Whether you are looking to manage sugar levels or trying to lose weight, planning an interesting diet can be a challenge.  Most people would be advised to give up certain foods to achieve weight loss or sugar control. In recent times however, it is impractical to expect people to completely avoid or give up eating favourite foods, at least once in a while!  Moreover, diet plans can become monotonous and boring with same kind of foods planned every day.  Exchange lists are designed by qualified and registered dietitians to help bring in more flexibility in diets and help each person customize his or her plan with the help of these.  Many famous dietitians would recommend the use of exchange list as a means of avoiding boredom in following a monotonous diet.

Exchange lists group separate foods under each category of foods, such as cereal group, fruit group, snacks group, pulses and dal and so on.  All foods within a group are standardized to give same amount of calories and carbohydrates. Carbohydrate counting is of more significance for diabetics, while counting calories and fats is of more importance for weight loss.

You can substitute any food in a group with any other, in the given amount.  For example, 1 chapatti can be substituted with any of the below to give the same amount of calories:

  • 1 thepla
  • 1 khakhra
  • 2 medium bread slices
  • 1 idli with sambar
  • 1 dosa made on non-stick tawa with sambar

Another example:  All of these provide the same amount of calories.

3 cups of no fat popcorn = Boiled corn ½ cup = 25 grams of baked chips

Here are some exchange lists that will give you an idea of how to make your diets more flexible. However, this is not a substitute for a prescription or a consultation from qualified dietitian, who would plan a diet based on any other coexisting medical conditions and a doctor’s prescription. It is always better to avoid or limit junk foods and foods high in saturated fats and sugars for overall health!

Fruit exchange list

This is of significance to diabetics who need to monitor their carbohydrate intake closely.  They are often told to avoid fruits, but that is a misconception. By using the exchange list, carbohydrate intake can be regulated, without avoiding any seasonal fruit.

All fruits in this exchange list, in the specified amount provide 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates and 40 – 50 calories.

  • Banana – half big or one small
  • Chickoo – 1 small
  • Mango – half medium sized (75 grams)
  • Sitaphal – half big size (50 grams)
  • Grapes – 15 pieces
  • Apple – 1 small with skin
  • Pineapple – ¾ cup chopped
  • Dates (fresh) – 3
  • Orange or musambi – 1 small
  • Papaya cubes – 1 cup


Cereal exchange list

15 grams carb, 3 grams protein, 80 calories –

  • Bread – 1 slice
  • Corn or wheat flakes – ½ cup
  • Idli plain – 3 inches round – 1
  • Pulka – 1 (6 inches)
  • Plain dosa –1
  • Rice – 1/3 cup white
  • Muesli – ¼ cup
  • Oats – ½ cup
  • Pasta – ½ cup cooked
  • Puffed rice – 11/2 cups

Cereal exchange list

Lentils exchange list

  • Rajma beans cooked ½ cup
  • Peas ½ cup
  • Dals ½ cup

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Snacks and treats exchange list

600 calories and 20 grams of saturated fat –

  • Veg burger – 1
  • Pizza (small pan with veg toppings) – 1
  • Pavbhaji – 1 plate

400 – 450 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat –

  • Sevpuri– 1 plate
  • Puribhaji – 1 plate
  • Samosa – 2 big
  • Vada – 3 big
  • Chicken Frankie – 1
  • French fries – 1 big cup


However, it’s always best to consult a dietitian or a wellness coach who’ll help you know more about how to use exchange lists to add more variety and balance to your diet plan! If you like this article then don’t forget to like and share. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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