Go figure! Forget calculator with food exchange plan


Unless you carry a calculator, and evaluate everything you eat, it's pretty difficult to figure out how to choose a diet that contains the currently recommended "30 percent or less of calories from fat."

One approach that will get you into the ballpark without constant calculations is the exchange system of food selection. It's been used for ages by diabetics and, more recently, by most of the commercial diet programs. It's the "one from column A, two from column B" method.

Foods are divided into groups that offer similar nutrition and portions that offer comparable calories.

The milk group includes 8 ounces of skim milk, 1 ounce of non-fat cheese, or 8 ounces of non-fat yogurt. The non-fat milk exchanges contain no fat.

Lean meat means 1 ounce, cooked weight, of any lean beef, pork or lamb; 1 ounce of chicken, turkey, fish or shellfish, or one egg, or 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans. Each ounce provides 3 grams of fat.

Medium-fat meat provides 5 grams of fat per ounce and includes ground beef, most steak, most pork and lamb, veal cutlet, chicken with skin, ground turkey and egg.

Each ounce of high-fat meat provides 8 grams of fat, and includes all prime beef, corned beef, spareribs, pork sausage, fried fish, regular cheese, luncheon meats, sausages, hot dogs and peanut butter.

Fruit equals one medium-sized serving of fruit, such as an apple, orange, or small banana, or 1/2 cup of canned juice-packed fruit.

Vegetables include 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked of all the non-starchy varieties.

Starches include one slice of any kind of bread; half a bagel, English muffin, hot dog or hamburger roll; 1 cup of flaked cold cereal; 1/2 cup hot

cereal; or 1/2 cup of rice, corn, peas, limas or potatoes.

Fats provide 5 grams per small serving and equal 1 teaspoon butter, margarine, mayonnaise, or cooking oil; or a tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, diet margarine, or salad dressing.

A 1,200-calorie diet, typically used by women for weight loss, would be limited to the following choices to remain below 30 percent of calories from fat:

Skim dairy: 2 servings

Lean meat: 4 ounces

Fruits: 3 servings

Vegetables: 3 servings

Starches: 5 servings

Fats: 6 servings

A 2,000-calorie diet, which would be appropriate for women maintaining weight, or for men trying to lose weight, would expand to the following choices and still provide only 30 percent of calories from fat:

Skim dairy: 2 servings

Lean meat: 6 ounces

Fruits: 6 servings

Vegetables: 7 servings

Starches: 6 servings

Fats: 9 servings

A 3,000-calorie diet, appropriate for most men to maintain their weight, would contain much more food, and much more fat, and still be below 30 percent of calories from fat.

Skim dairy: 2 servings

Lean meat: 7 ounces

Fruits: 6 servings

Vegetables: 7 servings

Starches: 15 servings

Fats: 16 servings

On the 3,000-calorie pattern, some of the fats could be used to substitute low-fat or whole milk dairy products, or to substitute medium-fat or high-fat meats, or to include occasional high-fat snack foods or fast foods.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

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