Why you should count colors, not calories

— Written By

 What if instead of counting every calorie, you focused on counting colors? 

 

It is easy to get locked into a certain mindset; focusing on the calorie count of foods happens to be one mentality most of our society is fixated on. More often than not, when we look at a nutrition label our first focus is the daunting calorie count. Don’t get me wrong, the caloric content of foods is important, but the priority should be the ingredients. The nutritional content of foods holds much more value to our health than simply focusing on the energy expenditure! 

A study conducted by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found diets low in phytochemical rich foods (i.e. nutrient rich diets) significantly contributed to weight gain. In addition to weight gain, this study concluded low phytochemical intake is largely associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress. It’s important to note the two test groups (those eating a low nutrient dense diet and those eating a high nutrient dense diet) had similar caloric intakes! The key difference was in the type of foods being consumed, not the amount of food consumed. The takeaway from this study is to highlight there should be a less focus on energy and more emphasis on increasing the amount of nutrient-rich foods in our diet.

 

Count Colors, Not Calories

Rather than counting the calories of your foods, count the colors you eat! When you focus on filling your plate with an abundance of colors coming from fresh fruits and vegetables, you prioritize getting a wide variety of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients at every meal. Think – the more colors you eat, the more nutrients to fuel your body. Adopting this mindset encourages a healthier relationship with food by looking to food as nourishment. Rather than thinking of food in terms of restriction, we start to think of how abundant we can make our plate. How many colors can I eat today? How many fruits and vegetables can fill my plate?

When you adopt this mentality, you’ll start to look better AND feel better! More energy, more clarity, better performance, better recovery. When you adopt a healthier mindset and let go of diet mentality, you will notice yourself naturally gravitating toward healthier foods. 

 

Eat the Rainbow 

When it comes to food, each color represents a different assortment of nutrients. To ensure you’re getting a well-balanced diet and supplying your body with all the nutrients it needs, aim to “eat the rainbow” packing in as many different colors as you can! 

 

RED/PINK 

HEALTH BENEFITS: 

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote heart health
  • Support immune health
  • Reduce risk of diabetes and certain cancers
  • Improve skin quality 
  • Reduce free radical damage

MICRONUTRIENTS: 

  • Lycopene (antioxidant)
  • Anthocyanin (antioxidant) 
  • Quercetin (antioxidant)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese

Red/Pink Foods: pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, pink grapefruit, beets, tomatoes, currants, red peppers, red apples, radishes, red chard, red potatoes, red grapes, kidney beans, cranberries, rhubarb, red quinoa, guava, watermelon, and salmon

 


ORANGE/YELLOW

HEALTH BENEFITS: 

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote heart health
  • Protect and improve skin
  • Improves immune function 
  • Promote eye health 
  • Promote healthy joints 


MICRONUTRIENTS: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Beta Carotene (antioxidant)
  • Lutein (antioxidant)
  • Alpha-carotene (antioxidant)

Orange Foods:acorn or butternut squash, apricots, pumpkin, oranges, carrots, papayas, orange peppers, mangoes, orange beets, sweet potatoes, turmeric, orange tomatoes, orange peppers, peaches, nectarines, tangerines, and cantaloupe

Yellow Foods: summer squash, lemons, corn, pineapple, star fruit, yellow tomatoes, yellow apples, yellow peppers, grapefruit, garbanzo beans, and egg yolks

  


GREEN

HEALTH BENEFITS: 

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote heart health
  • Detoxifies body 
  • Aids digestion 
  • Boosts the immune system 
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Promote healthy liver function
  • Reduce risk of cancer


MICRONUTRIENTS: 

  • Vitamin K
  • B Vitamins
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Sulforaphane
  • Lutein (antioxidant)
  • Carotenoids (antioxidant)
  • Chlorophyll  

Green Foods: avocados, artichokes, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens,  spinach, kale, limes, mustard greens, okra, pears, peas, romaine lettuce, watercress, zucchini, celery, cucumbers, green apples, parsley, lettuce, green grapes, green beans, green cabbage, green peppers, honeydew melons, lima beans, edamame, scallions, green tea, and kiwi

 


BLUE/PURPLE 

HEALTH BENEFITS: 

  • Increase antioxidant levels
  • Reduce inflammation in the heart and blood vessels
  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Improve skin health and prevent aging
  • Support immune health 
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Boosts memory 
  • Promotes longevity
  • Protects cells from free radical damage

 

MICRONUTRIENTS: 

  • Vitamin C
  • B Vitamins
  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Anthocyanins (antioxidant)
  • Resveratrol (antioxidant)
  • Flavonoids (antioxidant)

Blue Foods: blueberries, blue potatoes, and blue corn.

Purple foods: blackberries, boysenberries, plums, eggplant, purple grapes, red wine, dates, purple cabbages, purple figs

 


White/Brown

HEALTH BENEFITS: 

  • Reduce free radical damage
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Lower cholesterol 
  • Reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Support immune system
  • Anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
  • Support bone health and Reduce risk of osteoporosis 

MICRONUTRIENTS: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Anthoxanthins (antioxidant)
  • Quercetin (antioxidant)
  • Flavonoids (antioxidant)
  • Sulforaphane 

White/Brown Foods:bananas, jicama, onions, fennel, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, hearts of palm, coconut, cauliflower, white navy beans, fava beans, turnips, rutabagas, Jerusalem artichoke, and parsnips.

 


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