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Diabetic Exchange List vs. Jenny’s Grocery List

By Sarah S – Jenny Craig

A healthy diabetic weight loss program consists of eating a variety of foods that contain the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, as well as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whether you are using Jenny’s Grocery List or the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Diabetic Exchange List, you can learn to eat a nutritionally balanced diet. The original use of the Diabetic Exchange list was to help people with diabetes meal plan and choose safe foods that would keep their blood sugar at a safe level.


Diabetic exchanges can be a helpful tool to see which foods you can or cannot switch out for one another. Once you understand the food exchange system, knowing what you can and cannot eat will be a piece of cake. By using the diabetic food exchange list, you can keep your meals diversified while still staying on track with your diet goals. You can use the Diabetic diet as a reference point during your meal planning and preparation as long as you also reference the Jenny Craig grocery list.


If you are familiar with the 13 food groups in the ADA Diabetic Exchange List, you may notice a slight difference in the food groups Jenny Craig uses. Jenny Craig condenses the 13 food groups on the diabetic exchange diet to 6 groups to make it easier to understand. You can still use the diabetic food exchange, however, you have to make sure you follow the proper equivalency when transferring it over to the Jenny Craig system.


Jenny’s Grocery List:

  • Starch
  • Milk
  • Protein
  • Fruit
  • Vegetable
  • Fat


The ADA Diabetic Exchange List:

  • Starch
  • Carbohydrate
  • Fruit
  • Fat-free /1% Milk
  • Reduced-fat / 2% Milk
  • Whole Milk
  • Vegetable
  • Non-starchy Vegetable
  • Lean Meat
  • Medium-fat Meat
  • High-fat Meat Fat
  • Alcohol Equivalent


Here is a quick reference chart on how the ADA exchanges fit into the Jenny Craig system:


ADA Exchange Jenny Craig Exchange
1 Starch 1 Starch
1 Carbohydrate 1 Starch
1 Fruit 1 Fruit
1 Fat-free/1% Milk 1 Milk
1 Reduced-fat/2% Milk 1 Milk, 1 Fat
1 Whole Milk 1 Milk, 1 Fat
1 Vegetable 1 Vegetable
1 Nonstarchy vegetable 1 Vegetable
1 Lean Meat 1 Meat
1 Medium-fat Meat 1 Meat, 1 Fat
1 High-fat Meat 1 Meat, 1 Fat
1 Fat 1 Fat
1 Alcohol Equivalent 2 Fat


As you can see in the lists and table above, Jenny Craig’s exchange list was reduced to six groups instead of the thirteen groups that are on the ADA exchange list. This was done to simplify the groups. For example:

  • Instead of three categories of milk (Fat-free/1% Milk, Reduced-fat/2% Milk, Whole Milk), we reduced them to two groups (Milk, Milk + Fat).
  • Instead of three categories of meats (Lean Meat, Medium-fat Meat, High-fat Meat), we reduced them to two groups (Meat, Meat + Fat).


Not all foods are created equal, so learn more about making the best selections from each food group. The Jenny Craig Program uses the diabetic exchange system to help you eat healthy while you lose weight and beyond. By following these guidelines, you can create any meal with the proper serving size. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out the necessary carbohydrates, sugar, fruits, vegetables, meats, or fat and calories that should be in your daily meal plan. This evidence-based nutrition plan will help you understand your unique serving sizes and nutrition so you can lose weight and continue on your weight loss journey.


Learn how Jenny Craig can simplify the process for you and help you manage your diabetes and meet your weight loss goals. It starts with a free appointment. 





Daly A, et al. Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes. Alexandria, Va.: American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association; 2008.

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