Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters: The Sequel – #Morbid Obesity – Putting your Healthy Eating Plan together Part Two – Example Menus and exercise by Sally Cronin

This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and I had intended to release in 2021 for the 25th anniversary of my initial weight loss. However, with everything else going on in the world it did not seem appropriate to celebrate when people’s minds were fixed on survival in lockdown. Although this serialisation ontains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 25 years.

Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book.

Last week I shared how part one of putting your health lifestyle plan in to practice

You can read the previous post: HERE

Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

Putting your Eating Plan together PartTwo – Example Menus

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 – Tempting but nutritionally deficient.

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.

Exercise to help shift pounds and tone muscle.

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 25 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 – 2022

Next time getting moving and shifting the pounds

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four 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 21 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, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

39 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters: The Sequel – #Morbid Obesity – Putting your Healthy Eating Plan together Part Two – Example Menus and exercise by Sally Cronin

  1. The 3 bars of chocolate a day does sound tempting but and its a big but…the downside is not what we are aiming for…ahhhhh but the fleeting thought was a nice one…now back to reality…great informative post as always, Sally rescheduled for later xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters: The Sequel – #Morbid Obesity – Putting your Healthy Eating Plan together Part Two – Example Menus and exercise by Sally Cronin | Retired? No one told me!

  3. Great post, Sally and advice. I have cut back with some encouraging results. Just passing on chips was the key for me. I do get into trouble in the summer with fruit. Its all I want luckily that’s done for the year.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Such worthy advice Sal. I have to be honest, those chocolate bars are very tempting LOL. You are the guru. Me, I’m doing my best going to classes twice a week, working weights 3 times a week for half hour and treadmilling and bike for an hour. I’ve also began home Pilates twice a week. I eat like a bird and love my night time snacks, and haven’t lost a pound, lol. I need to go to Mexico where I always come home a few pounds lighter – despite the margs 🙂 – tons of walking and sweating. I began struggling with 7 pounds after I lost G. I wasn’t eating and was very thin, then when I began eating again ‘normally’ I got back to my normal weight plus five or so. I think m y body was shocked like a yoyo diet? ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. An interesting post which i am reading with great interest.
    Suprisingly, both my son and grandson would love the chocolate diet, but not for me.
    My son as a Gym owner would certainly not approve. My grandson is not allowed chocolate but does sometimes find a ‘chocolate coin’, in my purse. (Naughty Nanny!)

    Yes, a good walk is definatley something I am aiming doing and its also a good time to chat with my partner, as well as thinking time.
    I’ve set myself a minimum daily steps count and so far am keeping to it.
    A swim and chat with friends is also on the cards (yes I can now swim 20 lengths and chat at the same time…. lots of benefits with this!)
    Both these are good to clear my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic advice, Sally – and delicious menus. Mind you, I did think of opting for the 3 chocolate bars! I keep having health problems, so finally want to knuckle down and lose those difficult 8 kilos. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up -October 3rd – 9th 2022 – Hits 2005, Angels, Waterford, Royal Navy, Weight Loss, Podcast, Reviews, Books, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  8. Very wise advice, as usual, Sally. I’ve been out on a walk organised by ramblers organisations of Barcelona. With the support of the city council, they organise a 10 km walk once a month that everybody can join in, and you can also do it using an App for the two weeks after (or as many times as you like). It is a good way to get people moving, and most people do it with friends, family, pets, so it is very popular, and also a great way to get to know places and parts of the city you might be unfamiliar with. I also do a lot of YouTube fitness videos, and they are versions for all ages and fitness levels, so it is worth having a look. Thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

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