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Much of the information contained in this chapter relating to exchange values of foods is adapted and derived from: The Textbook ofNatural Medicine by Joseph Pizzorno ND and Michael Murray ND (Bastyr College Publications, Seattle, 1986), The Bioplan by Naola Van Orden Ph.D. and S. Paul Steed Ph.D. (Die I Press, New York 1983), and food-exchange lists devised by the American Diabetes Association in conjunction with the American Dietetic Association. My thanks are due to these sources, although none has been quoted directly.

Exchange Units
Exchange diets such as the ones which are described below give you the chance to select foods according to your personal tastes and preferences while staying inside a framework which guarantees balance and optimal availability of essential nutrients.

Protein and calorie content of EUs in different categories of foods
Each Dairy exchange unit*
Each Fat exchange unit
Each Fruit exchange unit
Each Grain/Starch exchange unit
Each High Protein exchange unit**
Each Vegetable exchange unit

Fat content of exchange units in different categories of foods
Category Fat
Each Dairy exchange unit*
0 to 15
Each Fat exchange unit
Fruit contains minimal fat
(except for nuts and avocado)
Grain/Starch and Vegetables
no fat
High Protein exchange units
3 to 7

* Dairy exchange units always contain protein and usually contain fat. The fat content will vary with the type of dairy product chosen and dear indications of these variations will be given in the exchange lists later in this chapter. For example: 8 oz of full fat milk carries 1 Dairy EU and 1 Eat EU, while 8 oz of skim milk carries 1 Dairy EU and no Eat EU.
**High Protein EUs are the only exchange category which contain both Fat and Protein (and in the case of pulses they contain Protein, Grain/Starch and sometimes Fat EUs).

The fat content will vary with the type of protein chosen and clear indications of both protein and fat content (in grams and EUs) will be given in the exchange lists later in this chapter. For example: loz of veal chop contains 7 grams of protein (1 Protein EU) and 3 grams of fat (around half of a Fat EU). loz of loin steak contains 7 grams of protein (1 Protein EU) and 6 grams of fat (1 Fat EU). Half a cup of lentils contains 1 High Protein EU and 1 Grain/Starch EU.

You should use these lists to calculate your daily protein and fat intakes, in terms of grams per kilo of your present body weight (these have to match the needs dictated by your present body weight - see the previous chapter for the method of calculating these important needs).

If you calculated from your body weight that you require between 48 and 60 grams of protein daily (this would be the right range for someone weighing 60 kilos/1321b/9.5 stone) then stay within that range of 48 to 60 grams of protein daily, if at all possible, not having less than 48 grams or more than 60 grams in any given day. This 'range' is an important feature since it allows you to be quite flexible in your choices, and avoids the need to have a slide rule and calculator handy each time you are making up the day's dietary content. The flexibility of having a range into which to fit both fat and protein intake allows you a wide choice of foods.

1,800 calorie per day pattern
If you are under 50 and over 20, if your health status allows (see the caution at the start of the previous chapter) and if you wish to follow a calorie restriction diet, you can choose this or the 2,000 calorie per day pattern.

g fat/day
g protein/day
varies with
High Protein

This exchange pattern, as it stands, provides almost 1,800 calories daily with a protein and fat intake suitable for a person of around 70 kilos (1541b/11 stone). Flexibility remains for some variation in choice of foods from the Dairy category, say including a full-fat yogurt instead of a low-fat one, which would raise the fat intake (in terms of numbers of grams).

Since a 70 kilo individual is allowed up to 42 grams daily (70 x 0.6) of fat and the intake in this example gives just 36 grams, an acceptable increase within the framework of the diet.

Note: Before doing any calculations which adjust EU amounts in order to comply with protein and fat requirements take note of the following cautions: Try never to have more than 2.5 EUs in the Dairy category or less than 1.5. Try also never to have more than 6 EUs in the fat category or less than 4.

What do you do if you weigh only 60 kilos?
A number of adjustments are needed to the framework given in this list in order to meet the protein and fat requirements of anyone who weighs 60 kilos (1321b/9.5 stone). Your protein intake should range between (60 x 0.8) 48 grams and (60 x 1.0) 60 grams. The diet above offers 69 grams so we have to change the EU selections in order to lose at least 9 grams.

Since a 60 kilo person should have a range between (60 x 0.4 24 grams and (60 x 0.6) 36 grams of fat daily, and since the example above provides 36 grams you would therefore be on the upper limit of fat intake, with little leeway for choice in dairy produce (it would all have to be low-fat or skimmed milk in origin).

Aslight modification of the pattern would therefore be a good idea to bring the fat intake down a little for a 60 kilo person. We could, for example, cut the High Protein intake from 3.5 to 2.5 EUs. This would trim 60 calories, 7 grams of protein and about 2 grams of fat off the totals. That would nicely get protein down to an acceptable level (almost) of 62 grams, as well as bringing fat intake to 34 grams daily, allowing a little flexibility in choice of dairy foods.

But having cut 60 calories off your total of (almost) 1,800, by moving from 3.5 to 2.5 EUs of High Protein, we have to try to get the calorie numbers up again. One way in which this could be easily achieved would be by increasing Fruit from 10 to 12 EUs, which raises the total by 80 calories (and adds no fat or protein).

What about someone who weighs more?
What are the requirements in terms of protein and fat for someone weighing 85 kilos (1871b/13.5 stone) in order to meet the needs described in the previous chapter? If your weight is 85 kilos you need between (85 x 0.8 = 68) 68 grams and (85 x 1.0 = 85) 85 grams of protein daily. You also need to ensure a fat intake of between 34 (85 x 0.4 = 34) and 51 (85 x 0.6 = 51) grams. As you can see all these requirements are met by the EU suggestions in the list above (for a 70 kilo person)

What about someone weighing around 90 kilos?
For a 90 kilo (1981b/14 stone) person we would need to make adjustments after calculating their protein and fat requirements:

    90 x 0.8 = 72 grams
    90 x 1.0 = 90 grams

    72 to 90 grams per day is the range of protein requirements.

    90 x 0.4 = 36 grams
    90 x 0.6 = 54 grams

    36 to 54 grams per day is the range of fat requirements for a 90 kilo person.

How can we adjust the EU suggestions above and still maintain a harmonious balance? For the 90 kilo person we could take the High Protein category from 3.5 to 4 EUs which would:

  1. Increase protein by 3.5 grams, which takes it to 72.5 grams (just enough to meet requirements).

  2. Increase fat intake by 1.5 grams to 37.5 grams, which keeps it well within the requirements (36 to 54 grams).

  3. Take calories up by 30 to a fraction over 1,800 (1,815) which is acceptably close to our target.

So we can see that very little adjustment is needed in terms of EU selections in order to meet the needs of anyone weighing anything from 60 and 90 kilos, a fairly wide catchment range which should suit most people. However, there will be exceptions above or below the levels we have considered (60 to 90 kilos) who may need to carefully play about (on paper) with the choices open to them in order to arrive at a formula which will meet the needs dictated by their particular weight requirements.

General guidance on varying numbers of EUs in different categories

  • You cannot eat too much in the way of fruit and vegetables, unless in doing so you increase calorie intake beyond the limits set by the diet. Therefore, if you need to increase calorie intake you can alter the number of EUs in either of these categories (Fruit, Vegetables) with only marginal effects on protein (in the case of vegetables) and no effect at all on fat.

  • The Grain/Starch category is also useful in order to alter calorie intake without having much impact on protein (2 grams of protein per EU), or any effect on fat.

  • Do not take the Dairy intake above 2.5 or below 1.5 EUs and do not take fat intake below 4 or above 6 EUs without expert advice.

  • The High Protein levels should never exceed 6 EUs but can easily be eliminated altogether in a vegetarian option which increases vegetable protein combinations (pulses/grains/ seeds).

  • If you are careful about combinations of Grains/Starches and vegetarian High Proteins (beans etc.) so that you eat both cereals and pulses (bean family) or seeds (sunflower/ pumpkin etc.) at the same meal, you can safely reduce the meat intake from the High Protein category intake drastically, even eliminating it if you become fully vegetarian.

It is within these guidelines that you need to adjust your food intake and selections as weight reduces, or if your weight is above or below the levels used in the examples above, in order to meet the ideal intakes of protein and fat per kilo for your body weight.

What happens as you reduce in weight?
When you lose weight it is necessary to keep modifying the pattern of diet in order to meet the protein and fat requirements dictated by your new weight, always trying not to lose sight of the target of achieving balance, as given in the EU suggestions. The High Protein area is the one which can most easily be reduced with the 'slack' being taken up by adding EUs from the Fruit, Vegetable and Grain/Starch groups to make up for calories lost in reducing High Protein EUs.

Other nutrient content of the diet
The outlined diet based on exchange units will provide, in addition to adequate protein and fat, far more calcium (50 per cent more), iron, vitamin A (more than double), vitamin C (50 per cent more) and important B vitamins than the current recommended daily allowances issued by health authorities in the US and UK. The fiber content will automatically be high on this type of diet, which is essential for bowel health. The chances of malnutrition on such a diet are nil, if the guidelines are followed, as are the chances of toxicity from too much of any of these.

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 About The Author
Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
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