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From Victoria, British Columbia, Canada:

How do British and Canadian diabetic food exchanges compare?


From a Canadian colleague who is a diabetes dietitian:

The food groups used in Canada are grouped as the "Good Health Eating Guide". The food groups are somewhat different in CHO composition than the US groups as noted. Our starch group is similar at 15 grams, but the milk group is based on only 1/2 cup portion not the 1 cup portion in the US and we consider this to be 12 grams. We have one group, the Fruits and Vegetables (Root vegetables) that counts as 10 grams. Vegetables (salad-type) that are under 2.5 g of CHO per portion are considered Extras and usually can be consumed as desired.

We certainly encourage low-glycemic foods, complex CHO and high fibre sources as the preferred CHO sources, but ensure that adequate milk and fruits and vegetables are consumed too. We encourage heart healthy fat sources.

For further information about the Good Health Eating Guide in its various formats, contact the CDA website.


Additional comments from Dr. Robertson:

The British 'exchange' system is based on 10g carbohydrate swaps or equivalences. There has been a pretty vigorous debate over the last few years about whether such a system is helpful to families or not. Many centres now teach "healthy eating". Having worked with both systems in different centres, I must say that most of the debate is about semantics. In essence, families and patients need some type of semiquantitative guide to how much of different foods to eat as well as information about healthy intake of fat, protein and minerals/vitamins. I tend to think, however, that some of the more complex systems are pseudoscientific and more to make the professionals feel in control than to empower the patients - maybe I'm just an old cynic!


Original posting 8 Oct 1998
Posted to Meal Planning, Food and Diet


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