What are the risks of meal planning with diabetes exchanges?

Amy Campbell
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Using the exchange system for meal planning can be a very helpful and nutritionally balanced way to plan your meals and help you manage your diabetes. There really are no risks involved with using this approach, although some people may initially find it to be confusing. With exchanges, foods are groups into different categories:  starches, fruits, milk, other carbs, vegetables, meat/protein and fat. A dietitian will help determine how many servings or "exchanges" you need from each of the food groups. You can exchange foods within a particular food group. For example, instead of one slice of bread, you might eat 1/3 cup of rice. Many people do quite well with this meal planning approach although others find carbohydrate counting to be somewhat easier and more flexible.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.