful as sugar because it’s made from refined grains that have been stripped of much of their nutritional content. Instead of slowly absorbing into the bloodstream, these starches take no time at all to process, so their impact on blood sugar is fast and extreme. Reach for brown rice and whole grain breads instead. Their high-fiber content will further improve how your body metabolizes sugars.

4. Ditch the chips
That greasy handful of potato chips can seem really tempting at the end of a tough workday, but it’s loaded with carbs and fats, which can wreak havoc on a diabetic’s glucose readings. What should you do if you’re craving something salty and crunchy, but relatively healthy? Grab a handful of raw almonds or walnuts to satisfy your chomping reflex, or chop some bell peppers or cucumbers, and dip them in fat-free hummus. The dip — made of chickpeas — can be found in a variety of flavors, and is packed with sugar-regulating protein.

5. How sweet it is
The worst time for a diabetic patient is that moment at dinner when a server asks you if you’d like to order dessert. Most diabetics have no other option than to drool over the dessert menu, or to compensate for their sugar intake by taking a large amount of insulin. Birthdays can be especially tempting, with all the cake and ice cream on hand. As an alternative to ice cream, you can freeze fat-free cool whip. Serve it with fresh strawberries or blueberries for additional flavor.

Whether you’ve had diabetes for a long time, or are newly diagnosed, you can keep your blood sugar regulated by swapping your food with these tasty alternatives. After a while, you’ll get the hang of it and put your own spin on recipes. These changes can do a lot to boost everyday health, and they may also help reverse Type 2 diabetes — if combined with a regular exercise regimen. Patients can also help fend off diabetes-related complications that range from heart disease and kidney failure, to an increased risk of stroke.

About the author:
Dr. Abhijit Shinde, owner and physician at Aayu Clinics Lakeview Immediate Care, has a long history of experience in primary care, urgent care, and ER. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Aayu Clinics, immediate care clinic in Chicago, is invested in every patient’s health, staying open 365 days a year to help patients when they need it.

Whole Food Plant Based Diet

plant based diet

plant based dietA whole food plant based diet is receiving growing attention as one of the healthiest diets you can follow. This is particularly true if you have diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

There are two very common questions people have when getting started with this type of diet. They are:

What can I eat?
How do I get the right nutrition?

Another related question is: Do you have to join PETA to try the diet!!?

I can’t answer this question for you, but will try and get started on the first two!


Caveat 1: If you have not read my article on the health benefits of a Plant Based diet and diabetes, you will want to read this first.

Caveat2: This diet is so powerful, many participants have been able to lower, if not eliminate their blood sugar regulating medication. You need to work with your doctor to make sure you are monitoring your blood sugar and adjusting the medication properly. There is a real danger that the diet, combined with the medication, can lower your blood sugar too much!! Don’t be scared about this. The whole point of eating this way is to reduce or eliminate your medications. Be happy about this, but also be careful!

What Can I Eat on a Plant Based Diet?

While I bill this diet as a whole foods, plant based diet, some people may view it as a vegan diet. Technically, it is a vegan diet, although it has some important differences. For example, this diet avoids processed foods such as white flower. So, while that slice of white bread may be vegan, it is not a whole food. We want to stick with the whole food, as discussed below.

The food choices below are a combination of recommendations found in the The China Study,
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure, and Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs.


  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains


  • Vegetable Oil
  • Processed Carbohydrates


  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish

Pretty simple, huh? While simple, I am sure you may have some questions. I will try and cover most of these below.

Please be aware that there is some discrepancy amongst the literature regarding the use of fish, oils, nuts and avocadoes. I will also talk about these below.


Avocados and Nuts: Depending upon your current health condition, you may want to avoid avocados and nuts. These foods have huge calorie and fat content. If you have heart disease, diabetes or are over weight, then it would be best if you avoided these foods entirely.

Vegetable Oils: The same caveat holds true for all vegetable oils. Olive oil is the most common example of a “heart healthy” oil that people cite to as being good for you. As Dr. Esselstyn puts it, 14-17 percent of olive oil is made up of saturated fat. While olive oil is “better” for you than other oils, it is still not appropriate, particularly if you are at risk of heart disease, which you are if you have diabetes. Sorry!

Fish: The China Study allows for minimal fish consumption. Dr. Esselstyn and others maintain that fish is so full of toxins and/or antibiotics (from fish farms) that they are a danger to your health. Yes, Omega-3 is helpful, but he recommends other sources. Personally, I try and avoid all fish.

Whole Grain Notes: Pasta, rice and other grains are just fine, there is no limitation. This seems counter to the advice given by the ADA and others that have you absolutely paranoid about even looking at a plate of spaghetti! Do not buy any refined or processed grains. Always choose whole grain. Whole grains have not had the most nutritional parts of them stripped away. White pasta, white bread, etc., have no real nutritional value. Stay away from them.

Added Salt, Oil and Sugar: Once you tune into food labels, you will be astonished with the sheer volume of crap that food companies add to your food. Don’t even get me started on most restaurants. You need to start comparing food labels to see the amounts of any given harmful ingredient that has been added. For example, choose “No Salt Added” soup instead of the salted variety. You can add a little salt at home, but it will be way lower than what is normally a part of the average can of soup. Added oil and sugar, including high fructose corn syrup and other trendy and devious sugar names are flat out killing you. Added sugar is added sugar. Stop it!

Moderation: Most diets talk about moderation. This may be the size of portions or the amount of calories. Generally, there is no such caveat with this diet. Eat as much of the good stuff as you want. Most people following this diet get full faster, thus eat less. The type of food you will be eating fills you up faster than animal based and processed food does. The flip side of this is that you will tend to lose a lot of weight, if you are over weight!

It’s not Working: Not losing weight? Not lowering your cholesterol? Not lowering your blood sugar? The vast majority of the time, the person is not strictly following the diet. Did you cheat? Are you eating exclusively whole grains? Are you paying attention to the added ingredients on the food labels? Alternatively, you are following the diet, but you are eating avocados, oils, nuts and fish. Cut these out and re-commit to the diet and it should work.

How Do I Get The Right Nutrition on a Plant Based Diet?

The biggest objection people always have to following this type of diet is: How do I get the right nutrition? This objection manifests itself in a variety of ways such as how do I get enough protein if I am not eating meat or dairy products.

Variety: Look, you can’t just sit down with a box of whole wheat pasta and think you are getting a balanced meal. Add 2-3 vegetables to the sauce and it becomes much more tasty and healthy. Or, add a side salad sprinkled with some garbanzo or red kidney beans. The point is that each meal should have a variety of ingredients to offer a full range of nutrition.

Meal Plan:
I find it hard to meal plan, but I typically do have at least an informal one, such as:

  • 2 Quick Breakfast Options
  • 2 Quick Lunch Options
  • 5-7 Dinner Options

I shop with these 7-9 meals in mind and buy extra so I have the ingredients covered. I would suggest buying the Fork Over Knives Cookbook (see bottom of page) and picking meals that you think fit your lifestyle (e.g., like to cook, don’t like to cook, etc.).

Cheater’s Meal Plan: I also have 2-3 go to “cheat” meals. What’s a cheat meal? It’s a meal I can eat when the last thing I want to think about is cooking. Here are some examples:

  • Frozen Veggie Burgers (I have the burgers and buns in the freezer)
  • Frozen Vegan Burritos
  • Frozen Vegetables (great as sides, when I didn’t pick up fresh ones)
  • Other Frozen Dinner Options

Do you want to eat these every night? Probably, not. But, if you had to work late or had a stressful day; you have these on hand and are less likely to cheat with the meat lover’s pizza from Domino’s!


This book has a wealth of knowledge in it. Try some of the meals and incorporate your favorites into an ongoing plant based diet meal plan.

For an extensive list of whole food plant based nutrition resources, please follow the link and look at the bottom of the article.

Also, check out our Diabetes Recipes. We have a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes and are adding many more!


The China Study, T. colin Campbell, Phd., and Thomas Campbell II, M.D., Benbella Books (2006).
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., Penguin Group (2008).
Dr. Neal Bernard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes, Neal Bernard, M.D., Rodale, Inc., (2007)
The Starch Solution, John McDougall, M.D., Rodale, Inc. (2012).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2013.

Diabetes Diet Information

diabetes diet choices

diabetes diet choicesFinding good diabetes diet information can be a challenge. For example, what does the American Diabetes Association recommend I eat? Is this the only choice? Is this the best choice?

What about Low Carbohydrate diets? The right diabetes nutrition planning is essential for good health.

Having diabetes forces one to look at food and meals differently. Conforming to a proper diet is the cornerstone of good diabetes management. The following information covers how to do this yourself, in addition to several services that can help you in this process.

Diet Choices

Please be aware that there is no ONE diet that works for everyone. In fact, the American Diabetes Association explicitly makes this point in its treatment guidelines. For some people, this will take a little experimentation, for others they will get something that works right from the beginning.

  • my-plate-method-100
    Create My Plate Method: First, the American Diabetes Association advocates designing meals modifying the My Plate Method advocated by the USDA. This is the most simple straight forward way I have seen to get started on a new diet.
    Essentially, you just divide your 9 inch wide plate into sections and fill the sections with the appropriate food group. The “diabetes” version of this method simply adds more vegetables and takes away the fruit, for most meals. You can watch a short video of this method after the jump.
  • diabetes-food-pyramid-100
    Diabetes Food Pyramid: Next, the pyramid is the cornerstone for some of the ADA’s various methods of eating. Largely, the ADA is setting aside the pyramid in favor of the more simplified plate method.
    The problem with the pyramid is not that it is nutritionally unsound, but that most people can’t figure it out consistently over time. However, it is worth taking a look at to see how a solid nutritional diet works.
  • exchange-diet-100
    Diabetic Food Exchange: This diet is the cornerstone for many ADA cookbooks tutorials about how to eat if you have diabetes. Basically, it is a system that assigns values to food based on the foods nutritional characteristic.
    Why do this? Well, it allows you to “Exchange” different foods for other foods of similar quality or characteristic. Needless to say, this can get rather complicated. The first article explains the concept of this diet. The next two articles give examples of how this diet works in practice. Check out these very comprehensive Exchange Lists and some handy Exchange Charts.
  • vegan-diet-and-diabetes-100
    Whole Food Plant Based Diet: After years of studying the issue, I believe a whole food plant based diet is the absolute best diet choice available, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. The health benefits are outstanding and the nutrition quality you get is amazing. If you want to learn more about how to “Get Started” I have gone into great detail in my Get Started with the Plant Based Diet here.
  • mediterranean-diet-100
    Mediterranean Diet: Some studies claim that the Mediterranean diet is the number one way to eat to avoid and/or improve your diabetes. The diet is rich in vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Additionally, the diet limits red meats and promotes lean meat and fish.You may be surprised to find out that those following the diet reduced their risk of developing diabetes by up to 87 percent! Come find out more about this incredible way of eating.
  • Nutrisystem-D-100
    Diet Reviews: Over on our weight loss page, I have reviewed over 13 different diets advocated for diabetes health. The list is quite extensive and covers everything from a vegan diet to a high protein diet following the principles set down by Dr. Atkins.There is certainly no small number of diets to choose from. Figure out the positive and negatives of each diet and see what others have to say about them as well.

Carbohydrate issues

  • diabetes-and-carbohydrates-100
    Diabetes and Carbohydrates: Regardless of your chosen method of eating, you should learn more about carbohydrates and how they affect your blood sugar. Not all carbohydrates are alike or affect your blood sugar the same way.
    This article is an in depth look at the different kinds of carbohydrates and what makes some better than others. What’s really critical to understand is How Carbohydrates Affect Insulin Release.
  • glycemic-index-100
    Glycemic Index: When you are ready to take your carbohydrate knowledge to the next level, it is time to learn about the glycemic index. This index is a way to classify how any given carbohydrates affects your blood sugar. You really want to know this information because you will be able to make much better decisions about what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid. It’s really not that hard once you get the swing of it!

Food lists and Cook Books

  • diabetic-food-grocery-list-100
    Food List: Sometimes it’s just all overwhelming and you just want a quick and easy list of the best foods you can buy. No exchanges, no carb counting, no long recipes. You just want to grab some food that is good for you and go!
    Well, I put together a pretty long list of great foods for people with diabetes in this article. I also put together a list of places where you can get grocery store lists of food that go along with a menu plan. You can see my Diabetic Grocery List here.

  • book-4-ingredient-100
    Top 5 Diabetes Cookbooks: What is the best diabetes cookbook? How do you literally choose from the hundreds of choices available? I look at a variety of different choices from some of the most popular diet choices. Check out the BIG list after the jump.

Specific Diabetes Nutrition choices

I have covered a variety of general topics above. However, sometimes you need to get into the specifics to really get the answers you need.

  • yin-and-yang-symbol-100
    Alternative Treatments: I delve into a whole host of specific treatments that are non-traditional in nature. Some are specific substances, such as green tea, cinnamon and chromium.
    Alternatively, I point out other possibilities like acupuncture, meditation and others as a way to get ahead of the game. Either way, its worth taking a look at some alternatives to your current treatment plan.
  • coffee-and-diabetes-100
    Coffee: Coffee is one of those substances that people forget is packed with antioxidants. These substances are great for warding off all sorts of maladies. There have been numerous studies finding that coffee may help you avoid diabetes. Additionally, there are also studies that suggest coffee can help you avoid strokes, liver disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. However, watch the cream and sugar. Even coffee can’t save you from too much fat and sugar!
  • diabetes-and-alcohol-100
    Alcohol: Oh boy, you knew this one was going to be covered, right? Here I go into how alcohol affects your blood sugar and some of the dangers that can occur if you are over served.
    We also look into the ADA’s recommended alcohol consumption guidelines, so that you can think before you drink! Boo, hiss!
  • diet-coke-and-diabetes-100
    Diet Coke and Diet Soda: This is one of those topics you can file under the, you don’t know, what you don’t know heading. More and more studies are finding out that diet sodas are probably not all that good for you. Diet sodas also have been found by some researchers to actually cause you to gain weight! Woops!
    Obviously, if you are a diet soda drink you will want to take a look at this to decide if you are going to continue on your current path.
  • diabetes-and-stevia-100
    Stevia: Lastly, here is an all natural plant that doesn’t reduce your glucose levels, but instead allows you to lead a more normal life. Stevia is a natural sweetener that doesn’t raise your glucose levels. Stevia is great because it does not have that artificial taste or some of the health drawbacks of artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame.

Latest Diabetes Food Pyramid

UPDATE 2011: The ADA and the USDA have abandoned the pyramid method of dieting. Please see the Plate Method for the latest recommended eating routine. I have left this article on the site for the time being for those of you who want to see how things used to be.

Latest Diabetes Food PyramidThe latest diabetes food pyramid is like a food Rosetta Stone for people with diabetes! The pyramid unlocks the mystery of what to eat and how to view food from a diabetic perspective.

The pyramid divides food into six categories and provides general guidelines about the number of daily servings you should eat from each category.

Despite the general guidelines, please note that each person will have a different number of required servings. So, please consult your dietician or doctor to determine what is right for you.

Let’s take a look at each category more closely starting at the bottom of the latest diabetes food pyramid. Please notice that the higher up the pyramid, the lower the number of recommended daily servings.

Grains, Beans and Starchy Vegetables. Six or more recommended daily servings. Good source of B vitamins and fiber. Sample foods: breads (whole grains are the best), grains, cereal, pasta, corn, potatoes. Avoid high fat starches like fried tortilla chips, French fries and potato chips. Try using fat free or low fat yogurt, sour cream and mayonnaise as condiments rather than the normal fatty versions.

Fruits. Three to four recommended daily servings. Good source of Vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber. Sample foods: apples, strawberries, grapefruit, peaches, oranges, fruit juice, etc. Try to eat the fruit in the raw or cooked stage, with no added sugars or syrups. Also, understand what a serving is. For example, a serving is 1 small apple or a half of a grapefruit.

Vegetables. Three to five recommended daily servings. Good source of Vitamins A and C, folate and fiber. Sample foods: lettuce, broccoli, spinach, vegetable juice, celery, etc. Try to eat the fruit in the raw or cooked stage, with no added sugars or syrups. Also, understand what a serving is. For example, a serving is half a cup of cooked carrots or 1 cup of a salad. Avoid sauces and dressings as they can contain fat and sugar (Use herbs, spices and vinegar as dressings instead).

Milk. Two to three recommended daily servings. Good source of calcium, protein and vitamin A and D. Sample Foods: milk (fat free or low fat), yogurt (fat free or low fat). Pregnant women typically need additional milk servings.

Meats and Others. Two to three recommended daily servings. Good source of iron, zinc, B vitamins and protein. Sample foods: chicken, fish, eggs, beef, tuna, tofu, peanut butter, cottage cheese, cheese, lamb, etc. Eat only lean cuts of meat. Cook meats in low fat ways, particularly avoiding frying. Notice that servings are only 1 ounce of meat or substitutes.

Fats, Sweets and Alcohol. The good stuff? Not really. Eat any of these very sparingly. Fats and sweets are low in nutrition and can contribute to diabetes related complications. Alcohol is also not recommended by the latest diabetes food pyramid. The best course of action is to consult with your dietician about how to incorporate these into your routine. After all, it is nice to have a beer, a glass of wine or even a slice of pie from time to time.

There is also a growing group of research and thought regarding proper diet different than advocated by the Americans with Diabetes and National Institute of Health in the latest diabetes food pyramid. Take a look at these other choices, particularly the whole foods, plant based diet, South Beach Diet and Diabetes and the Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes.

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed June 2012.


National Institute of Health Publication No. 08-5043, What I need to Know About Eating and Diabetes October 2007 (Accessed December 2008).National Institute of Health,, Recipe and Meal Planner Guide (Accessed December 2008).

Diabetic Exchange Diet

exchange diet

exchange dietThe diabetic exchange diet is the American Diabetes Association’s gold standard for diabetic eating. What is it really all about? Where can I find a food list or chart for the diabetic exchange diet? How does it work? Let’s take a look.

Curiously, many of the resources describing the diet on the American Diabetes Association and National Institute of Health websites don’t even refer to the diet by name. They simply “jump into” describing how you should eat. This can lead to a lot of confusion.

As with all diabetic diets, you should consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine what is right for you.


The diet is simply a way of categorizing or grouping food into a healthy way of eating. Food that has approximately the same nutritional content (calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein) is grouped together and can be “exchanged” for one another. The key to the system is based on specific portion or serving sizes for any given food’s nutritional content.

Each serving is meant to approximately reflect the effect that a particular food has on your blood sugar. For example, one piece of bread has the same effect on your blood sugar as approximately 6 saltine crackers.

The number of servings from each category you can eat will depend upon a number of factors including:

  • Weight
  • Height
  • Overall Health (such as blood sugar levels)
  • Exercise Plan
  • Medications
  • Weight Loss Goals (if any)

This point is more fully discussed below and is also the basis for diets such as the 1600 Calorie or 1800 calorie diabetic diet, etc.

While the diet is designed to provide you with a balanced way of eating, it also seeks to be flexible based on personal tastes. Depending upon your diet plan, you can often “exchange” or substitute different foods based on the food’s exchange value.

For example, 3/4 of an ounce (one exchange) of pretzels is equal to 1 cup of raw vegetables.

If you were planning on eating vegetables for a snack, but decided you wanted some pretzels, you can easily “exchange” one for the other.

Categorizing food and paying attention to portion sizes is very foreign for most people, so it takes some getting used to. The main keys to the diet are:

  1. Understanding the nutritional value of foods (carbohydrates, protein, fat, etc.)
  2. Portion Control
  3. Developing a consistent pattern of eating (meals and snacks)

    The exchange diet categorizes food into six main categories: starches, meat and meat substitutes, vegetables, fruits, dairy and fat. While not always the case, based on individual circumstances a typical breakdown of nutritional value will be 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 20% protein.

    The Diabetes Food pyramid was created to illustrate these category and apportionment of food:

    food pyramid

    There are also foods that are considered “Free” in that they have little or no calories (under 2 per serving), such as coffee, tea, water, etc.

    Sometimes you may also see foods referred to as “combination foods”. These foods combine a number of different ingredients, such as casseroles, stews, pizza, and soups.

    2011 UPDATE: Please be aware that the diabetes pyramid is no longer used as a stand alone tool for meal planning. In 2011, the Plate Method was instituted instead, because it is easier to follow for most people.

    HOWEVER, the diabetic food exchange method still seems to utilize the food pyramid to group foods. This is a bit confusing, but remember. The ADA admits that no one method of eating or dieting is right for everyone. The Food pyramid on its own (not using any exchange method or carb counting) was way to confusing to most people, thus as a stand alone meal planning method they got rid of it. They still use it in some respects for the exchange diet in terms of grouping foods.

    Exchange Lists

    Popular terms you may hear are diabetic food exchange lists or simply exchange lists. These terms refer to lists of foods and what the portion size is for 1 exchange value. These lists are great for simplifying your eating and menu planning.

    For example, if your dinner calls for 3 starches, 3 meats, 2 vegetables, 1 fruit and 2 fats. The list allows you to pick the foods you want to eat and determine appropriate portion size. If the portion size for 1 exchange value of mashed potatoes is 1/2 of a cup. then you could have the 1/2 cup and 2 other starches or you could simply have all 3 of your starches as mashed potatoes (1.5 cups).


    As discussed above, each person will typically have a different exchange diet plan. Most likely the diet plan will be based on the number of calories the person is to consume in any given day. The number of calories will be determined by your doctor or nutritionist based on factors including overall health, weight loss goals, height, weight, etc.

    Take a look at our diabetic exchange chart to get a better idea of how your caloric plan would look based on your individual characteristics. You can also look at a sample meal plan using exchanges based on calorie amounts (see the above two links at the beginning of the article). Hopefully, this brief overview on the diabetic food exchange diet was helpful. Happy eating!


    What I Need to Know About Eating and Diabetes, NIH Publication No. 08-5043 (October 2007), (accessed August 2012).

Diabetes and Stevia: The Wonder Plant?

stevia and diabetesWhat is the link between diabetes and stevia? Interestingly enough, stevia is a natural sweetener that doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Now, if you’re like me, this concept seems incredible to me, even a little unbelievable. Yet, this natural plant has not been without controversy, I would argue unfairly.

However, before we get to the controversy, let’s first take a look at what stevia is. The name refers to a genus, or family, of over 200 herbs primarily grown in Central and South America. Its main use is that of a sugar substitute because it has up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar.

Yet, stevia does not have a significant effect on raising blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. This property makes stevia very attractive for diabetics on a low carbohydrate and sugar diet, because it satisfies a person’s sweet tooth, yet doesn’t adversely affect their blood sugar.


Like many things in life, the herb is not without its controversy. It was originally banned in the early 1990’s under the logic that it was untested, thus not proven to be safe.

This decision was apparently in contradiction to FDA guidelines and has been criticized as being politically motivated due to pressure from members of the sugar substitute lobby (i.e., aspartame manufacturers, among others). There’s nothing like a good political and big business conspiracy!

Regardless, in 1995 the herb was approved for use as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive. This means stevia was not allowed to be added to foods for sale, such as in soft drinks. Instead, you had to buy the product separate and use it however you wish.

Other controversies have also followed stevia. Early studies, mostly prior to 1991, suggested that stevia could cause genetic mutations in rats. The implication was that these mutations could occur in humans, possibly leading to cancer.

There does not appear to be any significant subsequent supporting evidence and the initial study has been criticized on procedural grounds (i.e., it used incorrect scientific protocols). In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO), found no harmful effects from stevia and made specific note of the herbs possible health benefits. Conspiracy theorists believe stevia was deliberately sabotaged by competitive artificial sweetener companies.


diabetes-and-steviaAs mentioned above, stevia sweetener is attractive as a sugar substitute that does not cause an adverse affect on blood glucose levels. Bring on the chocolate cake (made with stevia of course). However, some studies suggest that the benefits of stevia are much greater.

Even more encouraging for the stevia and diabetes link, stevia has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. Meaning, it may reduce insulin resistance, helping the cells use insulin.

Additionally, it has been shown to help stimulate insulin production. These two benefits are great news for diabetics. These benefits have not been demonstrated sufficiently in human studies, but shown great promise in laboratory rats.


Industry heavy weights such as Coca Cola, Cargill and Pepsi have developed stevia based sweeteners for use alone and as a food additive. These products are based on an extract of stevia, not the entire herb.

In December 2008, the FDA gave its approval for the stevia extract rebinia (Reb A) as a food additive. Coca Cola and Cargill have already branded the product Truvia, based on the rebina extract, and it is set to be used in a host of new products. PepsiCo, Whole Earth Sweetener Company and Pure Circle have also announced PureVia as their equivalent product.

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed February 2013.

Diabetic Exchange Lists

imagesOur massive diabetic exchange lists make following your diet easy! Don’t guess at exchange values or waste time calculating them yourself. Our food exchange lists are easy to follow include the most popular foods around.

As you know, there are six categories of foods in the traditional diabetes food pyramid. We have organized our list to mirror these six categories.

Everyone also wants to know about free foods, such as coffee and tea. We will deal with each one of these categories in turn.

Please Note: All of the exchange values provided below are for illustration purposes only. Any given food item may be more or less depending upon the individual ingredients. The values provided are to help you plan your meals, but you should always review individual food labels to confirm exchange values.

To see how this all comes together you can check out an example such as the 1,800 calorie diabetic diet plan or the 1,500 calorie diabetic diet plan.


One Exchange Value serving typically should conform to the following:

Calories: 80
Protien: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 15 grams
Fat: minimal to none

When at all possible choose whole grain bread, pasta and cereal. Also, when evaluating breakfast cereals, make sure there is less than 5g of sugar per serving, otherwise you get “bumped up” into a higher number of exchange points.

You should also note that “starches” don’t just include the standard breads, pastas, and grains. They include high starch vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and some beans.


Item Serving Item Serving
Bread (white, wheat, etc.) 1 Slice English Muffin 1/2 Med.
Bread, Red. Cal. (40c per slice) 2 Slices Bagel 1/2 Med.
Bread, French/Italian 1 SliceRoll, Dinner 1 Small
Bread Crumbs 3 Tbs. Roll, Hambuger 1/2 Medium
Taco Shell 1 Fat, 1 Starch Roll, Hot Dog 1/2 Roll
Corn Tortilla 1 Fat, 1 Starch Cereal, cooked 1/2 Cup
Bran, Concentrated 1/3 Cup Pasta, cooked1/2 Cup


Item Serving Item Serving
Corn, kernals 1/2 CupBeans, Lima 1/2 Cup
Corn, cob (5 x 1 inch) 1 Beans, split peas, lentils1/3 Cup cooked
Potato, mashed 1/2 CupRoll, Dinner 1 Small
Potato, baked 1/2 Medium Pumpkin 3/4 Cup
Sweet Potato, mashed1/2 cup
Squash, Acorn 3/4 Cup
Sweet Potato, baked 1/2 Medium Squash, Winter3/4 Cup
Peas2/3 Cup Squash, Butternut 3/4 Cup


Item Serving Item Serving
Rice, white, brown 1/3 Cup cooked Barley, cooked 1/4 Cup
Rice, arborio 1/3 Cup Cornstarch 2 Tbs.
Rice, basmati, wild 1/3 Cup cooked Cornmeal, uncooked 2.5 Tbs.
Couscous 1/2 Cup cooked Flour 3 Tbs.
Kaska, cooked 1/3 Cup Quinona, uncooked 2 Tbs.


Item Serving Item Serving
Popcorn, popped, no fat3 Cups Ginger Snaps 3
Popcorn, popped, light 3 Cups, 1 bread, 1 fatGraham Crackers 3
Matzo, whole wheat7Melba Toast, rectangles5
Matzo, regular 1Melba Toast, rounds 5
Rice Cakes, whole 2Saltines 6
Rice Cakes, mini 8Pretzels 3/4 oz.


One Exchange Value serving typically should conform to the following:

Calories: 60
Protein: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 15 grams
Fat: 0 grams

As expected fresh fruit is the optimal choice. If you must eat other types (canned, frozen, etc.), make sure there is no sugar added.

Item Serving ItemServing
Apple 1 small Apricots4 Medium
Applesauce, unsweet. 1/2 Cup Banana, 9 inch1/2
Blackberries 3/4 Cup Cantaloupe, sectioned1/3 melon
Blueberries 3/4 Cup Cantaloupe, cubed1 cup
Boysenberries1 Cup Cherries, fresh12
Grapefruit, 4 inch 1/2 Dates3
Grapes 15Figs2 small
Guava 1.5 small Honeydew Melon 6.5 inch 1/8 Melon
Mango, whole 1/2 Honeydew Melon, cubed1 cup
Mango, cubed 1/2 CupKiwifruit1 large
Lemon 1 large Peach, 2.5 inch1
Orange, 3 inch 1Pear1 small
Nectarine, 2.5 inch1 Cup Papaya, 3.5 inch1/2
Pineapple, diced 3/4 Cup Papaya, cubed1 cup
Pineapple, canned 1/3 Cup Plum, 2 inch2
Pomegranate, 3.5 inch1/2 Prunes, medium3
Rasberries 1 Cup Raisins2 Tbs.
Strawberries 1 1/3 Cup Rhubarb, cubed3 cups
Tangerine, 2.5 inch 2 Watermelon, diced1 1/4 cup


Item Item Item Serving
Apple Juice, unsweet.4 oz. Lemon Juice, unsweet. 6 oz.
Cranberry Juice, Low Cal. 10 oz. Orange Juice, unsweet. 4 oz.
Grape Juice, unsweet. 4 oz. Pineapple, Juice, unsweet. 4 oz.
Grapefruit Juice, unsweet. 5 oz. Prune Juice, unsweet. 3 oz.


One Exchange Value serving typically should conform to the following:

Calories: 28
Protein: 2 grams
Carbohydrates 5 grams
Fat: 0 grams

Raw vegetables are considered the best choice, particularly dark leaf vegetables, such as spinach. Steaming vegetables is the next best preparation choice.

Item Serving Item Serving
Artichoke 1/2 Okra 1/2 Cup
Asparagus, chopped 1 Cup Onion 1/2 Cup
Bamboo Shoots 1/2 Cup Pea Pods, snow 1/2 Cup
Bean Sprouts 1/2 Cup Pepper, green, red, yellow1 Cup
Beets 1/2 Cup Radishes 1 Cup
Broccoli 1/2 Cup Rutabagas 1/2 Cup
Broccoli Rabe 1/2 Cup Sauerkraut 1/2 Cup
Brussels Sprouts1/2 Cup Scallions 1/2 Cup
Cabbage 1 Cup Spinach, cooked1/2 Cup
Carrots1/2 Cup Squash, Summer1 Cup
Cauliflower 1 Cup Squash, Zucchini 1 Cup
Celery1 Cup Tomato 1 medium
Collard Greens1 Cup Tomato, paste1.5 Tbs.
Egg Plant 1/2 Cup Tomato, sauce, can 1/3 Cup
Fennel, bulb 1/2 Cup Tomato, juice 1/2 Cup
Garlic 5 cloves Turnips 1/2 Cup
Green Beans1 Cup vegetables, mixed 1/4 Cup
Kale 1/2 Cup Vegetable, juice 1/2 Cup
Leeks1/2 Cup Wax Beans 1 Cup
Mushrooms, Fresh1 Cup Water Chestnuts5 Whole
Mustard Greens, cooked 1 Cup Chili Pepper 5 small


Some vegetables have very little carbohydrates or calories. They are not technically “free” foods as outlined below, but if eaten raw they may be eaten in greater quantity. This does not mean you can eat 12 lettuce heads in one sitting, but generally you do not have to stress over the serving size like other foods.

Alfalfa SproutsLettuce
Chinese CabbagePickes, unsweet.


Meat and Meat Substitutes are a little more involved for determining One Exchange Value of any given serving. The conventional wisdom is that meat exchange values are determined based on their fat content as follows:

 Nonfat Low Fat Medium Fat Higher Fat
Calories 40-45 5575100
Protein7g 7g 7g 7g
Carbohydrates0g 0g 0g 0g
Fat0g 3g 5g 8g

High fat meat choices should be rare occasions. If at all possible stick with low fat options. Also, avoid frying meat and try to bake, barbeque or broil when cooking.

If eating hamburger, you may also want to rinse the meat after you cook it. This will remove a tremendous amount of the fat. Lastly, trim any excess fat before cooking.


Item Serving
Cheese, fat free 1 oz.
Cottage Cheese, fat free 1/4 Cup
Ricotta, 100% Skim 1 oz.

The above diabetic exchange lists should get you started toward implementing your exchange diet. However, as you may have determined, many of the foods we eat come already prepared.

Initially, it will take some time to figure the appropriate exchange value, but the reward will be well worth it. Great health and feeling great!


Item Serving Item Serving
Cottage Cheese, 1% Fat 1/4 Cup Pork, tenderloin, trimmed 1 oz.
Cheese, low fat 1 oz. Poultry, chicken, no skin 1 oz.
Beans, dried, cooked 1/2 Cup (1 meat, 1 starch)Poultry, turkey, no skin 1 oz.
Egg, substitute, raw 1/4 Cup (55 cal.) Ground Chicken 1 oz.
Fish and Shellfish 1 oz. Ground Turkey 1 oz.
Tuna, water packed 1/4 Cup Canadian Bacon 1 oz.
Lunch Meat, 95% fat free1 oz. Tofu 3 oz.


Item Serving Item Serving
Beef, chipped 1 oz. Veal, no breast 1 oz.
Beef, flank steak1 oz. Cheese, mozzarella part skim 1 oz.
Beef, hamburger 15% fat1 oz. Cheese, ricotta part skim1 oz.
Beef, rin eye 1 oz. Cheese, processed lite 1 oz.
Beef, sirloin 1 oz. Cheese, lite 1 oz.
Beef, tederloin 1 oz. Parmesan 3 Tbs.
Beef, top round 1 oz. Romano 3 Tbs.
Beef, bottom round1 oz. Egg 1
Lamb, non breast 1 oz. Egg, substitute (56-80 cal.) 1/4 cup, raw
Pork, ground 1 oz. Lunch Meat, 86% lean 1 oz.
pork, sparerib 1 oz. Turkey Bacon 2 slices
pork, tenderloin 1 oz. Peanut Butter 1 Tbs., 1 meat, 1 fat


Eat these meats only infrequently. The saturated fat content is not good for you.

Item Serving Item Serving
Beef, brisket 1 oz. Cheese, blue 1 oz.
Beef, rib steak 1 oz. Cheese, brie 1 oz.
Beef, corned beef 1 oz. Cheese, cheddar 1 oz.
Beef, hamburger 80% lean 1 oz. cheese, colby 1 oz.
Beef, rib roast 1 oz. cheese, colby 1 oz.
Lamb, breast 1 oz. Cheese, monterey jack 1 oz.
Pork, ground 1 oz. Cheese, provolone 1 oz.
Pork, spareribs 1 oz. Cheese, swiss 1 oz.
Pork, sausage (link, patty) 1 oz. Cheese, processed1 oz.
Veal, breast 1 oz. Cheese, low fat goat 1 oz.
Poultry, duck 1 oz. Organ Meat, liver, kidney, heart 1 oz.
Poultry, goose 1 oz. Fried Fish 1 oz.


Dairy Exchange Value per serving is split into nonfat, low fat and medium to high fat categories.

Dairy choices are best if nonfat or low fat. The key is also to avoid as much, or all saturated fat in this category. If you are not a big dairy consumer, make sure you take a calcium supplement. Amongst other things, this will help with avoiding or minimizing diabetes and osteoporosis.

One Exchange Value serving typically should conform to the following:

 Nonfat Low Fat Med. - High Fat
Protein8g 8g 8g
Carbohydrates12g 12g 12g


Item Serving Item Serving
Skim Milk 8 oz. Low-Fat Milk, 0.5% 8 oz.
Nonfat Yogurt, Plain 8 oz. Lactaid Milk, skim 8 oz.
Canned Evaporated Milk 4 oz.


Low Fat Milk, 1% 8 oz.
Yogurt, plain8 oz.
Lactaid Milk, 1% 8 oz.


Low Fat Milk, 2% 8 oz.
Whole Milk8 oz.


One Exchange Value serving typically should conform to the following:

Calories: 45
Protein: 0
Carbohydrates: 0
Fat: 5

Try and choose unsaturated or low saturated fat choices. Better cooking oil choices including safflower, olive, canola, etc.


ItemServingItem Serving
Avocado, 4 inch1/8Nuts, Pecans2 whole
Margarine1 Tsp.Nuts, Pine Nuts1 Tbs.
Mayo1 Tsp.Nuts, Pistachio12 whole
Mayo, Reduced Calorie1 Tbs.Nuts, Walnuts2 whole
Nondairy Creamer2 Tbs.Oils, olive, safflower, canola1 Tsp.
Nondairy Creamer, lite5 Tbs.Oil, corn sunflower1 Tsp.
Nuts, Almonds6 wholeOlives, green5 small
Nuts, Brazil2 med.Olives, black2 large
Nuts, cashews5-8 wholeDressing, Italian1Tbs.
Nuts, Hazelnuts5 wholeDressing, mayo based2 Tsp.
Nuts, Macadamia3 wholeSeeds, sunflower1 Tbs.
Nuts, peanuts, Spanish20 wholeSeeds, Pumpkin2 Tsp.
Nuts, peanuts, Virginia10 wholeSeeds, Sesame1 Tbs.


Butter1 Tsp.Cream, light1.5 Tbs.
Bacon, crisp1 stripCream, sour2 Tbs.
Coconut, shredded2 Tbs.Cream, whipped, can1/3 cup
Nondairy Whipped Topping3 Tbs.Cream Cheese1 Tbs.
Cream, half and half2 Tbs.Margarine1 Tsp.
Cream, Heavy1 Tbs.Oil, palm, coconut1 Tsp.


Finally, if you have read this far, you are now rewarded with some free food items!! Wahoo!! They may not seem like much, but let’s take what we can get. If the item has an * next to it, it has high sodium, so be careful.

The following items have very few calories and are considered free!.

Bouillon CubesBroth, ClearSoda, no calorie
CoffeeCranberries, unsweet.Most Extracts
Most HerbsHorseradishLime Juice
Most MustardsSugar SubstitutesPickles, unsweet.
Soy SauceSteak Sauce, mostTabasco Sauce
Taco SauceTeaVinegar, most


The above diabetic exchange lists should get you started toward implementing your exchange diet. However, as you may have determined, many of the foods we eat come already prepared.

Initially, it will take some time to figure the appropriate exchange value, but the reward will be well worth it. Great health and feeling great!


Joslin Diabetes Gourmet Cookbook, Polin, Bonnie Sanders, Towner, Frances, Bantam Books, 1993. (accessed August 2012). (accessed August 2012).

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed May 2013.

Diabetes Cookbooks: Top 5 Choices

Find out the best diabetes cookbooks. With literally thousands of choices, which cookbook is the BEST for you? I have reviewed some of the more popular choices, as well as some of my favorites.

Whether you are looking for the best Mediterranean Diet cookbook, South Beach Diet cookbook or one that follows the American Diabetes Association (ADA) standard diet, I have many choices to choose from.

You should also note that the ADA states that no one diet is right for every diabetic. This means that the number of eating choices, and thus cookbook choices, is massive.

Think about the food you like and the food that is good for you and see if you can come up with a choice that works for you.

Here are my TOP 5 Diabetes Cookbooks


By: Del Sroufe

book-forks-over-knives-cookbookPositives: It is no secret I believe that a whole food plant based diet is the best diet for controlling and reversing diabetes. This book is the “go to” book for following this eating plan. Even if you do not want to commit completely to this diet, this book has very tasty and healthy recipes: low fat, nonexistent cholesterol, etc. There are also many cooking tips and a tremendous amount of recipe choices.

Negatives: There are over 300 recipes, but only about 20 pictures. I am a sucker for pictures in recipe books! The picture often inspires me to cook the meal.

Recommendation: This is my No. 1 recommended diabetic cookbook.


By: Nancy Hughes

Positives: Do you ever feel like some of the diabetes cook books out there are written for the author’s ego rather than the person doing the cooking? Some of the recipes would take an advanced chemical engineering degree to properly do right! This is not one of those books. Bottom line, for all of us who have difficulty producing meals with complex recipes, this book is a god send. Four ingredients. book-4-ingredientThat’s it. If you like delicious meals that are easy to produce, you should check this book out.

Negatives: While not a true negative, the book follows the American Diabetes Association guidelines. As you can read on other pages of this site, many people feel the ADA guidelines are not appropriate for healthy diabetes eating. That being said, the majority of people with diabetes tend to follow the ADA guidelines.

Recommendation: This is a great overall book which does a good job of following ADA guidelines and has fast, simple and delicious meals. Recommended for your kitchen library! Probably, my favorite diabetes cook book.


By: Dr. Michael Ozner

book-miami-mediterranean-dietPositives: The Mediterranean diet is arguably the most healthy in the world. Multiple studies prove that diabetes can be avoided (if you don’t have it) or controlled (if you do) by following a Mediterranean diet. This book is not perfect, but it does a great job giving a brief overview of the diet’s advantages. More importantly, it provides over 300 recipes. Many of the other diet books discussing the Mediterranean lifestyle are light on the recipes. Not this book.

Negatives: The author, a noted surgeon, does utilize certain artificial sweeteners in his recipes. While not against the diabetes diet, some of these substitutions do not reflect a purist ideal of the Mediterranean diet principles.

Recommendation: Highly recommended if you are interested in getting started with this type of eating regimen.


By: Dr. Arthur Agatston

book-south-beach-cookbook Positives: The South Beach Diet Super Quick cook book is loosely based on a Mediterranean diet, low in carbohydrates and high in lean proteins and fresh vegetables. This cookbook provides many different choices for people pursing this diet.

Negatives: I was a follower of the South Beach Diet. I found that I lost a lot of weight during the “Phase 1” stage. This is not a negative. Traditionally, the challenge with the diet is that the recipes are very complex (many ingredients). This also goes for the numerous snacks, not just the meals. It will take a lot of time to find the ingredients and then assemble them. The first several weeks it will take literally many hours a day just to prepare the meals.

This book seeks to ameliorate the traditional south beach diet difficulties with preparing meals.

Recommendation: Recommended. This book is a easier to follow than other South Beach recipe cook books. Who doesn’t like easy?


By: Laura Rondinelli, Jennifer Bucko

book-healthy-calendarPositives: This is a very novel book. Every week there is a menu plan, complete with a grocery shopping list. Each recipe has the exchange diet information and complete nutritional content (calories, fat, carb count, etc.). For those looking to follow the ADA diet and have things laid out very simply, this is a great tool.

Negatives: No pictures. I like to have pictures of each recipe. It gets me in the mood (to cook), so to speak.

Recommendation: Highly recommended for the person on the go who is not a big fan of following complex recipes. Easy to copy the grocery list and take it to the store with you. It is too bad other diet alternatives (e.g., South Beach, Mediterranean Diet, etc.) do not provide this easy to use format.

Hopefully, you have found one of your TOP diabetes cook book from our choices! Happy Cooking!!


We have gladly started to get comments on the above books from several readers. Some readers even recommended a diabetes cook book or two not on the list and we thought we would share their thoughts.




It wasn’t until my wife got “Death to Diabetes” that both of us saw improvement in our health.B

The book is well structured, easy to use, and more importantly, it WORKS! I lost 37 pounds, my wife lost 27 pounds, our BS went down and now our average is less than 97.

The book covers everything plus it goes beyond the other books to actually get you “past” the disease — it doesn’t keep you in a box. “Death to Diabetes” explains the exact foods to eat vs. not eat and why. It explains how to exercise the right way. It provides other alternatives to fight the disease including raw juicing and detoxing.

And, the book explains how to improve the health of your eyes, liver, kidneys, heart, etc., and what are the critical blood tests to get. Sincerely, RJ

Thanks for the Diabetes Cook Book Recommendation RJ!

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed November 2012.

Diabetic Exchange Chart

exchange-diet-chartConfused? Our diabetic exchange chart helps you make sense of how much you should eat on the exchange diet. We make it simple and clear to understand.

As you know, each person will usually have a different exchange diet plan that has been determined by their doctor or nutritionist. Each plan is based on the number of calories the person is to consume during the day.

Your doctor or nutritionist will help you determine the amount of calories you need to consume based on factors including:

  • Overall Health
  • Weight Loss Goals
  • Height
  • Weight

While each plan is specific, there are a number of common guidelines that you should understand based on your individual characteristics.

FYI – If you are looking for the exchange value of foods, please go to our diabetic exchange lists page.

Here are some approximate guidelines from the National Institute of Health based on a person’s individual characteristics. The charts first break down the number of calories to be consumed, then further describes the number of servings that corresponds to the given diet. By using the exchange diet food lists, you can simply choose what to eat. Pretty straight forward.

Let’s take a look at which diabetic exchange chart is right for you.

1200 TO 1600 CALORIES

Food Item Servings Food Item Servings
Starches 6Dairy 2
Vegetables 3Meat 4-6 oz.
Fruit 2 Fats 3

1600 TO 2000 CALORIES

Food Item Servings Food Item Servings
Starches 8Dairy 2
Vegetables 4Meat 4-6 oz.
Fruit 3Fats 4

2000 TO 2400 CALORIES

  •  Medium to large man, heavy exercise habits
  • Large man at a healthy weight
  •  Medium to large woman, heavy exercise habits
Food Item Servings Food Item Servings
Starches10Dairy 2
Vegetables 4Meat 5-7 oz.
Fruit 4Fats 5

Each diabetic exchange chart above should help you get an idea of what the day to day caloric intake and exchange diet values you can expect depending on your individual situation.

Your individual circumstances may vary, but these charts are helpful for understanding the basic framework or logic behind how and why some of these diets are created. They also are helpful to understanding the process or simplicity behind implementing an exchange diet.


What I Need to Know About Eating and Diabetes, NIH Publication No. 08-5043 (October 2007), (accessed August 2012).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2012.