Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters The Sequel – Putting your Plan Together #Fats #portion sizes – Part Two by Sally Cronin

In the last post I shared the starting point for your eating plan, with your weight established and the amount of weight that you needed to lose and the timescales. Also some more information about the amount of fat in your diet and how cholesterol is broken down into the good the bad and the ugly..

In this post I am going too look at the food groups to include in your programme with an approximate calorie guideline.

What food should I eat within the calorie and fat guidelines?

I established in an earlier chapter that a woman needs a minimum daily intake of 1,500 calories and a man needs a minimum daily intake of 1,800 calories. Always remember that the most important aspect of those calories should be the nutritional content.

Let’s look at two sample menus of around 1,500 calories.

Menu 1 – Bad example

• You could eat three chocolate bars, which would be 1,500 calories or around 60 fat grams.
OR, you could have ALL of the following;

Menu 2 – Good example


• Bowl of cereal (30 g) with skimmed milk with a handful of blueberries (150 calories)
• Slice of toast with scrape of butter and jam (130 calories)
• Cup of black coffee and a glass of cranberry juice (50 calories)
(Total: 330 calories)

Morning snack

• Two pieces of fruit (100 calories)

Light Lunch

• Salad sandwich with chicken or fish (350 calories)
• Fat-free yogurt and one piece of fruit (105 calories)
(Total: 555 calories)



• 150 gm grilled cod or small chicken breast (140 calories)
• 100 g potato (85 calories)
• Broccoli, cabbage and carrots (120 calories)
• Tomato and basil sauce (100 calories)
(Total: 445 calories)

Evening snack

Fresh fruit salad and low-fat yogurt (watch the sugar in the yogurt) (250 calories)

Total for the day: 1,580 calories or 28 fat grams.

What you should notice here is just how much food you can eat and still lose weight. You would not be hungry with a daily menu similar to this. But, if you had eaten only three chocolate bars throughout the day, you would not just have been very hungry at the end of the day but you would also have filled your system with many times the amount of sugar you need, and your fat intake would have been far too high.

We need a balanced diet whatever weight we are, but it is particularly important if you are trying to lose weight. Every individual requires a different balance in their diet, depending on age, sex and activity level. If you are pregnant, elderly or recovering from illness then you will require a different balance to the types of food you are eating on a daily basis. I discuss supplements in a later post, since it is very difficult to achieve optimum nutrition even on 2,000 calories per day. This is why eating lots of fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fresh fruit is so important.

Carbohydrates play a crucial role in our energy levels and it is important to include a healthy amount in your program. Usually it is what we serve with our carbohydrates that cause us problems. A healthy slice of whole-grain bread at about 75 calories suddenly becomes the snack from hell when you add butter, a slice of cheese and two slices of ham.

As a guideline, if I were on a regime of 1,500-1,600 calories a day, I would expect to eat the following amounts in the various food groups.

  • Carbohydrates:- 4 to 6 servings depending on your activity level. ( 1 slice of breads, small bowl of cereal and starchy vegetables such as carrots large tablespoon, potatoes 1 medium, turnip 1 large tablespoon, swede large tablespoon and beans tablespoon).
  • Green and salad Vegetables:- 4 servings – tablespoons
  • Fruit:- 2 – 3 servings – An orange, apple, pear, banana, handful of berries (variety)
  • Protein:- 2 servings, (1 egg, lean meats, 150 gm chicken or fish)
  • Fats:- In meats, chicken, oily fish and dairy products.
  • Milk:- You can use semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk, but tea does not taste the same to me so I use full-fat milk and just have 1/4 pint.

The important thing to remember here is that you may need to increase your intake of carbohydrate to fuel certain levels of activity. I have worked with a number of athletes among my clients and their programs were planned around their training sessions. They would eat more carbohydrates, in the form of pasta or beans, on the day before training. This increases their energy and stamina levels even just hours later.

How quickly should I lose weight?

I have found that, for both myself and my clients, the rate of weight loss is variable in the first two or three weeks, depending on how much weight you wish to lose. For instance, someone who is more than 42 lbs (3 st, 19 kg) overweight can often lose 5 to 6 lbs (2.3 to 2.6 kg) the first week, then 4 lbs (1.8 kg) each week for the next two or three, followed by 2 to 3 lbs (0.9 to 1.4 kg) a week thereafter, depending on lifestyle.

In my case, I was losing at least 3 lbs (1.4 kg) a week right up to the end. I did not drop my calories below 1,750, but I was walking between four and six miles a day. If I had not walked, my daily deficit would have been about 750 calories a day, which would have given me a weekly total of 5,250 calories or 1.5 lbs of body fat. However, the walking, and other exercise, that I did each day doubled my daily deficit to 1,500 calories, or 10,500 a week, resulting in the 3 lbs (1.4 kg) weight loss. I was also converting fat to muscle, which uses calories more efficiently, so I felt happy to be losing weight at that rate.

If you are not at that level of exercise, then losing 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs (0.7 to 0.9 kg) of body fat each week after the initial month is absolutely fine. Remember that this is still between 14 lbs and 20 lbs (6.5 to 9 kg) every ten weeks, which is over 100 lbs (45 kg) a year. For someone who weighs in the region of 280 lbs (20 st, 127 kg), this is a tremendous change in a relatively short space of time. You have spent a lifetime getting to the size you are, so it is well worth making the necessary changes in your lifestyle to know that, in a year’s time, you will have lost 105 lbs (7 st 7 lbs, 48 kg).

At this steady rate of weight loss, your body is not going to be under stress. You will be properly nourished and you will have the energy to do the exercise you need to tone your body and maintain the weight loss.

While I recommend walking to speed up the weight reduction process, swimming and cycling are also excellent. I do not, however, believe in spending two hours a day on a treadmill, especially when you are still considerably overweight. If you are obese, probably you will have caused some structural damage to your body. My right hip, knee and foot are very vulnerable.

For years I would use my right leg to push my entire body weight out of the car which did not help the knee joint and then about 20 years ago I snapped my ligaments when my knee was twisted around suddenly.. I am now lucky to be able to walk the distances I do, but aerobics, tennis and similar forms of exercise are less suitable for me. I know a lot of people who have done similar damage to themselves, and they certainly compound this when they exercise too hard.

How much exercise should I do to help me lose weight?

I love walking. People used to ask me how I could walk 6 miles a day and not get bored. At first I looked on it as a chore. I could barely go down the road for ten minutes before I was unbearably hot and sweaty (and hating the way people looked at me).

My attitude began to change after the first 30 to 40 lbs (14 to 18 kg) of weight came off. I was now walking for an hour at a time. I felt better and could see the changes in my body. I had been very worried that, as I lost the weight, I would be left with bags of loose skin, but this wasn’t the case. Some people need an operation to remove such sagging skin, but walking – and drinking plenty of water – are two key elements in avoiding a medical solution.

Apart from the obvious benefits we have already talked about, there is another aspect to walking that has added a whole new dimension to my life. I discovered that the time spent walking was very precious. No one could intrude. I could think about anything I wanted: planning my day, writing my book, listening to my favourite music. There were no interruptions, and no other demands on that time.

I then got myself a personal fitness trainer. All he cost me was a lot of love, three walks a day and massages. He made me get up at 7.30 every morning, rain or shine, and, when he looked at me in that certain way, there is no way in the world I could say no. He would walk for miles, checking messages left by passing four-legged friends and coming back occasionally to let me know he was still there. Even though he is no longer with us, I will never forget his contribution to my walk back to health.

Later I began swimming again, something I loved as a teenager. I swam everyday for an hour and this certainly helped me with my knee injury. It is also an all over toning exercise and will also increase internal organ health including heart and lungs.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 Thanks for dropping in today and if you have any questions please use the comments or if your prefer you are more than welcome to email me on

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11 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters The Sequel – Putting your Plan Together #Fats #portion sizes – Part Two by Sally Cronin

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Easter Parade Invite, Bloggers Bash Voting, And all the fun of the fair. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  2. Great advice. I used to go for long walks in places with no traffic and I would read at the same time. These days I tend to listen to audiobooks or use the text to speech facility. But I love walking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Healthy Eating…Eat Smart…Pomelo Salad… | Retired? No one told me!

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters The Sequel – Putting your Plan Together #Fats #portion sizes – Part Two by Sally Cronin | Campbells World

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