1500 Calorie Diabetic Diet

Here’s another 1500 calorie diet called the 1500 calorie diabetic diet. Since this is a diet specific to people with diabetes, if you do have it then you might need to speak to a proper dietitian before you try it. You can use several methods to reach your 1500 calorie goal. Two common methods are the diabetic exchange system and carbohydrate (“carb”) counting.

Diabetic Exchanges

The exchange system groups foods into one of six different categories: starch, meat and meat substitutes, vegetables, fruits, milk, and fats. Serving for serving, foods in each of these categories have similar amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. This means that each food in a particular category can be “exchanged” for another food in that same category. Giving you a lot of interoperability between them.

Here is a typical breakdown of these categories for a 1500 calorie diet that is based on 50% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 30% fat:

Starches Lean Meats Vegetables Fruits Low Fat (1%) Milk Fats
Breakfast 2 0 0 1 1 0
Lunch 2 2 2 0 0 2
Snack 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Dinner 3 3 1 1 0 1
Snack 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
TOTAL 7 5 3 3 2 3

Carbohydrate (or “Carb”) Counting

The foods that raise blood sugar the most are those that are high in carbohydrates (eg, starches, sugars, milk, fruit, and sweets.) Carbohydrate counting is particularly useful for people who take insulin shots, since it allows you to balance food intake with insulin—the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be, and the more insulin you will need. Of course, you should always ask your doctor before adjusting insulin doses on your own.

Because carbohydrate counting focuses only on the carbohydrates in different foods, it allows for more flexibility than the exchange system. The foods listed in the starch, fruit, and milk exchange lists contain the same amount of carbohydrates per serving—15 grams.

This is about the amount of carbohydrate in one slice of bread, ¾ cup dry, unsweetened cereal, ½ cup of pasta, one cup of milk, or one small piece of fresh fruit. Since they have similar effects on your blood sugar, they can also be “exchanged” since they are generally considered “carbohydrate servings.” For example, you may trade one starch serving for one fruit or milk serving.

Most people with diabetes should consume between 45% to 65% of their calories as carbohydrates (and the rest from fat and protein). Remember, a registered dietitian can help you determine and calculate the best individualized meal plan for you.

On a 1,200-calorie diet that is 50% carbohydrate, you can have a total of 12 servings of carbohydrate per day. How you distribute these servings will affect your blood sugar and should, therefore, be kept consistent from day to day. But, you can adjust it as necessary to keep blood sugars within your target range.

The bottom line is you should space out your carbohydrate servings into at least three meals per day. In addition, the more fiber the carbohydrates contain, the better the effect on your blood sugar. The below table shows examples of different ways that these 12 carbohydrates could be distributed:

Sample 1,500-Calorie Diet Menu

Breakfast 4 3 4 2 3 3 0
AM Snack 0 0 0 2 2 1 3
Lunch 4 4 5 2 3 3 3
PM Snack 0 0 0 2 1 1 0
Dinner 4 5 3 4 3 4 4
Evening Snack 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
TOTAL CARBS 12 12 12 12 12 12 12

Keep in mind that when carb counting, foods consisting mainly of protein and fat (eg, meat, margarine) should be eaten in moderation even though they are not technically counted. If they are eaten in excess, you may exceed 1,500 calories and gain weight.

The article on the Diabetic Exchange Diet lists the average carbohydrate content of different foods and food categories. There are books available that provide more comprehensive carbohydrate count lists. In addition, most packaged foods have labels that list their carbohydrate counts.

Food labels are the most accurate way to determine the carbohydrate count of a food. If you eat many high fiber foods, you may want to talk to a dietitian about label reading to learn how to subtract the “dietary fiber” grams from the “total carbohydrate” grams. The body doesn’t absorb fiber, so it doesn’t affect your blood sugar. However, it is counted in the “total carbohydrates.” This subtraction gives you a more accurate estimate of the carbohydrates that will affect your blood.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
¾ cup unsweetened cereal

8 ounces 1% or skim milk

1 slice whole-grain toast

2 teaspoons light jam or jelly

½ grapefruit

Tea or coffee

1 cup romaine lettuce

½ cup shredded carrots

¼ cup sliced tomatoes

¼ cup sliced cucumbers

2 ounces grilled chicken

2 tablespoons low-fat dressing

1 (6-inch) whole-wheat pita

Mineral water

3 ounces baked salmon (made with 1 teaspoon olive oil)

1 cup brown rice

½ cup zucchini (sautéed in 1 teaspoon olive oil)

1¼ cup strawberries

2 tablespoons light or fat-free whipped topping

Mineral water

Snack 1 Snack 2
6 ounces low-fat yogurt (plain or sweetened with nonnutritive sweetener) 1 cup cubed cantaloupe

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