Catering Glossary

exchange system

The exchange system helps those with diabetes to maintain a well-balanced and carefully controlled diet. The goal is to keep the carbohydrate intake constant and to provide controlled amounts of nutrients throughout the day. 

Foods are divided into six groups based on the amounts of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates contained:

  • Bread/Starch group/exchange 
  • Fruit group/exchange 
  • Vegetable group/exchange 
  • Milk group/exchange 
  • Meat/Protein group/exchange 
  • Fat group/exchange 

A serving of food within each group is approximately equal, although not identical, in calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate to a serving of another food in that group and thus may be "exchanged".