Benefits Of American Diabetes Association Diet

The benefit of using the American Diabetes Association Diet involves its ability to assist diabetics in creating a balanced yet diverse diet that effectively regulates blood glucose levels. This particular American Diabetes Association Diet establishes an adequate amount of daily calories for a diabetic, along with proportionate servings of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, by describing which diabetes-friendly foods can be substituted by foods belonging to six categories:

  • Fats
  • Fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Vegetables
  • Starches and bread
  • Meats

Basic Instructions for Using the Exchange Diet

Food exchanges explained by the American Diabetes Association Exchange Diet depend on aspects of a diabetic’s overall health program, such as how much exercise they perform each day, when insulin injections are needed, whether the diabetic is overweight and needs to lose weight and status of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Each food item in each separate exchange list can be substituted by other foods in that list but not with foods contained in another list, regardless of their calorie counts.

With the exception of the fruit list, doubling or tripling the food choices on the list meets certain dietary requirements. For example, two starches equal one cup of oatmeal, while two meats equal two ounces of hamburger.

The American Diabetes Association Exchange Diet considers foods that contain less than 20 calories “free.” Unless otherwise specified, these “free” foods can be consumed in any amount at any time of the day. They include:

  • Bouillon
  • Club soda
  • Carb-free flavored water
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Mustard and horseradish
  • Almond, vanilla and peppermint flavoring extract
  • Herbs
  • Pimento
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sugar-free gelatin
  • Salad greens

Exchange List Categories

blood glucose levelsThe six categories of foods in this American Diabetes Association Diet are:

  • Cheeses and meats—Size of portions on this list are usually one ounce, with three ounces of cooked meat equaling four ounces of raw meat. High-fat exchanges should be used no more than three times each week. Meats are placed in low-fat, medium-fat and high-fat substitute categories.
  • Breads and starches—Exchanges considered breads and starches have three protein grams, 15 carbohydrate grams and a minute amount of fat, equaling 80 calories each. In this category, 1/2 cup of pasta, grains or oatmeal is equal to one exchange. One serving is exactly an ounce of a bread item.
  • Substitutes and dairy products—One exchange of dairy product or substitute is eight ounces or one cup. Diabetics needing to lose weight should consume only skim or fat-free milk, while all diabetics should not drink milk products that have been artificially sweetened.
  • Sugars and fruits—In the American Diabetes Association Exchange Diet lists, total carb count includes all natural sugars, which should be no more than ten percent of carbohydrates consumed each day. Each fruit and sugar exchange has around 15 carbohydrate grams, which amounts to 60 calories.
  • Fats—One exchange of fat equals about one teaspoon. Diabetics and everyone else should limit intake of saturated fats and eat unsaturated fats instead. Healthy fats include olive oil, flaxseed oil and oil found in sardines, salmon, anchovies and herring.
  • Non-starchy vegetables—Each exchange of 1/2 cup cooked or one cup raw vegetables in this category has about 25 calories. These vegetables include spinach, celery, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and green beans.

Healthy Ways to Cook Food for a Diabetic Diet

Basic ways to prepare the food in the diet:

  • Use fat-free dressing, sauces and dips.
  • To enhance flavor, steam vegetables in broth or mix with chopped garlic and onion.
  • Sprinkle food with spices or herbs while cooking.
  • Add zest to meat dishes with lime or lemon juice.
  • Trim off all extra fat on meat portions.
  • Cook meat and vegetables by broiling, microwaving, steaming, grilling or stir-frying.
  • Read food labels carefully.
  • Use cooking spray.

For newly diagnosed diabetics, using the American Diabetes Association Diet is a great way to begin formulating a personal diabetic diet and learning what foods to eat and which prevent possible medical complications resulting from high blood glucose levels.



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