There are a number of teaching systems available for meal planning but they are all subject to limitations. The emphasis should be on appropriate advice conveyed in the most appropriate way for a particular individual. There should not necessarily be a focus on one specific teaching system.
In the past, the main educational tool in the dietary education of people with diabetes, particularly for Type 1 diabetes, was the exchange system.
Measurement of carbohydrate intake by using an exchange system devised by R. D. Lawrence was considered to be essential for good blood glucose control. The exchange system was devised to ensure that carbohydrate was included with meals and snacks but it resulted in a restriction of carbohydrate.
People with diabetes were advised on the amount of carbohydrate they should consume by the prescription of a number of exchanges per meal or snack, over the day. The exchanges were based on units of 10 g carbohydrate and lists of foods containing 10 g were used to swap foods and vary dietary intake.
Another tool, the plate model, can be used to assess and convey the proportions of the different foods that make up the appropriate macronutrient composition of the diet. There are various adaptations including the Balance of Good Health, a national teaching model for food selection, launched in 1993 in the UK, by the Department of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Health Education Authority.
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