Struggle to count calories? Try counting colours.

By obsessing too much over 'calories in vs. calories out' are we losing sight of what good nutrition should focus on?

If you're struggling to lose weight and you're trying to count calories and track macros, you might be better off focusing on the quality of the foods you eat to begin with rather than solely focusing on a macro or calorie value.

One concept that might improve your health, whilst not having to continually obsess over calorie counting is thinking about 'eating the rainbow'. However, unfortunately unlike the image below, I am of course referring to colourful fruits, vegetables and plant-based produce and not pick and mix.


Fruit and vegetables contain a variety phytochemicals dependant on their chemical structure. 


  1. any of various biologically active compounds found in plants.

A phytochemical relates directly to a plants immune system and can typically be found in the skin of the plant. Current research shows that many of these chemicals can impact things like your hormones, your disease risk, to your ability to fight off colds and infections.

The colour of the plant-based food dictates the potential health benefits on the body. Therefore by promoting an 'eat the rainbow' culture we can give constructive advice for everyone to improve their health through more varied nutrition that is easily applicable.

In context, it is much easier to promote your friends and family to focus on eating the rainbow than focus on weighing out their food and adhering to strict macronutrient targets. 

Anyone can ask themselves simple questions before cooking their dinner tonight like: how can I make my plate as colourful as possible? What's in my fridge or freezer that can make my meal more colourful?

The added benefit of eating in this manner is that we can reduce food waste by adding vegetables to meals that may have been thrown away, have more variety to our meals and indirectly begin to consume more fibre. A nutrient many of the UK population are deficient in.

When eating colourful, we can shop at the supermarket with an open mind without having to over obsess about calories. Buying produce that looks fresh and in season we can constantly vary the different nutrients we add to our meals and make meals a bit more interesting by trying new foods. This method of meal planning is less strict and way more fun. 

How to apply 'Eat the Rainbow' without breaking the bank?

  1. Shop at supermarkets known for their great value. Aldi and Lidl are a great place to shop on a budget, as well as local markets that sell fresh produce.
  2. By eating whatever produce is in season you will pay the best price and also get produce that tastes great.
  3. Don't be afraid to buy foods that have been frozen or tinned. They are still definitely worth using in your cooking.
  4. Always have a bag of spinach in fridge. You can pretty much add this to any meal - eggs, spaghetti, potatoes, the list is endless.

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Words from James Long (Creator & Co-Founder @whenharrymetsalad)

James Long