The American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association developed the diabetic exchange diet to help manage weight and blood sugar for the diabetic. The diet divides foods into groups based on similarities in calorie and carbohydrate contents. Food items within each group can be exchanged for one another. The 1,800-calorie diabetic diet is appropriate for active women and men with diabetes. You should consult your doctor before starting this or any other diet plan.
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Starches are a major source of carbohydrate in the diet. Diabetics need to control the amount of starch in their diets to help control blood sugar. Whole grains offer a better option than refined grains, so you should consider options carefully. If you follow the 1,800-calorie diabetic exchange diet, you can have 10 starch exchanges a day. A starch exchange is equal to a 1 ounce bagel, half an English muffin, one slice of bread, 3/4 cup of cold cereal, 1/2 cup of peas or corn, 1/2 cup of sweet or white potato, five crackers and 1/3 cup of rice or pasta.
Fruits are also a source of carbohydrates in the diet. Diabetics following the 1,800-calorie diabetic exchange diet can have three fruit exchanges a day. A fruit exchange is equal to 1 small apple or orange, 4 ounces of banana, 12 cherries, 17 grapes, 1/2 cup unsweetened canned fruit, 2 tablespoons of dried fruit, 1 cup of melon or 1/2 cup of orange juice. Diabetics should choose whole fruit over the juice because the added fiber in the fruit helps to control hunger and prevents blood sugar spikes.
Milk and Yogurt
Low-fat and fat-free milk and yogurts are recommended for the diabetic to limit their intake of saturated fat, and the risk of heart disease. Two milk and yogurt exchanges are recommended a day on the 1,800-calorie diabetic exchange diet. An exchange is equal to one cup of milk and 6 oz. of plain or diet yogurt.
Meat and Meat Substitutes
Meats are also a source of saturated fat in the diet. Lean meat choices are recommended to limit both fat and calorie intake. You are allowed seven meat exchanges are allowed on the 1,800-calorie diabetic diet. A meat exchange is equal to 1 ounce of beef, pork, poultry or fish, 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or egg substitute and two egg whites.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calorie and high in nutrition and are an important part of a diabetic diet, says the University of Arkansas. People following the 1,800-calorie diabetic diet can have three vegetable exchanges a day. An exchange is equal to 1 cup of raw or a half cup of cooked vegetable. Non-starchy vegetables include artichokes, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, eggplant and spinach.
People following the 1,800-calorie diabetic diet can have three fat exchanges a day. Unsaturated fats such as those found in oils and nuts are better choices for heart health. A fat exchange is equal to 1 teaspoon of margarine, butter, oil or mayonnaise, 10 peanuts, 6 cashews, 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise 2 tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing or one bacon strip.