If you’re unfamiliar with it, the diabetic exchange system groups foods with similar nutritional qualities into categories that can be used for meal planning. Each item, in a particular portion, can be exchanged for another item in the same category in its related portion. It’s like the Garanimals of food, and I’m Lovin’ It!
At this point in my maintenance program, I eat one meal and one snack a day based on the exchange system in addition to meal replacements. Each meal consists of the following:
- 3 Protein Exchanges
- 1 Starch/Carb Exchange
- 1-1.5 Non-Starchy Vegetable Exchanges
- 1 Fruit Exchange
- 1 Fat Exchange
Each of the plates below was created based on this system.
The top plate is baked salmon with quinoa and steamed asparagus and carrots. The bottom plate is apricot-glazed pork loin, steamed red potatoes, carrots, and green beans. Both plates contain 3 proteins, 1 carbohydrate, and 1-2 vegetables. I’m still working on controlling my vegetable portions, but if you’re going to over-do it, why not do it with vegetables?
I’m loving working within this system for several reasons. First of all, I work within frameworks well — I love systems. Second, I can get inspiration for what to eat from the exchange lists. I decided to have my “snack” for breakfast this morning, which consists of a starch and a fat. Looking at the list, I chose oatmeal with reduced-fat margarine, which wouldn’t have come to mind without the help of the exchange list. Additionally, I like the portion guidance that the exchange system provides.
My initial hesitancies and fears of making the transition to conventional foods have been calmed by just jumping in there and doing the work. Having my dietitian available for advice and inspiration has been unbelievably helpful, too. When it comes time to make the switch to conventional food, have no fear. This is completely doable, and actually quite a bit of fun!