Meal planning includes choosing healthy foods, eating the right amount of food, and eating meals at the right time. The American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association developed 6 food exchange lists for the purpose of meal planning for people with diabetes as part of a diabetes diet. The 6 lists for a diabetes diet are: starch or bread, meat and substitutes, vegetables, fruits, milk or dairy, and fat. Every food on the list has approximately the same amount of carbohydrate, fat, protein, and calories for the amount given.

Any food on the diabetes diet list can be exchanged for any other food on the same list. The food exchange lists also show the number of food choices that can be eaten at each meal and snack. Using the foods on the exchange list (along with a personal meal plan designed by a registered dietitian or nutritional counselor) will control the distribution of calories throughout the day so that food and insulin will be balanced.

Meal plans for a diabetes diet differ depending on the type of diabetes. With insulin-dependent diabetes (Type I), consistency in the time meals are eaten and the amounts and types of food eaten is very important to allow food and insulin to work together to regulate blood-glucose levels. If meals and insulin are out of balance, extreme variations in blood glucose can occur. In non insulin-dependent diabetes, weight control is the most important principle in addition to a well-balanced diet. Consultation with a dietitian or nutrition counselor or your medical practitioner is an invaluable tool for planning meals and controlling a diabetes diet. They can also advise you on long term maintenance diet plans and make recommendations for regular exercise options.

Azuc Sangi is the owner of Diabetes IT which is a premier resource for diabetes information. for more information, go to diabetesit.com

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