Your 2019 Best Self Checklist: Count Colors, Not Calories

Shine a light on feeling your best, eating well, moving your body, practicing self-care and shifting your mindset. Start making these positive lifestyle changes now and you’ll be ahead of the game this New Year.

For so many of us, the holidays can go one of two ways — either you’re of an all-or-nothing mindset and feel tremendous guilt after you’ve indulged. You feel like you blew it so you dive head first into the puppy chow and figure you’ll get back on track come the new year. Or maybe you go to the other extreme — counting every calorie you put into your mouth. You starve yourself so you feel like you can have your favorite holiday pastry or the second glass of Prosecco and then compensate by spending hours at the gym. Either way, getting so caught up in numbers and being flooded with shame and guilt is no way to spend this holiday season.

What if instead of counting calories, you counted colors instead? Hear me out! I’m not talking about the accounting for every sprinkle on your sugar cookie. I’m talking about the vibrant, natural colors of fruits and vegetables. This approach to eating is much healthier for your mental state and encourages you to fill your plate with nutritious, antioxidant-packed foods.

Ditch the Calorie Counting

When you’re fixated on counting calories, the challenge becomes a chore. There’s a constant focus — and worry — about how many calories remain on your counter your day. It takes away the innate joy of eating. When all you care about are numbers, you’re likely to miss out on the actual taste and smell of your food, as well as those special and intimate moments that take place around a table.

Eat the Rainbow

Instead of counting calories, count colors. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, abundant in colorful fruits and vegetables. Aim to include at least 5 vegetables and 2-3 fruits in your menu each day. But don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged if you don’t reach that number. Starting small is key to consistency and making those habits last. For the beginner, make it your goal to get one of each color every single day. If you feel like you get a good variety already, aim to get each color at every meal. Here are some great examples of foods to consider based on their colors:

Red — grapefruit, cranberries, tomatoes, watermelon, raspberries, red bell peppers

Orange — carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, oranges

Yellow — bell peppers, summer squash, sweet corn, lemons, yellow tomatoes

Green — avocado, kiwi, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cucumbers

Blue/Purple — blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, purple cabbage, black olives, grapes, plums

Why Counting Colors Works

Counting colors shifts your mindset from deprivation to abundance, which brings more joy and variety into eating. When you start to eat this way, the nourishing, nutrient-dense foods start to crowd out the others and soon the bulk of your diet will naturally showcase color. This way of eating shifts your mind from viewing food as a number to the nourishment it truly is.

So what about the treat?! There is always room for treats and foods which bring you pleasure. There is no need to feel guilt or shame when eating for enjoyment. Stressing over your choice is far worse for your waistline than eating a cookie will ever be for you. 

The beauty with counting colors is — if you overdid it the meal or day before, it’s easy to start feeling energized and vibrant again. Just start counting your colors and make sure you are getting a variety of colorful whole foods with each meal. I guarantee that eating the rainbow this holiday season will taste much better than restricting your calories.


Jessica Bippen, MS, RD, is a HUM Nutrition Beauty Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian. Jessica aids individuals in uncovering beauty from within by prescribing optimal nutrition and supplements. She is the founder of Nourished by Nutrition, and through her wellness website and private practice she works to uncover their forever wellness.

+ Stay tuned each Monday in December for more holiday checklist info!


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I love this! I used to count calories like my life depended on it, and it sucked… it made me obsess over every little thing I ate. Now I just eat whole foods (colourful, of course!) and stick to moderation!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

3 years ago

I love making my plates super colorful with lots of fruits and veggies.

3 years ago

Wow, super relevant and insightful post! I will definitely try this out.

3 years ago

Yellow: Mac N’ Cheese