Creating A Food Plan: Serving Sizes & Food Exchanges

Creating A Food Plan: Servings Sizes and Food Exchanges

Please note: This is not to be considered medical advice. I am merely passing on information that I have accumulated over the years. Everyone is unique and has their own personal experience. For any questions or concerns, I recommend consulting your health care provider.

Over the years, nutrition has been an area of interest. I spend a lot of time helping others professionally and personally eat a healthy diet and maintain a proper body weight.

When Yaffa was a baby until age 8, she was failure to thrive and on a feeding tube. We spend a lot of time calculating every calorie, in our effort to help her grow and thrive.

Now that Raizel is a teenager, she is eating better. But, for the longest time, we struggled to achieve healthy growth and development with her too.

My husband is one of the fortunate few for whom maintaining a healthy body weight is not a struggle. But, health maintenance is a priority.

After my pregnancies, it was a struggle to find a food plan that worked for me. Pregnancy was certainly not good for my waistline!

As I was preparing to write this post, I think I inadvertently “bit off more than I could chew,” if you will pardon the pun. I have come to understand just how confusing it is to create an easy and healthy food plan. There is so much conflicting and confusing information!

The original exchange plan, developed for diabetics, and used by many weight loss programs is the easiest and healthiest food plan method to use. It is based on individual food categories, which include Grain/Starch, Protein, Fruit, Vegetables, Milk, Fat and Other Carbohydrates (includes sweets and alcohol). Within each category, one may substitute or exchange one portion of food for another.

Using this method, one can create an individualized food plan to accommodate one’s specific needs and lifestyle. Menu planning is flexible, easy and still nutritious.

Simple is best!

Principles For Healthy Eating 

I have integrated the concept of food exchanges with my own personal views of health and well-being.

As I listed above in my picture, I believe that healthy eating includes:

・Balancing intake in all food groups

・Little or no refined sugars or flours

・Using whole grains

・No artificial flavors, sweeteners,

・No dyes, additives or preservatives

・No hydrogenated oils/fats

・Limiting animal protein to <6 oz./day

In my experience, white flour and sugar affect the mood and feelings of well-being in people who are sensitive. I call this being “carbohydrate sensitive.” For “carbohydrate sensitive” people, refined flour, sugar and even fruit can trigger mood swings. Therefore, in my food exchange lists, I have calculated serving sizes based on whether or not someone is carbohydrate sensitive or not.  For ease, I suggest sticking to either one or the other and to be consistent.

I am a slightly carbohydrate sensitive person. I personally avoid refined sugar and flour. For this reason, I also prefer to eat vegetables over fruit. I believe that this has made a world of difference for me. I attribute part of my ability to cope with the stress of having special needs children to my diet.

Other people find it difficult to digest fat. For this reason, I believe in eating healthy, preferably unsaturated fats. We do not eat  products with partially-hydrogenated fats/oils.

My daughter used to be on the Feingold Diet. From this, we learned to eliminate dyes, additives, preservatives and artificial flavors including artificial sweeteners from our diet. In people who are sensitive, artificial flavors, dyes and preservative function as what I call “neurotoxins.”  I loved the Feingold Diet. I found that it did wonders for my daughter!

Finally, I believe in limiting animal protein– eggs, fish, poultry and meat to no more than 6 oz. per day. Other protein sources should be plant-based or dairy.

Personally, I am allergic to dairy, and I use milk from other sources.

I think that I want a little over board, but, I made the pictures to help clarify what the choices are within each food category.


Dairy Servings



• 1-3 servings/day (optional)

• Are you carb sensitive?

• If yes, then 1 serving is:

– 8 oz milk

– 6 oz yogurt

If NOT carb sensitive, 1 serving is:

– 8 oz milk/ 6 oz. yogurt

– 4 oz. cottage cheese,

– 2 oz. hard cheese.



Protein subtle


• 6-13 or more servings /day

• Limit animal protein to 3-6 oz./day

• Are you carb sensitive?

• IF NOT THEN: 1 oz. fish, chicken , cottage cheese, meat, 1 egg, 1.5 oz. tofu/cooked beans, ½ oz. nuts, ½ oz. hard cheese

• IF YES THEN 1 serving is 1 oz. chicken, fish or meat, 1 egg, 2 oz. cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, ¼ cup or 2 oz. cooked beans, 1 oz. regular tofu or 2 oz. soft/silken tofu, 1 Tbs. peanut butter, 1 oz. nuts & hard cheese = 2 oz. protein

• Super Carb Sensitive? Count legumes as a carbohydrate

• In this diet, red meat is eaten no more than 1/week; chicken, fish & eggs are eaten 2-3 times per week. Therefore,1-2 meals /day must be vegan or plant-based.


Grain Servings Suble


• 1-8 servings/day

• 1 serving is 1 oz. raw cereal or grain

• Are you carb sensitive?

• Not carb sensitive then 1 serving is 1 slice bread, ½ cooked pasta, potatoes, rice, 1 oz. dry cereal, 4 oz. cooked potatoes, yams; 3 oz. cooked grains

• Carb sensitive: ½ cup cooked corn, peas, winter squash and other starchy vegetables

• Super carb sensitive? ½ cup (4 oz.) beans as a starch, rather than a protein.

• Recommend whole grains and limited refined flours. And recommend whole grain cereal, bread and pasta.

Vegetable Servings Subtle outline



• 4-8 servings/day

• 1 serving is: 1 cup (4 oz. weighed) raw vegetables or ½ cup (3 oz. weighed) cook vegetables.

• Are you carb sensitive?

• IF NOT then include starchy vegetables, i.e., corn, peas, and winter squash as vegetable servings.

• If yes, then consume only low-starch vegetables as vegetable servings.

• If carb sensitive, then count peas, corn and winter squash as a starch/grain serving.

• Eat a variety of colors and types; include dark, leafy green vegetables daily.

Fruit Servings Subtle


• 1-5 Servings/day

• 1 serving is 6 oz. (1 cup) of cut-up fresh fruit.

• ¾ cups or 6 oz. frozen, unsweetened fruit (after thawing)

• 2 oz. dried fruit (use sparingly)

• 1 moderate piece of fruit

• ½ cup canned fruit packed in its own juices

• Are you carb sensitive? Avoid cherries, grapes, pineapple, bananas & dried fruit

• Can substitute 1 fruit for 2 vegetable servings.

• Eat a variety of colors and types.

Fat Servings Subltle


• 2 – 3 servings/day

• 1 serving is 1 Tablespoon or .5 oz and equals 15-21 grams of fat

• Other sources of fat: 2 oz. avocado, 2 Tbs. cream cheese, 2 Tbs. shredded coconut, 1 Tbs. mayonnaise

• Use unsaturated fat or oil. Avoid saturated fats like margarine and butter.

Other food groups subtle

Other food groups

Alcohol (optional)

• 1 serving/day for women

• 2 servings/day for men

​​This is optional and considered a grain or sugar.

Sugar (optional)

• 0-5 servings per week

• 1 Tbs. sugar, jelly, jam, ½ cup sorbet and ices, 1 cup lemonade

• Use sparingly

Putting It All Together: I have more data and information on daily food requirements and creating your own food plan, but, I believe in not overwhelming people with too much information. So, I will post more on this later.

Thank you all for reading this! I know that it was a lot of information.

References: There are more, but this is a beginning

















Please note: This is not to be considered medical advice. I am merely passing on information that I have accumulated over the years. Everyone is unique and has their own personal experience. For any questions or concerns, I recommend consulting your health care provider.



24 thoughts on “Creating A Food Plan: Serving Sizes & Food Exchanges

  1. jncthedc says:

    You put a lot of work into this post. The charts simplify things for most people. I hope these charts provide the missing pieces people need to improve the eating lifestyle. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. White House Red Door says:

    This is wonderful information to share! The less processed food we eat the better. I like to think of Michael Pollan’s advice… don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize; don’t buy anything with more than 5 ingredients; mostly shop the perimeter of the grocery store; cook, when and if you can. The last is easy for me because I love to cook, but so many people don’t because they don’t know how or feel pressed for time. I’d love to see schools bringing home ec back, so people can learn to shop, budget, and get in the kitchen! Again, thank you for the time and effort you put into pulling this together. Great message!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. IreneDesign2011 says:

    Very good advices, as you found are working good for your family. I have had problems with allergies for both my kids and myself and learned how to make everything from scratch many years ago. I try my best to continue that way. I can’t stand soya, which make it difficult, when I wish to avoid other kind of food.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Osyth says:

    Another excellent reference (and further references) to explore. Thank you so much for putting this together … it is a minefield for most of us and having it set down simply is hugely helpful. I am carbohydrate sensitive (I like this label) as are my daughters. I have sent a link to each of them as they too will find this helpful. Namaste 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.