General Diet Plans and Questions - Diabetic Exchange

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01-01-2005, 04:14 PM
My doctor put me on a diabetic exchange program, where you fill in bubbles per food type. This is my recommended daily intake:

Very Lean Meat: 0 0 0 0
Lean Meat: 0 0 0
Milk: 0 0
Starch: 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fruit: 0 0
Vegetable: 0 0 0 0
Fat: 0 0 0 0 0 0
Water: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The total intake for this should be about 1500 calories. Each 0 represents a bubble that is one serving. So for example, if you have half of a large banana, that's one bubble of fruit.

My problem is, I can't seem to get up to 1500 calories without overflowing my bubbles, or eating when I'm not hungry. Since I'm eating low-calorie, low-fat foods, I also nearly always end up with NO fat bubbles filled at all. Frequently my meat is also rather low.

I'm drinking much of the water required, and I usually fill up the fruits, vegetables and milk. I typically fill up all the starches also, and I sometimes go over on those by a bubble or two. I usually can fill in my meat bubbles, or at least half of them each day.

Is anyone else doing this diabetic exchange thing? How can I eat 6 bubbles of fat when I'm not supposed to eat too much meat or starch? On the only day that I got over 1200 calories, I ate 2 english muffins and that boosted my starches by 4 bubbles, making it way over my limit!

Nearly every day I am getting a calorie range of 900 to 1200, and I know this is not healthy. I am taking multivitamins and eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, but still. How can I add fats without just eating a spoonful of butter? :P Should I worry? Whenever I ask my doctor about it, she just says to stick with it, or she'll give me some kind of stupid list of recipes of things there is NO way I would ever prepare.

I need fast and easy stuff because I dislike cooking (sorry, lame but true), so I stick with microwave dinners, which are low-fat, low-calorie.. meaning no fat bubbles. I'm going crazy here! :mad:

01-01-2005, 08:24 PM
You can easily add some "healthier fats" (i.e. not butter/margarine) by adding a dash of olive oil to whatever veggies you might be eating...or adding a little peanut butter to your english muffin.

It is really important for you to get your protein...I am assuming that eggs count as a meat serving? Maybe add an egg to your breakfast each day (70 calories each) They are very quick and easy to prepare.

You may find it easier if you plan ahead a little bit-like divide your servings into separate meals and snacks...and plan your meals around that-like choose a fat and a veggie for a snack-celery with a little peanut butter...and say maybe choose a starch, a protein, and a fruit for breakfast-peanut butter or an egg on a slice of whole wheat toast and a serving of fruit.

If you try to divide your food exchanges into meals and snacks-you can plan your meals a little bit better. It may really help you. Think up some meal and snack ideas containing different exchanges BEFORE you go to the store. It is much easier to do that than to just rummage through the cabinets and grab a fruit or starch because "it's easy."

Another question that I have is-are you doing the diabetic exchange just to lose weight, or are you diabetic? (If you are diabetic, it is of utmost importance to get all your bubbles filled and eat them in the prescribed combinations.)

01-02-2005, 04:12 PM
There are some great books at the bookstore. I recommend spending sometime there, see what u like and go to ebay. They usually have them on there. I was on an 1800 ADA diet during my pregnancy and personally I loved it. I could eat anywhere, no limitations really. I checked my sugar 2 hours after eating and anything that raised my sugar over 120, I didn't eat it again. Pineapple even in the appropriate serving size, ran my sugar up. From other Gestational diabetics and diabetics, they tell me certain foods trigger your individual blood sugars. Also, the spikes in blood sugar cause you to get hungry and eat more. Good luck on your journey.

01-02-2005, 04:16 PM
Also, If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes, check your insurance, most will pay for you to visit a nutritionist (just get your doctor to order it) . Journal what you eat and blood sugars if your doing them. Also, take some labels of your favorite foods and your nutritionist can help you with your diet and make suggestions.

01-02-2005, 05:53 PM
Some people are put onto the diabetic exchange diet are not diabetics-but are put on it to lose weight as a balanced reduced calorie diet. As of now we do not know which of these cases the situation may be.
That is why I originally asked if she was a diabetic or doing the diet for weight loss purposes.
BTW-I was also a gestational diabetic. ;)

01-02-2005, 06:26 PM
I am on Jenny Craig, which is based on the ADA exchange plan. I'm assuming that you were given a list as to how much of different foods count towards what "bubbles?" I would assume that the fat exchanges you are to eat are NOT included in the lean/very lean meats -- they should be added fats. In my program, a fat exchange is worth about 45 calories and has 5g of fat. You generally add them to your other foods, such as starches and vegetables. Here's the list from my JC materials:

MONSATURATED (the best kind to choose)
Avocado -- 1/8 of a whole one, about 1 oz
Oil (Olive, canola, peanut) -- 1 tsp
Olives -- 8 to 10
Nuts & Peanuts -- (1/4 oz; i.e., 4 pecan halves, 6 almonds, 10 peanuts)
Peanut Butter (regular smooth or crunchy) -- 2 Tbsp
Sesame seeds -- 1 Tbsp
Tahini paste -- 2 tsp

POLYUNSATURATED (the next best type)
Margarine (regular) -- 1 tsp
Margarine (light) -- 1 Tbsp
Mayonnaise (regular) -- 1 tsp
Mayonnaise (light) -- 1 Tbsp
Oil (corn, safflower, soybean) -- 1 tsp
Salad dressing (regular) -- 1 Tbsp*
Salad dressing (reduced fat) -- 2 Tbsp*
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) -- 1 Tbsp

* BE CAREFUL with salad dressings ... some of them have so much added sugar that you also have to count them towards your starch exchanges.

SATURATED (least desirable)
Bacon -- 1 slice
Butter -- 1 tsp
Coconut -- 2 Tbsp
Cream or half-and-half -- 2 Tbsp
Cream Cheese (regular) -- 1 Tbsp
Cream Cheese (light) -- 2 Tbsp
Shortening, lard, bacon grease, etc. -- 1 tsp
Sour Cream (regular) -- 2 Tbsp
Sour Cream (light) -- 3 Tbsp

If you don't have a list like this, please talk to your doctor's office right away and ask them how to obtain additional materials. Also, since your doctor has put you on this plan, your insurance should cover your attendance at "diabetic nutrition classes" that nearly every hospital offers. Even if you aren't diabetic, you may be able to attend. It would help you out tremendously. Or, you may want to look into joining Jenny Craig.

01-04-2005, 02:19 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone! :D The list of good and not-so-good fats is extremely helpful, funniegrrl. I am glad to see that I don't have to add a lump of butter to make up for the lack of fats in the diet - I can have peanut butter or salad dressing! :D

I should have mentioned in my first post - I'm only on this 'diet' to lose weight, not because of anything related to diabetes. My doctor and dietician gave me this booklet that is probably 30 pages. Needless to say, it's not very comprehensive in terms of combo foods. I spend roughly 30 minutes a day figuring out what I've eaten and how many bubbles that is. Too much time. I'm trying to go by the grams to bubbles guidelines listed in the booklet, but it is very confusing - sometimes vegetables are starches and dairy is meat, and carbs can be starch, milk or fruit. I think I would do better with just telling me how many fats, carbs, and calories to eat or something. I'm going to stick with it for a bit longer though..

I'll also go check for some books about the diabetic exchange. Most of the info I've found online is pretty basic - the kind of stuff that's available in the pamphlets. With Jenny Craig, I've looked into it, but it's pretty expensive from what I've seen. I can go to my nutritionist anytime because it's provided as part of the student health program here, thankfully.

Also Aphil - that's a good idea about dividing up the exchanges. I've had the most trouble eating too many fruits lately. Especially dried fruits. I ate 2 cups of banana chips because I wasn't around any good food for 7 hours. I figured banana chips, unsweetened, can't be too bad right? Well, 1/4 cup is 1 fruit! So this is just super. I'm going to try to add more eggs too, that's a good idea for meats. I love meats, I just have a hard time fitting them in on some days.

The past two days I've felt very run-down. I've been exercising, but I just feel drained. I'm going to try to add more fats from the "good fats" list, and see if that helps.

01-04-2005, 08:18 PM
Did a bit of googling and found some stuff:

Here's a site that has a hyperlinked version of the ADA Exchanges ( that you might find helpful.

The official American Diabetes Assn website ( - their exchange list info.

The ADA website also lists a plethora of cookbooks and other books - I bet you can check your local library and they'll have at least a few that you can look at for free...if you feel they're useful then you can buy 'em later. ;)

01-04-2005, 08:52 PM
Hmm, good idea about the library. Well, I think it's time to go to dig out my old library card and go researching. Good thing I'm on break. ;)

Thanks for the exchanges links too! This is actually a lot more concise than the pamphlet they gave me, which is great. :D

Thanks again MrsJim! :D

04-05-2005, 10:56 AM
How do you figure out food exchanges? Does any one know the formula on how to figure it out? and if anyone has the old ww food exchange diet please email it to me.

04-05-2005, 11:49 AM
The diabetic diet has "serving sizes" listed for the exchanges. One fruit serving would be a small piece of fruit, or 1/2 cup of juice (not a full cup!) etc. so you can search online and find one of the lists. It isn't really a "formula" like WW Flex points or anything like that. They have you eating a certain amount of servings from different food groups each day, and certain serving sizes.
The diabetic diet is in different calorie ranges (1200, 1500, 1800, etc.) depending on your needs. (male, female, needing to lose weight or maintain current weight, etc.)