Tag Archives: diabetes weight loss

Portions and Calories Requirements






Photo courtesy of Savit Keawtavee
Photo courtesy of Savit Keawtavee





Today’s post is an article written by Registered Dietitian, Emilia Klapp.  We’ve asked her questions before but, this time I wanted to ask her to refresh our memories on portions and calorie requirements.  Many of us know how to eat healthy.  We’ve got that down.  Unfortunately we can do that all day and if we are eating too much of the good stuff, that too, can damage our health and cause us all sorts of weight gain.  So I hope you’ll read this article along with me so we can adjust our plates :)

For more great health info visit Emilia’s website, The Diabetes Club.  Her book, which centers on the mediterranean diet, is now available in digital format in her store


If you are set on a 2,000 daily calorie intake regardless of how tall you are or how much you weigh, you may want to revisit some parameters health authorities have already developed for us. These parameters consider age, weight, and height when it comes to calculating the servings, portions and calories requirements that you need in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Portions in Mediterranean countries

Not too long ago I was with my sister in Madrid, Spain, in a cafeteria. I ordered a bottle of water (my favorite drink) and my sister asked for a coke. I couldn’t help noticing the size of the coke: 8 ounces! I thought my sister would ask for a larger glass, but she didn’t. She seemed to be pretty satisfied with the size of her coke and during the two hours we stayed at the cafeteria, she didn’t order anything else.        
And then, a bothersome thought came to my mind: what do Americans think when traveling in Mediterranean countries and presented with such small sizes of soda? In the United States we are used to be served “supersizes” and we feel we are not getting our money’s worth when presented with anything shorter of that.

The portion factor

Much has been written in the last few years about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and many of us know that the virtues of the Mediterranean Cuisine reside in the selection of its basic elements: fruits and vegetables, grains, fish and seafood, olive oil and red wine in moderation. But are we aware that a very important element of this diet is also the size of the portions?

How much you eat, it does count

If you have made the decision of eating healthy because you want to lose weight, all the potential health benefits will be lost if your portions are double of what they should be. Why? Because portions such as the ones we are used to in the United States lead to obesity.

So, how do you know what a “normal” portion is?

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has developed food guidelines to help all of us in this area. I am showing you here a brief sample of servings for different food groups. To get a detail of servings classified by gender and age you can go Go to MyPyramid.gov. You will find here a complete list of different servings and portions for meats, grains, fruits and vegetables, fat, etc. that are adequate for you and your family.

Remember that there is a difference between servings with portions. A serving is a unit of measure. In general, portions count as more than one serving. The number of servings you require to maintain weight depends on how many calories you need and it is based on your age, height, and weight.

For example, the Pyramid suggests 6 to 11 servings of grain products each day. An individual consuming 1600 calories would need 6 servings of grains while an individual consuming 2800 calories would need 11 servings of grains.


A Guide to the Serving Sizes Established by the USDA


Food Group

Food Item

Serving size

Portions (Total servings)


 Whole fruit – individual pieces

 1 medium

2 – 4


Orange juice

¾ cup



Dry fruit such as raisins, dates, etc

¼ cup



Fresh fruit cut in cubes

½ cup







Raw leafy vegetables

1 cup

3 – 5


Cooked vegetables

½ cup



Raw vegetables (no leafy)

1 cup



Tomato juice

½ cup







Beef steak, ham, fish, chicken, seafood

1 ounce

5 – 7





Dairy Products


8 fluid ounces – 1 cup of milk

2 – 3


Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup shredded



Swiss cheese

2 slices, ¾ ounce each







Pasta, rice, cooked cereal

½ cup

6 – 11


Cold cereal

1 ounce




1 slice






Dry Beans

Cooked dry beans, lentils, garbanzos

½ cup







Almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.

1 ounce






You want to get your money’s worth when eating out

 Restaurants want your money and the way to get it is to serve you very large plates with a lot of food and a “supersize” soft drink. And to add insult to injury, sometimes the meal even includes a “supersize” refill. Getting all this food may make you happy since for a reasonable amount of money you are getting a substantial amount of food and you feel you are getting your money’s worth.          
Unfortunately, what is happening here is that the restaurant is getting your business and you are getting the calories; definitely, not a win-win situation. In fact, many studies show that the more often people eats out, the more body fat they have.

So, what can you do when at the restaurant or at the fast food place?

  1. When presented with a too large portion, before even getting your teeth into that tasty food, ask the waiter to take half of it and save it for you in a doggy bag (in the refrigerator, of course) until you leave.
  2. Share your meal with your fellow diners.
  3. Do not order supersize soft drinks. It is true that large sizes only cost a few cents more, but you get a lot of unwanted calories (A 12 ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. You can do the math for a 32 ounce soft drink). Instead, order water. According to Odilia Bermudez, Ph.D., of Tufts University, soft drinks and other sugar-added beverages have overtaken white bread and are now the main source of calories in the average American’s diet.

And how about calories?

If you control your portions, chances are you will get your calories about right, unless you eat too many times during the day. Many people follow a 2,000 calorie a day diet, but the amount of calories you need may vary greatly based on your current weight and whether or not you are physically active.

Finding out the calories you need may get a little complicated at times but if you click on My Pyramid.org you will find a table that will guide you on the calories needed.

However, if you enjoy math, here is one equation, the Harris-Benedict, you can use to calculate your daily calorie requirements. Here is how it works.

An equation to calculate calories

Formula for Females 655.1 + (9.6 x kilos) + (1.9 x inches high) – (4.7 x age) =

Formula for Males 66.5 + (13.8 x kilos) + (5.0 x inches high) – (6.8 x age) =

To calculate kilos divide your weight in lbs ÷ 2.2; to calculate inches: 5 feet = 60 inches


A 23 year-old female with a body weight of 64 kg (141 lb), 5’3” tall (63 inches)

665.1 + (9.6 x 64) + (1.9 x 63 inches) – (4.7 x 23)

(665.1 + 614.4 + 119.70) – 108.1 = 1291.1

Next step: multiply the resulting amount of calories by the activity factor.

Activity factor = Low activity 1.3; average activity 1.5 – 1.75; highly active 2.0

If you are average active: 1291.1 x 1.5= 1936.65

As you can see, it takes a little time to figure out all this. You may prefer to stick to the tables developed by the USDA.

Putting it all together


Sample of Servings for Three Different Energy Levels


Food Group- Servings

About 1600 Calories

About 2200 Calories

About 2800 calories





















Dry beans








Total fat grams





Final words

Remember that all these equations and tables are just estimates, but they can be a good guide when it comes to serving the food at the table for you and your family. Eating adequate portions and calories, along with adequate exercise, could be the best recipe to maintain a healthy weight in a healthy individual.

To your health!

Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.


I don’t know about you all but, I really needed this info!  (Somehow it seems my portions get larger in the winter…and thus so do I)

Thanks so much Emilia!

Type 1 Diabetes Weight loss, Lose 20 by Christmas

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It’s hard to lose weight.  When your a type 1 diabetic, it’s even harder. 

Let me share my story with you…

I spent the last few years finally figuring out how to go from “overweight” to “ok weight”.  And it wasn’t too bad once I knew what to do and stuck with it. 

Now I feel like my last 20 pounds are just impossible to lose.  This is because in many cases, those pounds have been there a while.  I’ve carried around my extra 20 since age 15.  That means those 20 pounds have been with me for over 12 years!  My body doesn’t consider the need to shed them easily because it thinks those 20 aren’t even extra pounds anymore. 

Me many years ago, feeling good!
Me many years ago, feeling good!


I’m tired of the excuses though and I’m tired of being THISCLOSE to the weight I want to be at.  Am I healthy with these extra 20 pounds?  Sure, but I could be healthier!  I’ve got 20 pounds I can stand to lose and I think I owe it to myself to do it.  Many may criticize this because I’m not really overweight.  I mean, I could lose 10 pounds and stop.  Yet, I remember a time when I was really athletic, slim, strong, flexible, and it was heaven.  I enjoyed not worrying about how clothes would fit and I enjoyed feeling light on my feet.  Plus, now that I’ve got loads of loose skin left over from my twin pregnancy, I feel like that is all I can handle.  The extra fat has got to go. 

You know…when I lost my last 20 pounds I immediately felt less self-conscious, my feet hurt less, I could wear high heels, it was easier to exercise, easier and cheaper to shop for clothes, and my knees felt so much better!

So I imagine getting off the last 20 should feel awesome, too. 

Another plus I’m looking forward to is I’ve noticed that after losing weight my body requires less insulin.  It’s easier to manage blood sugars when the need for insulin isn’t so high.  I remember being 165 pounds and needing to give 4 units of insulin for a piece of bread.  Now at 130 pounds I give 1 unit of insulin for that same piece of bread.  It makes my life less complicated, makes the math easier, and it saves me money on insulin.  So I feel that getting these last pounds off is going to streamline my health a bit more.

Of course, my priority will always be controlling blood sugars and healthy eating.  I won’t do this by starving myself (the weight will just rebound afterwards) and I won’t do it by training for a marathon (I don’t have the time nor the willpower).  I plan on doing this by cutting out the extras I currently allow myself and exercising moderately.  Instead, I’ll treat myself to treats you can’t eat.  I’ll have to figure out what these treats will be because I’ll be the first to admit:  This isn’t going to be easy. 

I realize 130 pounds doesn’t seem like much.  See, I’m 5’3 and small boned.  I have a friend who is my height and weight but she looks much thinner than me.  We were both confused about how we weighed the same and then we compared wrists.  Her bones are just much larger.  So she is heavier.  (This is my disclaimer of sorts, because I don’t want to give the impression I want to be unreasonably thin-which is unhealthy unless it’s one’s natural body type.)

I want my beloved skeptics out there to know a few things as well…A) I quit my job last year when my twins were born and so my husband and I are short on extra money (we’ve spent over $400 each month on baby food alone!).  End result?  I think twice before buying a pack of gum or a bottle of water.  So I’m not going to be able to just distract myself with a pedicure or reward myself with some shopping sprees.  B) I don’t have the liberty to get out of the house much right now because I have two one year olds’.  They are a complete joy but the situation I’m in drains my motivation because I can stay at home all day in my pajamas if I so please.  This also means I have to tell myself, “Yes, it’s just you and the babies but, brush your teeth and fix your hair!”  and C) I often feel like you and every other person out there with diabetes.  Diabetes is awful to live with and because of it we can’t lose weight as easily as someone without it.      Gosh darn it.

I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can overcome all of the above and lose my last 20 in a short but adequate amount of time.

I’m proposing a challenge for myself.  I’m going to lose 20 pounds by this Christmas Day 2010.

This gives me about 19 weeks to achieve my goal which is perfect because they say one shouldn’t lose more than 1.5 pounds per week.   You know what else?  If I get halfway to the goal I’ll be ecstatic!

If any of you out there need or want to lose some weight I invite you to join me!  We can communicate via email, comments, skype, whatever you want.  We can support our special diabetes circumstances and share tips about what is and what isn’t working for us. 

Please don’t feel that if you aren’t a stay at home mother you can’t relate to me.  Before this past year I worked 10 straight years, traveled, played sports, and when out dancing.  In other words, I know about all of the struggles and realities of balancing those things and diabetes.

Not sure you want to jump in on the fun?  If by Christmas Day you have lost even 5 pounds, think about how amazing it is that you lost weight during the time most people gain weight! 

If you want to join me on this journey email me at sysymorales@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com and in the title state “Lose 20 by Christmas”.  In the body of the email write your first and last name, email, and mailing address (none of this info will be shared with anyone, I promise).  I will put your name into a running to receive a special Christmas present from yours truly.  (And you don’t have to have lost any weight)  I want to do this because you, my readers, are a huge support and motivation.  I thank you so much!

So, staring you in the face is the chance to win a free gift and a chance to get motivated to lose a little weight by Christmas. 

Are you in?