Can You Improve Your Nutrition Without Counting Calories or Macros?

Lose weight & get healthy without driving yourself crazy.

There is definitely a time and place for measuring, counting, and detailed tracking of your food intake. For most though, the “small choices lead to big changes” mentality will make a significant difference in your eating habits, food relationships, weight loss, and overall heath. 

We encourage students to be well-rounded, yes? To make the grades but also hit the field or learn an instrument or a new language. We are typically gracious toward the faults of others, encouraging them to “give themselves grace” or “face tomorrow as a new day.”

So, why then, do we expect perfection of ourselves when it comes to healthy eating? 

Why do we take an all or nothing approach that usually looks like a week or so of near perfection until a bad day or a night out throws us off course and into guilt?

If you have been on and off that bandwagon too many times to count, let’s admit that, truly, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result (thank you, Albert). It’s time for something new. Turn off the app, put away the food scale for a bit, and let’s face some indisputable nutrition facts: 

1. What we eat matters to our health

2. How much we eat matters to our body weight (and therefore our health)

3. How food makes us feel, physically and emotionally, is something we should be paying attention to

So how can we attend to these things in a way that doesn’t make us a slave to food tracking, but will still enact change in our health and nutrition?

We can pull out the good old fashioned paper and pencil and start recording. Not the exact metrics of every meal and snack, but a general idea of what we ate. Then, give it a rating –




, or


. Highlight it, colour it, whatever you can to visually mark it with the green/yellow/red rating. 

Green Foods/Meals:

  • Are made of mostly real food that you would find around the perimeter of the grocery store (meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, produce, whole grains + beans and legumes)

  • Are eaten to about 75-80% fullness, letting time do the rest as you digest

  • Leave you feeling good physically and mentally, not sick or guilty

Yellow Foods/Meals:

  • Have some processed or “aisle” food elements

  • “Junk” foods that you were still able to control your impulses and eat an appropriate amount

Red Foods/Meals:

  • Foods we should avoid due to sensitivity or intolerance

  • Things that typically cause you to overeat

  • Feeling overly stuffed or sick after eating

When you jot down your meals and snacks and give them a quick, visual rating, it’s pretty easy to see how your day is going. Had a big breakfast out and felt a little sick-full afterward? Don’t starve yourself the rest of the day! Just plan to fill the rest with green foods that will leave you satisfied and help you feel better. 

If you are logging this way, over 80% green is a good rule of thumb. For three meals and two snacks (5 eating sessions), 7 days a week, that’s keeping at least 28 of your entries green. In the 7 remaining, allowing no more than 2 to be red meals will keep you feeling good and enjoying foods you love that may not be great for you, but letting them be the exception, rather than the rule. 

Food can be such a joy!

Some of my greatest memories are connected to food – what I ate, where I ate it, and who I ate it with. You know what is never a good memory for me, though? Feeling so stuffed or sick that the experience was tainted by how terrible I felt after. Just a few adjusted choices – stopping a few bites earlier or choosing a fresh side dish rather than fried – would have left that meal green, just as enjoyable, and untainted by the yuck-factor.

So…does this kind of tracking work compared to counting calories or macros? 

Well, first, you don’t know if you don’t try! 

Second, it is my experience, personally and professionally, that proper nutrition and healthy weight loss happen in the long game and if you are going to hold on to habits long enough for them to make a difference to your heath, you can’t resent them.

Your food habits should be simple (maybe not easy, but simple) to do and to stick to, they should allow you to live your life, and they should encourage you to enjoy food, rather than feeling guilty about it all the time. 

If accountability, a listening ear, and a coach to help you focus on the right areas of nutritional change is something that will help you stay on track, I am here for you. We’ll start with a consultation to talk about your common questions and focus-areas for health. Then, accountability can be as hands-on or hands-off as you prefer – one quick text a day or a consultative meeting every week! The choice is yours because it’s your health and your life and the changes you make need to work for YOU. 

Use the form below to reach out and book a free, 15-minute Nutrition Chat to get started.