Exchange Meal Plan
Many people with diabetes use a food-balancing program called the exchange meal
plan to guide what they eat each day. For this meal plan, foods are divided into six
groups: starch, fruit, milk, fat, vegetable, and meat. The plan sets a serving size
(amount) for each food, and, within each group, each serving has a similar amount
of calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
This allows the person flexibility in planning meals by "exchanging" or substituting
choices from lists of foods with similar nutritional content. Using the plan to balance
the amount of carbohydrates eaten is particularly important for people with diabetes
because these are the foods that are mainly responsible for the rise in blood sugar
that occurs after eating.