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Advancing Cultural Competencies: Applying the Dietary Exchange List System to Jamaican Foods

The relationship between diet and a number of chronic health conditions has been well established. One of the most widely utilized tools for mediating this relationship is carbohydrate counting and dietary exchange systems. At the same time, nutrition and dietetics professionals have begun to stress the importance of cultural competency by encouraging all professionals to develop a comfort level with the ethnic, religious and contextual background of their patients. This paper is intended to support that movement by introducing nutrition professionals to the most common Jamaican foods as interpreted through the exchange list system. Across the entire Caribbean, trends have demonstrated increasing rates of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) accompanied by elevated rates of obesity. At present in Jamaica, T2DM is the second most common non-communicable chronic disease. Rates among immigrants and individuals of Jamaican heritage in the United States are unknown but are believed to mirror these trends. Understanding the food choices of this population will be vital to providing appropriate and meaningful nutrition treatment options. This paper addresses an important need and serves as a model for how to introduce other cultural traditions in cuisine to professionals in the fields of nutrition and dietetics.


Janice Goldschmidt, Kavitha Sankavaram and Margaret Udahogora

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