Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Food Lists for Diabetes Get an Update

Nutrition guides offer new items and replace “exchanges” with “choices”

By Madelyn L. Wheeler, MS, RDN, FADA, FAND, CD, Associate Editor , , ,

Nutrition is such an essential part of diabetes management that it’s no surprise the American Diabetes Association has created many materials about what to eat. One of the most popular guides is a nutrition booklet published originally in 1950 by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). It’s now in its seventh edition as Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Diabetes. A dedicated group of dietitians volunteered and revised the booklet to reflect current eating patterns and grocery store items.

What’s the Same

  1. Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Diabetes serves as the basis for carbohydrate counting (the lists of foods containing carbohydrate continue to use 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving size).
  2. It still focuses on overall healthy food that’s good for everyone (healthy sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrate).
  3. It continues to serve as the basis for developing a healthy eating plan.
  4. The lists group foods according to similarities in food values: A single food in its given serving size within a list contains approximately the same carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calories as any of the other foods in the same list. This means that you will get about the same food value if you trade one food on the list for any other food on the same list.

What’s New

  1. After more than 60 years, the word “exchange” has been retired, replaced by the word “choice.” You’ll see that change in Diabetes Forecast recipe nutrition facts, too.
  2. The lists previously labeled “meat” are now called “protein” (lean protein, medium-fat protein, high-fat protein, and plant-based protein).
  3. The food lists reflect items that are easy to find where food is purchased and ethnic and regional food favorites.

The booklet has also inspired other helpful eating guides. To order single copies of the following publications (also available in bulk), visit or call 1-800-232-6455.

  • Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Diabetes (order #5601-13 English, #5617-07 Spanish; $2.99 ADA members/$3.89 nonmembers): The food lists make picking and choosing similar foods easy, to aid in carb counting and calorie management.
  • Count Your Carbs: Getting Started (#5623-06; $4.80/$6.75): See which foods contain carbohydrate, how much carbohydrate to eat at meals, and where to find additional carb information.
  • Match Your Insulin to Your Carbs (#5622-06; $4.80/$6.75): This booklet provides information about how to use a flexible insulin plan to match mealtime insulin doses to carbs.
  • Eating Healthy With Diabetes: An Easy Reading Guide (#5604-04; $4.80/$6.75): Picture cues for portion sizes and color codes for food types show how to put together a diabetes-friendly eating plan.
  • Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Weight Management (5603-08; $2.99/$3.89): This booklet is essentially the same as Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Diabetes, but with an emphasis on healthy weight.

What’s Your Plan?

Are you a fan of “exchanges,” an advanced carb counter, or someone who tends to guesstimate? Let us know your favorite technique for planning what you eat and why it works for you. E-mail


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